Archive for the ‘You Can’t Take It With You (1938)’ Category

Front Cover

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Release Date: December 08, 2015

Region: Region A

Length: 126 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio

Alternate Audio:

2.0 French Dolby Digital

2.0 German Dolby Digital

2.0 Italian Dolby Digital

2.0 Spanish Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Turkish

Ratio: 1.37:1

Notes: This is the Blu-ray debut of this title, but it was previously released in a DVD edition.


“When I saw the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart stage play, You Can’t Take It With You, I was convinced that here is one of the finest comedy-dramas of our time – a great idea told through comedy. Any story or play with universal appeal, with a theme that reaches into the hearts and minds of humanity, makes for great screen entertainment. These fundamental qualities are present in an unusual degree in You Can’t Take It With You. That is why I believe the picturization of this delightful story will have widespread appeal to everyone everywhere.” –Frank Capra (1938 Souvenir Program)

When Frank Capra and Robert Riskin teamed to adapt the Pulitzer Prize winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, You Can’t Take It With You had already had phenomenal success on Broadway. It is easy to understand why the play was a success to depression era audiences, and it probably wasn’t particularly difficult to convince Columbia to put up the $200,000 fee for the movie rights.

Indeed, the studio’s eventual 1,644,736 investment paid off exponentially. Not only was the film the highest grossing film of 1938, but it was nominated for seven Academy Awards. By the end of the ceremony, You Can’t Take It With You had earned Frank Capra his third Oscar statue for “Best Director,” and the film had been named as the year’s “Best Picture.”

The film’s premise is a simple one. Jean Arthur stars as Alice Sycamore, the stable family member of an offbeat clan of free spirits who falls for Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son of a snooty, wealthy family. Amidst a backdrop of confusion, the two very different families rediscover the simple joys of life.

While Riskin’s screenplay is altered significantly from the original Kaufman-Hart play, Capra’s film maintains the essential ingredients that made the play such a beloved classic. Purists will probably find these alterations troublesome, but it is difficult to judge the film too harshly. The film is simply too charming for such criticisms.

The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars


You Can’t Take It With You is the second release in Sony’s ongoing “Capra Collection” series, which launched last year with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Like their previous Capra release, this disc is housed in attractive “Collectible Digi-book Packaging” with an all-new essay by Film Historian, Jeremy Arnold. (Arnold’s essay does such a wonderful job of putting the film’s production into context that it seemed like a mistake to write a similar article for this site.) The text is beautifully illustrated with rare photos from the film’s production, which makes for a uniquely attractive package.

The disc’s static menu utilizes the same publicity still used on the disc’s cover art and features music from the film’s score. It is actually quite elegant.

Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Sony Pictures should be commended for their 4K restoration of You Can’t Take It With You, which was in desperate need of a proper restoration. Unfortunately, the original negative is believed to have been destroyed. The restoration was forced to utilize a 1939 print that was discovered on a ranch owned by Frank Capra and a third generation nitrate duplicate that had seen better days. Both elements were rather soft with an overabundance of contrast, and had been ravaged by time. The restoration team chose the best elements from each source to produce the best possible restoration print. After doing this, the blemishes (tears, scratches, dirt, and etc.) were removed digitally on a frame by frame basis. The result isn’t a perfect print, but it is vast improvement over previous prints. One doesn’t imagine that a better print will ever be forthcoming.

Frame Comparison

Frame Comparison

These ‘before and after’ photos demonstrates the excellent work that was accomplished by the restoration team.

This Blu-ray transfer of this print was obviously treated with the same amount of care. Some will no doubt be disappointed to see certain anomalies (such as density issues, occasional wobbling, and abundant film grain), but it seems unfair to complain about these issues when the look of the film has been improved this much. Those that already own the previous DVD release of the film will be amazed at the difference.

Sound Quality:

3.5 of 5 Stars

The lossless 2.0 Mono track is a serviceable representation of the source audio, but it reveals the film’s age during some of the more dynamic moments in the track. Music sometimes needs more room to breathe, but this is really an issue with the original elements. The sound issues are a result of the technological limitations of the 1930s and were simply impossible to fix.

Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Commentary by Frank Capra, Jr. & Catherine Kellison

This conversational commentary by Frank Capra, Jr. and Catherine Kellison is surprisingly informative and consistently engaging. It is an entertaining way to spend two hours. The only complaint that I have is that neither commentator seemed to be familiar with the original play.

Frank Capra, Jr. Remembers – (480I) – (25:42)

Frank Capra, Jr. discusses the circumstances surrounding the production of You Can’t Take It With You, changes made to the original play, and gives an overall appreciation of the film. It is a surprisingly informative featurette that should add to the viewer’s appreciation of this classic.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (1080P) – (01:01)

It is nice to have the film’s original trailer included on the disc. Instead of showing moments from the actual film, the trailer uses Capra’s previous success and the success of the original Kaufman-Hart play to sell the film.

Final Words:

You Can’t Take It With You is one of Frank Capra’s best classics, and it is nice to see that Sony Pictures has seen fit to restore the film for future generations.