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You Can't Take It with You is a 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedic play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, later adapted into a 1938 Academy-Award winning film starring Lionel Barrymore and Jimmy Stewart, and a forgotten 1987 syndicated television series.
Set during The Depression, the plot is centered around the lives of the Quirky Household of the Sycamore family. The household includes eccentric but kind patriarch Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff, his daughter Penny, an amateur playwright, her husband Paul, who is a fireworks engineer with his friend Mr DePinna, and their two daughters Alice, the Only Sane Woman, and Essie, an amateur ballerina trained by a crazed Russian, Boris Kolenkhov, and wife of Ed, a printer and xylophone player. Also in the house is the Sassy Black Woman maid, Rheba, and her Cloudcuckoolander boyfriend, Donald. The main conflict of the work involves Alice falling in love with Tony Kirby, and how Tony's wealthy banker father, Anthony P. Kirby and his snobbish mother strongly disapprove of the match, especially after a disastrous Dinner Party where the families were supposed to become acquainted. Throw into the mix a drunken actress, Gay Wellington, an exiled Russian Countess, Olga Katrina, and various FBI and IRS agents, and you have a play beloved by High School drama clubs nation-wide.
This Work Shows Examples Of:
- Adaptation Expansion
- Butt Monkey: Mr. Kirby in Act 2.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Most of the cast--certainly the Vanderhoff family.
- Cool Old Guy: Grandpa
- Dinner and a Show
- Dysfunctional Family: Subverted, the Sycamores are quite happy with their weirdness, as compared to the unhappy normality of the Kirby's.
- Husky Russkie: Kolenkhov, played in the movie by Mischa Auer.
- Lady Drunk: Gay Wellington, in spades.
- Man Child: Paul is the proud owner of an erector set.
Mr. Kirby: Do you use this as a model of some sort?
Paul: No, I just play with it.
- Meddling Parents: The Kirbys.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Penny's a playwright.
- Only Sane Man: Alice, among her family.
- Pretty in Mink: Mrs. Kirby
- Quirky Household
- Sassy Black Woman
- Star-Making Role: Jimmy Stewart had been working in Hollywood since 1935 but this was the movie that made him a big star.
- Title Drop: Grandpa drops the title in reference to Mr. Kirby's wealth... It's the Aesop, after all.
- Written in Infirmity: Shortly before filming began, Lionel Barrymore lost the use of his legs to crippling arthritis and a hip injury. To accommodate him, the script was altered so that his character had a broken leg, and Barrymore did the film on crutches.