Monday, December 26, 2011

“You Can’t Take It with You” (1938)



It is always amazing just how well a Capra movie holds up. Seventy Three years after its release, “You Can’t Take It with You” plays like it was made for today’s audiences. The messages of the film are things that today’s audiences need to hear. Of course, the generational cycle has come back around to a point very similar to where we were back in the twenties and thirties, so it does make sense that films and stories from those days would ring true today.


The idea that a “successful” and cutthroat business man could have a lot to learn from a man who has learned to enjoy life’s little gifts is not all that strange. The power and security that riches supply are deceitful in their fragility and pointless when there is no objective greater than the mere acquisition of more money.

There are a couple other points in the film that stand out. The first is one that the government would likely want to censor these days. That is when the IRS comes to collect from Grandpa and he asks the agent to show him some evidence of the benefits his taxes provide. It is simplistic, but absolutely reasonable. In an age where overspending and bankrupt governments see logic in austerity plans that involve higher taxes and not significant cuts in spending, this man voices what a lot of people would like to have the chance to say.

The other stand-out element is the way Grandpa prays at the dinner table: “Well, Sir, here we are again. We've been getting along pretty good for quite a while now - we're certainly much obliged. Remember all we ask is just to go along the way we are, keep our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we leave that up to you. Thank you.”

It may not be theologically complete, but it sure beats the way Americans tend to pray these days where everything is about us, increasing our influence and power and everything we think God should be doing on our behalf. Submission as a creature in the presence of the Creator is a refreshing sentiment.

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