Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blogging From A to Z - Y is for You Can't Take it With You

Welcome to the It's A Wonderful Blog's Blogging From A to Z April (2015) Challenge. For this challenge, I will post every day in April (except for Sundays) about topics related to the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart film, It's a Wonderful Life.

You Can't Take it With You:

You Can’t Take it With You was the first of three films made by the film team of Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart.

While Capra borrowed several techniques, ideas and themes from many of his films, a great deal of them began in this film. There are so many connections that it will require one very long blog entry, or several shorter entries. I will work on those at some point.

One major connection to that You Can't Take it With You has with It’s a Wonderful Life is the list of talent.
  • Jimmy Stewart played George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. He played Tony Kirby in You Can’t Take it With You.
  • Samuel S. Hinds played Pa Bailey in t’s a Wonderful Life. He played Paul Sycamore in You Can’t Take it With You.
  • H.B. Warner played Mr. Gower in t’s a Wonderful Life. He played Ramsey in You Can’t Take it With You.
  • Lionel Barrymore played the much-hated Henry F. Potter in t’s a Wonderful Life. He played the much-loved Martin Vanderhof in You Can’t Take it With You.
For now, I want to focus on Peter Bailey.

During the bank run, George takes a phone call from Potter. After that discussion, George turns to a framed picture of his father on the office wall. Three characters from You Can’t Take it With You are reunited in this scene.

As George turned to his father for advice as a child, he continues to do so as an adult, looking for the guidance and strength that Peter represented in life. It is the same picture that will hang on the wall at George and Mary’s future home. Both at home and at work, this picture can always be seen over George’s shoulder whenever he meets opposition or is faced with trouble.

At work, though, there is a quotation beneath the picture that says, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.” In this way, Capra brings the message of You Can’t Take it With You into t’s a Wonderful Life, and makes a reference to his previous film at the same time. This quotation was not hanging under the photo when George took over the business, but it is there during the bank run.

All you can take with you is that which you have given away.
This quotation is more than just Peter’s epitaph. Raymond Carney, author of American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra, points out that “George’s father represents a sense of responsibility and obligation to the larger community and a belief in the value of self-sacrifice for the common good that almost all of the earlier (Capra) films advocated” (386). George has gained his father’s values, and the audience is led to believe by the end of the film that these values will in turn be passed down to George and Mary’s children.

The quotation also helps to enforce the film’s message of civic-mindedness. It contradicts the ideology of the period that capitalism is about personal gain despite negative consequences for others, as Potter represents. By showing the Baileys as civic-minded capitalists, Capra has challenged America’s post-World War II ideology in t’s a Wonderful Life. He works to affirm an ideology of civic-minded capitalism throughout the film through the photograph of Peter, through George’s struggles, and in the contrast between the Baileys and Potter.

As author Greg Asimakoupoulos puts it, “When you make deposits in the lives of others, you aren’t always aware of the compounding interest that is taking place. But the bottom line reveals a wealth that exceeds your expectations.”

Asimakoupoulos, Greg. “Finding God in It's A Wonderful Life.” iBooks.

Carney, Raymond. American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments, questions and feedback! be sure to subscribe to my page to read the latest.