You Can't Take It with You (1938) Poster

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  • Sad to say, there's a powerful streak of racism that badly mars You Can't Take It with You, to the point where I stopped watching the last time I tried rewatching this classic.

    I have a strong stomach when it comes to mores of the time in film, but watching the Vanderhofs cavort and enjoy themselves and prattle (that's what it is, unfortunately, in this context) about being free and giddy and delighting in life when Rheba and Donald appear to do pretty much ALL of the heavy lifting and hard work of life and keeping the house going, was just too unpleasant and self-refuting.

    Rheba and Donald were servants. There's no doubt of that. Poorly paid servants, if the condition of the family is anything to go by. It's a real shame, but that's what happens when a film is poorly constructed, with internal contradictions too great to sustain the script. It's strongly implied that Rheba and Donald aren't even fully human---their hard work is assumed to belong to the Vanderhofs' as if by right.

    Anyone disagreeing would do well to imagine Rheba and Donald as white. It would be completely absurd for the film to proceed as it did, obviously so, with the household entirely dependent on the work of two poorly paid servants who appear to have no right to explore their interests and pursue their desires the way the Vanderhofs do.

    It's also a pity that Capra went this route. It would have been a simple matter to have each member of the household put in, say, 90 minutes a day on the inevitable grunt work. Too communistic for the time, I suppose, and it would remind millions that most of the profit of their hard work is simply stolen by the rich. Edit

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