Frank Capra first became aware of the play when he caught a performance of it when he was in New York in 1937 for the premiere of Lost Horizon. He tried to persuade Columbia boss Harry Cohn to buy the rights but Cohn refused, partly because he baulked at the prospect of shelling out what he considered to be the exorbitant sum of $200,000 for the rights, but mainly because he was still smarting from the lost battles he'd had with Capra over the final edit of Lost Horizon. Capra too was out of sorts with Cohn as he objected strongly to the Columbia boss trying to market the Jean Arthur film If You Could Only Cook in Britain as one of his own. A court case ensued, only being resolved in November 1937, with the proviso that Columbia buy the rights to the play and assign the project to Capra.
Frank Capra was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1938 and was at the forefront of a union dispute amongst producers and directors that was threatening to disrupt that year's Oscar ceremony. Fortunately it was resolved in time for the President to walk off with 2 more Oscars to add to his collection.
Ann Miller once said that doing the ballet moves for this movie were extremely painful and she would often be crying in between takes. She never told anybody the reason why and James Stewart, assuming she was upset about something, would have boxes of candy sent to her to make her feel better.
Ann Miller was only 15 years old when this movie was filmed. Her character is called on to perform numerous (amateur) ballet positions, including the toe pointe, which was very painful for her. She hid this from the cast and crew, but would cry (out of sight) off stage.
Lionel Barrymore plays Jean Arthur's grandfather in the film. In reality, he was only 22 years her senior.
Lionel Barrymore would receive injections every hour to help relieve the pain of his arthritis.
A 1938 feature film usually ran to 8,000 feet of film. Frank Capra shot 329,000 feet for this one.
Columbia paid $200,000 for the film rights to the play.
Debut of Dub Taylor.
Shooting began in late April 1938 and took just under 2 months. The cost came in at one and a half million dollars.
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 sprained ankle, and Barrymore did the film on crutches.
The Broadway play "You Can't Take It With You" opened at the Booth Theater in New York on December 14, 1936 and ran for 838 performances. The original cast included Jess Barker as Tony Kirby, Margot Stevenson as Alice Sycamore and Henry Travers as Grandpa. Donald, played so memorably in this film by Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, was originally portrayed by Oscar Polk, who later played house servant "Pork" in Gone with the Wind.
The first film collaboration of Jean Arthur, James Stewart and Frank Capra. Later the same teamed up for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The first of only two Best Picture Academy Award winners to have been adapted for the screen from plays which won the Pulitzer Prize.
The original play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was still running on Broadway when the film opened.
This movie reunited Lionel Barrymore (Grandpa Vanderhof) and Donald Meek (Mr. Poppins) who had previously starred together in the movie, Mark of the Vampire.
Whereas the play had only 19 characters, there are 153 parts in the film.