You Can’t Take It With You actor Jimmy Stewart had a wide array of legendary performances over the course of his filmography. As a result, he has an Oscar win, an Honorary Award, and four additional nominations. Stewart always had a certain signature charm about him that he injected into his performances. It turns out, the actor also had a serious love for comic books that he brought along with him to movie sets.
Director Frank Capra demanded to borrow Jimmy Stewart from MGM for ‘You Can’t Take It With You’
Michael Munn’s Jimmy Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend explored the actor’s works, including You Can’t Take It With You. It’s a Wonderful Life director Frank Capra became very close friends with Stewart over the years after working together. Capra was one of Columbia’s most important directors because of his major success, including It Happened One Night and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. As a result, he could get almost anything from the studio.
Capra happened to see a number of Stewart’s previous movies and knew that he needed him for You Can’t Take It With You. He demanded for MGM to allow him to borrow Stewart for the movie to complete his vision.
The story follows Tony Kirby (Stewart), who is the son of a snobbish Wall Street banker. He proposes to a woman named Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur), who is from a more humble, eccentric family. However, Tony doesn’t realize that his father is trying to kick Alice’s family from their home for real estate development.
Jimmy Stewart loved reading comic books while filming ‘You Can’t Take It With You’
Munn wrote how Stewart saw Capra in a very positive light after working on You Can’t Take It With You. “Capra was not only a good director, but a fine fellow,” the actor said. “We hit it off straight away and remained friends ever since.” Stewart would ultimately help his You Can’t Take It With You director when he came under suspicion of communism during the McCarthy era.
Capra also had glowing things to say in return about the actor. “On the one hand he was a regular guy,” Capra said. “He liked to hang around and talk to the people on the set, but he never sought deep friendships. If someone was to become his friend, then it just happened. He didn’t seek friends. But he was friendly to everyone. And then often you’d see him go off on his own because he just wanted some quiet time to himself. I don’t know what he was ever thinking about. I felt it would be an imposition to ask.”
Capra explained that when Stewart went off on his own while filming You Can’t Take It With You, he would actually read comic books. He absolutely loved them and had a favorite.
“The funny thing about Stewart is that he loves comic books. He’d sit there reading comics. I think his favourite was Flash Gordon. I thought it was so typical of Jim. He can be so serious about his work, he can lose himself in deep thought, but he can also be the kid he was in Indiana reading comic books.”
The film won big at the 1939 Oscars
Stewart and the rest of the cast of You Can’t Take It With You ultimately left a big impact on audiences and critics. Munn explained how the film opened to instant praise. The film made it all the way to the Oscars, where it won awards for Best Picture and Best Director. However, it also secured nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.
Additionally, You Can’t Take It With You went down as one of the several iconic movies from Capra and Stewart. They would ultimately work together again on It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.