You Can't Take It with You opened in New York in December of 1936 to instant critical and popular acclaim. This depiction of a delightfully eccentric family, the third collaboration by playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, proved to be their most successful and longest-running work. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1936, the comedy went on to run 837 performances on Broadway. Kaufman and Hart sold the film rights to Columbia Pictures for a record-setting amount, and the 1938 film won an Academy Award for best picture. Perenially appealing to audiences, You Can't Take It with You has become an American classic, regularly produced by high schools, colleges, and community theaters around the country. Successful Broadway revivals in 1965 and 1983 also attest to the play's timeless appeal.
You Can't Take It with You relates the humorous encounter between a conservative family and the crazy household of Grandpa Martin Vanderhof. Grandpa's family of idiosyncratic individualists amuse with their energetic physical antics and inspire with their wholehearted pursuit of happiness. Kaufman and Hart fill the stage with chaotic activity from beginning to end. Critics have admired the witty one-liners, the visual theatricalism, and the balanced construction of the play's three acts. Although You Can't Take It with You is undeniably escapist theater which prompts immediate enjoyment rather than complex analysis, it has clearly influenced American comedy. The formula originated by Kaufman and Hart—a loveable family getting into scrapes and overcoming obstacles—has been adopted as a format by most of today's television situation comedies.