I generally love Capra films, but this one, unfortunately, is a glaring exception.
The original play, written by two of the best writers of this century is a 19-character, one-room, tight, poetic, fast, funny, intimate comedy. The film by comparison is a 153-character, multiple-set, watered-down, prosaic and preachy, slow, unfunny film stocked with us-against-them grandstanding and crowd scenes. I wonder what Kaufman and Hart thought of the movie.
This film won Academy Awards for Best Film and Best Director. It was nominated for Best Screenplay and other awards. Probably the vast majority of Academy members had never seen the play because if they had, it's hard for me to believe they would be so impressed by this film.
If possible, see the original play before you see the film. I'm glad I did.
Two other hilarious plays by Kaufman & Hart:
Once In A Lifetime - Is the 1932 film version of this play lost? I can't find it anywhere. Apparently Singin’ in the Rain borrowed from this play.
In 1983-4 there was an excellent revival on Broadway with Jason Robards heading a wonderful cast. I was lucky enough to see this production in New York. And lucky for you, a video is available.
For the benefit of search engines, here is a jumble of details: Directed by Kirk Browning Ellis Rabb Writing credits Moss Hart (play) and George S. Kaufman (play) Elizabeth Wilson .... Penny Sycamore Carole Androsky .... Essie Carmichael (as Carol Androsky) Rosetta LeNoire .... Rheba Jack Dodson .... Paul Sycamore Bill McCutcheon .... Mr. De Pinna Christopher Foster .... Ed Carmichael Arthur French .... Donald Jason Robards .... Grandpa Martin Vanderhof Maureen Anderman .... Alice Sycamore Orrin Reiley .... Henderson Nicolas Surovy .... Tony Kirby George Rose .... Boris Kolenkhov Alice Drummond .... Gay Wellington Richard Woods .... Anthony P. Kirby Meg Mundy .... Mrs. Anthony P. Kirby Page Johnson .... A man from the Department of Justice Colleen Dewhurst .... Grand Duchess Olga Katrina Wayne Elbert .... Jim Jason Robards III .... Mac Daniel A. Bohr .... producer Ellen Krass .... executive producer (as Ellen M. Krass) Production Design by James Tilton Costume Design by Nancy Potts Reed Jones .... musical staging Ellis Rabb .... director: original stage production Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Vestron Video Great Performances Showtime