Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I love this movie.

The Philadelphia Story. is a wonderful gem: an extremely funny and smart effort from director George Cukor (Dinner at Eight, Adam's Rib) and a jaw-dropping cast of stars with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart.


Hepburn reprises her role of Tracy Lord from Philip Barry's smash Broadway play.

The beautiful daughter of a very rich society family, Lord's marriage to sailboat tycoon, C.K.Dexter Haven (Grant) went south, badly, two years earlier. Now, she's preparing to tie the knot with self-made man George Kittredge (John Howard). He's trying, sometimes badly, to fit into high society. Trying to ride a horse is, uh, difficult.


Celebrities and the rich were big news 71 years ago and even more so in today's status-loving North American society. That's why it's neat to see Stewart as Macaulay Connor, a magazine reporter who's reluctant to worm his way into the upcoming nuptials with photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey). The couple firmly closed the door to any media coverage of their wedding ceremony. Haven, even though he slugged a photographer when he was on vacation with Lord during their marriage, is more than happy to help the reporting duo slip into her moneyed world.

Connor initially clashes with Lord over their differences in status. He's a little sensitive on the money issue because his collection of short stories isn't flying off the shelves. He falls spellbound for her gorgeous looks, something other men have done with less-than-stellar results. "You're lit from within," Connor tells her after a generous helping of vino. "You're the golden girl." Kittridge also vows to worship Lord. She just wants to be loved.

So, Lord is about to marry one man while her first husband pines for a reunion and a new suitor is smitten with her goddess-like ways. Her younger sister, Dinah (Virginia Weidler) still has a soft spot for Haven. Kittridge? Not so much. She's wondering how she can delay the wedding.


Hilarious zingers are shared generously among the cast. There are plenty of laugh-out loud moments. Rolande Young, as Lord's Uncle Willie, is especially sharp with his tongue and his lecherous pursuit of Imbrie.

Infatuation versus true love. The privileged rich and the struggling worker. A second chance at love. A first real encounter with romance. Lots of comedy.

Consider this your invitation to watch The Philadelphia Story.

RATING: 10/10

FUN FACTS: The Philadelphia Story earned six Oscar nominations, including best picture, director and lead actress. The film won two Academy Awards for best actor (Stewart) and screenplay. Rolande Young's first film role was as Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes (1922). Virginia Weidler was just 41 when she died of a heart condition in 1968.

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