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The Philadelphia Story (1940)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 43,721 users  
Reviews: 176 user | 88 critic

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

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(screen play), (based on the play by), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Stars: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday
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Cast

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Storyline

Philadelphia socialites Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven married impulsively, with their marriage and subsequent divorce being equally passionate. They broke up when Dexter's drinking became excessive, it a mechanism to cope with Tracy's unforgiving manner to the imperfect, imperfections which Dexter admits he readily has. Two years after their break-up, Tracy is about to remarry, the ceremony to take place at the Lord mansion. Tracy's bridegroom is nouveau riche businessman and aspiring politician George Kittredge, who is otherwise a rather ordinary man and who idolizes Tracy. The day before the wedding, three unexpected guests show up at the Lord mansion: Macaulay Connor (Mike to his friends), Elizabeth Imbrie - the two who are friends of Tracy's absent brother, Junior - and Dexter himself. Dexter, an employee of the tabloid Spy magazine, made a deal with its publisher and editor Sidney Kidd to get a story on Tracy's wedding - the wedding of the year - in return for Kidd not ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Broadway's howling year-run comedy hit of the snooty society beauty who slipped and fell - IN LOVE! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

26 December 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht vor der Hochzeit  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Stewart wasn't at all comfortable with some of the dialog, especially in the swimming pool scene, which also required him to act in a dressing gown. He said at the time that if he'd played the scene in just a swimming costume it would have been the end of his career. See more »

Goofs

When Mike is outside the library, there are no columns outside, but when he enters, the shot from inside the library shows one. See more »

Quotes

Macaulay Connor: I don't think you're being fair to me, Mr. Kidd.
Sidney Kidd: No?
Macaulay Connor: No. You're treating me like you treat all your other writers.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in MGM Parade: Episode #1.31 (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Sobre las olas (Over the Waves)
(1887) (uncredited)
Music by Juventino Rosas
Hummed by Dexter while "playing" the candles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Dictating her own comeback
12 November 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

After Katharine Hepburn was one of a group of stars dictated "box office poison" by the ruling moguls of Hollywood she went east and scored a complete triumph on stage with The Philadelphia Story. But our Kate was the shrewd one, she had the foresight to buy the film rights from author Philip Barry and peddle them to the studio that would guarantee her repeating her stage role and giving her creative control.

On stage she had co-starred with Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, and Shirley Booth all of whom became movie names later on, but meant nothing to Hollywood in 1940. She had the choice of leading men and cast in their places, Cary Grant, James Stewart and Ruth Hussey.

This was Grant's fourth and final appearance on screen with Hepburn. It's a typical Cary Grant part, witty and urbane, with a touch of the rogue in him. He's Hepburn's ex-husband, still very much in love with his ex-wife, but she's marrying stuffed shirt John Howard.

Reporter James Stewart and photographer Ruth Hussey are covering Hepburn's wedding for Spy Magazine, the National Enquirer of the day. Through a little judicious blackmail they're invited to this premier society wedding, but both feel out of place and used.

After The Philadelphia Story, Katharine Hepburn was a movie name the rest of her long life. Even with an occasional clinker no one ever questioned her about being box office poison.

James Stewart won the Best Actor Oscar in probably the most romantic he was ever on the screen. A lot felt it was a consolation Oscar for not winning it for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939. Stewart himself proclaimed to all who'd listen that he voted for good friend Henry Fonda in the Academy Sweepstakes for The Grapes of Wrath. I've always felt that when Stewart talked about those hearth fires banked down low to Hepburn, he was really talking about himself. He's a cynical fellow at first and his romantic side comes as a surprise to him more than even the audience.

The Philadelphia Story has become such a classic that even the musical remake High Society doesn't try to copy it, it just presents a softer musical alternative. But I'd kind of liked to have seen Hepburn do this with her original cast as well. Oscars were in the future for Van Heflin and Shirley Booth and Joseph Cotten the following year made his debut in the biggest film of all.


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