The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  26 December 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 48,040 users  
Reviews: 178 user | 96 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.



(screen play), (based on the play by), 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Lionel Pape ...
Rex Evans ...


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


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


Comedy | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

26 December 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht vor der Hochzeit  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Katharine Hepburn's swimming pool dive is the real thing. No doubles were used. See more »


As Connor and Tracy exit the library, the boom mic is reflected on the windshield of Tracy's car. See more »


[Liz screams as Uncle Willie pinches her on the rear]
Macaulay Connor: Don't DO that!
Elizabeth (Liz) Imbrie: I... I feel exactly as though I'd been pinched.
Seth Lord: Don't you think you weren't.
See more »


Referenced in Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Abel & Willing (2010) See more »


Lydia, the Tattooed Lady
(1939) (uncredited)
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Music by Harold Arlen
Performed by Virginia Weidler (vocal and piano)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Plays your heart strings in a masterful glissando.
5 October 2003 | by (Indianapolis, IN) – See all my reviews

That this brilliant story originated on stage is obvious. The stage requires personas of epic and electric beauty. Philadelphia Story boasts three of the brightest stars that ever burned to occupy these personas, which they do with miraculous luminance.

The play, of course, was written for Hepburn by Phillip Barry, and after over 400 performances on Broadway she cleverly bought the film rights right out from under the noses of Hollywood moguls who fancied themselves smarter than Dear Kate. This came at a time when Hepburn was tops on the list of stars who had been labeled box office poison by producers.

The dynamics between the stars are legendary. Finer actors never lived, and these are the performances of a lifetime for each of them. Stewart is funny, smoldering, passionate and moving and he has moments, many of them, of stunning brilliance in each of those emotions. Grant is his typical stilted and elegant self, funny, gracious, urbane and, yes, beautiful. And then there is Hepburn. She is breathtaking to look at, and she plays your heart strings in a masterful glissando plucking at every emotion as she moves effortlessly across her entire unmatched range.

The supporting cast is worthy of the surplus of talent that surrounds them, and offer a few unforgettable moments of their own. And the presence of George Cukor, the greatest director of women in history, and the best director of Hepburn as well, coaxes every brilliant word of the script to its full potential.

You must not miss this treasure simply because it is from another era. It depicts that era with insight and irreverence that expose it, and the rarified world of old Philadelphia Money (yes, with a capital "M") like few films of its time, or any time, could. Every time I watch this movie, and the frequency would embarrass me if I were honest about it, I love it more.

Watch it. Study it. Assimilate every second of it and your understanding and appreciation of cinema will be enriched for it. And you'll have a great time doing it!

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