A young man falls in love with a girl from a rich family. His unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life is met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long suffering brother.
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
Katharine Hepburn, my favourite actress, gives the performance of her career as Tracy Lord, a spoilt Philadelphia socialite. The movie is a triple treat, with my other two most favourite actors, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, in the other lead roles, Cary as Tracy's former husband C.K Dexter Haven, and Jimmy as the peeved reporter who Kate falls in love with.
Although there has been much written about Jimmy Stewart not deserving the Oscar that year, if it was given for the Academy passing over his performance in "Mr Smith Goes to Washington", then it was well deserved. Cary Grant deserved a nomination, and Kate definitely should have taken out the prize for the year. I could be going to extremes, but I think this was definitely the movie that deserved to take home the statuette for Best Picture of 1940. I have seen both "Rebecca" and "The Grapes of Wrath", movies highly acclaimed that year, but neither has ever come close to "The Philadelphia Story".
The first time I watched it I missed not only most of the witty one-liners, but the whole point of the story. It was the first movie I watched with each of the three stars. Almost a year later after I viewed it again I couldn't believe how I could have passed over such a rare gem.
As a fourteen year old, I can't be pretentious in definitely knowing the real themes of the movie. Maybe something in the way of humility and degrees of acceptance, I'm not so sure. I have thought about it a lot, but have only reached the conclusion that it is one of those 'feel good' movies that is re-watchable. There are things about it, even close to my tenth viewing, that I am still picking up on.
Lead by Ruth Hussey and Virginia Weidler, the supporting cast of "The Philadelphia Story" is one of the finest I have seen.
With Cole Porter songs, and yet another star cast, this movie was shockingly remade into the musical "High Society" in 1956. On all accounts, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm cannot match the sophistication and wit of the non-musical cast. It seemed too much like recycled humour, despite its attempts to modernize an immortal story.
This movie is a slice of Old Hollywood that must not be sampled once to enjoy it. It should be taken in many times!
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