The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  26 December 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 48,012 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
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Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on July 20, 1942, with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey and Virginia Weidler reprising their film roles. See more »


In the closing scene, a photographer takes a picture of Dexter and Tracy at their wedding. The camera makes a loud click and they react by looking at the photographer. Moments later, a photograph is shown; however, it shows them looking directly at the camera. Since the picture was taken first, Dexter and Tracy should be looking away from the camera. See more »


C. K. Dexter Haven: Orange juice, certainly.
Tracy Lord: Don't tell me you've forsaken your beloved whisky and whiskies.
C. K. Dexter Haven: No-no-no-no. I've just changed their colour, that's all. I'm going for the pale pastel shades now. They're more becoming of me. How about you, Mr. Connor? You drink, don't you - alcohol, I mean?
Macaulay Connor: Oh, a little.
C. K. Dexter Haven: [Amused] A little? And you a writer? Tsk, tsk, tsk. I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, at one time I think I secretly wanted to be a writer.
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Featured in Howard Hughes: His Women and His Movies (2000) See more »


Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
In the score after the photographer takes the picture at the wedding
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User Reviews

Three legends in their prime
20 May 2001 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

This is a delightful romantic comedy about the life and loves of a high society girl. Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is about to be married to George Kittredge (John Howard), a self made man who elevated himself from the lower class. The wedding is supposed to be a private affair, but Tracy's ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) blackmails her into letting two reporters, Macaulay Conner and Elizabeth Imbrie (James Stewart and Ruth Hussey) cover the event. What ensues is a screwball courtship for the heart of Tracy as everyone falls in love with her at once.

Director David Cukor (`Little Women', `My Fair Lady') provides a fast paced comedy with rapid-fire repartee and fosters a bubbly chemistry between the cast members, which brims with laughs. Cukor received one of his five Oscar nominations for this film and it was well deserved.

Katharine Hepburn is marvelous as the blueblood bride to be. She is a well-grounded girl who is not beyond putting on airs for show. She is simultaneously sassy and dreamy and her comic timing is superb earning her one of twelve nominations for best actress. Despite a star's billing, Cary Grant plays a supporting role as the sarcastic Dexter Haven. With his deadpan delivery, he provides the perfect foil to Hepburn and Stewart.

Even with the luminous cast, Jimmy Stewart steals the show with a comedic tour de force. His inebriated scene with Cary Grant is uproariously funny and his puppy dog wooing of Katherine Hepburn is enchanting. It is hard to believe that James Stewart only won one Oscar in his outstanding career. Though nominated five times, the only role for which he won the statue is this one, a performance that is unquestionably among his best.

This tremendous comedy brings together three screen legends at the peak of their careers. It was nominated for six Academy Awards winning two, and it was rated #51 on AFI's top 100 of the century. It is a timeless classic that is sure to please. I rated it a 10/10. See it and enjoy.

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