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
The excellent play by Phillip Barry, is the basis for the delightful transfer to the screen. The choice of George Cukor as its director seems to have been made in heaven. Indeed, Mr. Cukor clearly understood what was needed to make this film the classic it became. George Cukor's contribution, as well of the magnificent screenplay, by Donald Ogden Stewart, make this a timeless comedy that looks as fresh today as when it was originally released.
It helps tremendously that Katherine Hepburn had played Tracy Lord on the stage and knew what made her tick. Ms. Hepburn, an actress of enormous talent, is the embodiment of this society woman. Katherine Hepburn clearly understood her character. Having come herself from a privileged family, she was able to get deep inside her character. Tracy Lord is going to be married to George Kitteredge, a man from her own social circle. Deep down inside, Tracy can't get her mind from the man she really loves, the rascal Dexler.
The casting of Cary Grant as C.K. Dexler was a touch of genius. Mr. Grant had played opposite Ms. Hepburn before. He was an actor that always delivered and was always a welcome addition to any of the movies of the period. Mr. Grant, with his good looks, makes the perfect man to play the part. As Dexler, the man who broke Tracy's heart, he returns just before the wedding, perhaps to remind her he's still loves her and can't get her out of his mind.
James Stewart was the other happy casting of "The Philadelphia Story". He was relatively unknown to the movie going public, but he left his mark all over the picture. As McCauley (Mike) Conner, this actor was perfect. As the tabloid reporter infiltrating the society wedding he proved his impeccable sense of timing.
Ruth Hussey, contributes to the film in unexpected ways. Virginia Weidler, as Dinah, is irresistible. The rest of the ensemble cast is a director's dream. Mary Nash, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Henry Daniel and the rest, are perfect.
"The Philadelphia Story" will keep delighting audiences for many years to come.
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