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C.K. Dexter-Haven, a successful popular jazz musician, lives in a mansion near his ex-wife's Tracy Lord's family estate. She is on the verge of marrying a man blander and safer than Dex, who tries to win Tracy's heart again. Mike Connor, an undercover tabloid reporter, also falls for Tracy while covering the nuptials for Spy magazine. Tracy must choose between the three men as she discovers that "safe" can mean "deadly dull" when it comes to husbands and life.Written by
James Meek <email@example.com>
Even without Philadelphia Story to put it to shame, this is too much artifice, not enough wit
High Society (1956)
You can see this movie as one of the last of the great silver screen musicals —and running out of originality and verve. Or you can enjoy Cole Porter brought down to a middle class sensibility (never mind the wealth of the characters here). Or you can just marvel at some great footage of Louis Armstrong, and at the inclusion a black jazz band as a centerpiece in a big budget movie.
So there are reasons to give this movie a try, even though it is fairly slow going, and a pale shadow of the original, the truly great 1940 "Philadelphia Story." Grace Kelly plays the leading woman about to be married, and she lacks the cool stony quality that Hitchcock wisely taps and instead tries to be a lively, witty, physically lithe leading lady. Just like Katherine Hepburn? Yes, except she's no Katherine Hepburn, and it all feels a bit striving.
Likewise for Bing Crosby, who plays a laid back guy who happens to have a jazz band (and who does a good swinging song with Louis and crew alongside). He isn't quite screen magic—that is, he's no Cary Grant. Frank Sinatra is fine, but he has a smaller role. Alas.
And so it goes. Brightly lit, with big flashy Technicolor set design, the mood throughout is upbeat and fun and funny. And so it's not a bad thing to view.
But if you take at all seriously the contention of one man interceding on the groom for his ex-bride, whatever the Hays Code strategy, it just lacks edge and conviction. Cole Porter doesn't let us down, so there's always that!
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