Movie Review: The Philadelphia Story, 1940

Friday, December 23, 2011

Katharine Hepburn on the set of the Broadway Play The Philadelphia Story, 1938
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt from LIFE Photo Archive
If there is one thing that I love about classic movies it's the witty dialogue, and The Philadelphia Story is no exception.  Katharine Hepburn is young, vibrant and utterly charming as Tracy Lord, a wealthy divorced socialite about to be married once more.  But the handsome and also charming Cary Grant, as C.K. Dexter Haven, has other plans for the egotistic and proud Ms. Lord.  In come Jimmy Stewart, as writer and reluctant reporter Mike Connor, and Ruth Hussey, as photographer and girlfriend to Mike, Liz Imbrie.  The pair have been assigned to cover the Lord wedding, but Tracy Lord is adamant that the press does not belong behind closed doors.  However, Lord's father is embroiled in a bit of a scandal with a young dancer, so with a little black mail the set up is complete.  Tracy's mother and younger sister wholeheartedly believe that her divorce from Haven was a mistake, so when he shows up, they are not so secretly pleased to have him back in Tracy's life.  At the core of the story is Tracy's "goddess" personality.  In a matter of minutes her ex-husband, her fiancĂ© and her father all tell her that she comes off as a big snob and isn't the most understanding of souls.  This pivotal moment shifts the story and pretty soon Tracy is in the middle of a four sided love triangle between herself, Haven, Connor and her fiancĂ©.  I really enjoyed the scenes between Hepburn and Stewart, especially when the two have too much champagne and end up dancing and swimming the night away under the stars.  Grant and Stewart's performances are also fun to watch as they play off of each other perfectly.  I did not know before watching this film that George Cukor had directed, and since he directed The Women which is one of my favorite films, I am not surprised how much I enjoyed The Philadelphia Story.  Add to that the pleasure of the costumes, sets, and all the supporting cast, and I am a very happy girl.

Here's the trailer:

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