Sunday, October 17, 2010

Classic Movie of the Week: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Every time I watch The Philadelphia Story, I feel that there is something very special about the film. Of course, it could just be my future (although sadly deceased) husband and Princeton alumnus Jimmy Stewart in the only role he ever received an Oscar for, but I think there is more to it. The film forces me to reassess the way I judge the world and the people around me. At one point, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) says (while intoxicated), “The time to make up your mind about people is never.” And there is a lot of truth to that.

Tracy Jordan, a rich socialite, is about to marry for the second time. Her first marriage to C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), another rich socialite, was a very passionate affair that ended quite violently (in a fantastic wordless scene, Tracy breaks Dexter’s golf club as he is leaving and then he retaliates by grabbing her face and thrusting her back into the house. You can watch it here. I promise that C.K. Dexter Haven’s treatment of his wife does not look nearly as abusive as it sounds.). Now, she is about to be wed to George Kittredge (John Howard), a self-made man and an aspiring politician.

On the eve of her wedding, C.K. Dexter Haven shows up Tracy’s door with a photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey), and a reporter, Macaulay Connor (Jimmy Stewart) for the tabloid Spy magazine posing as two friends of her brother’s. From there, in traditional comedic fashion, all hell breaks loose.

You can watch the trailer here.

Side Note: There is a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story called High Society. Don’t watch it.

The Philadelphia Story can be rented through Netflix or through the Princeton University Library. The full movie might also be on YouTube…

-Lolita De Palma ‘14

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