Stephen Speicher

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

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9 posts in this topic

It had been years since I've seen this. Recently, I was talking about old classic movies with my wife. She told me she had never seen this one. I said, "Oh no! You gotta be kidding me! That situation needs to remedied, immediately!" :angry2: So we rented it and watched it one weekend night.

The cast is magnificent! What's not to love about Hepburn & Grant? :angry2: Perhaps one of the most memorable opening scenes ever from a comedy movie (at least to me). Jimmy Stewart plays the "aspiring novelist working as a jaded reporter" to perfection. His photographer sidekick played by Ruth Hussey does a great job delivering many deadpan, comic lines. Almost all the dialogue is clever, snappy and hilarious.

It's just a zany comedy, but a GREAT deal of fun.

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This film also contains my very favorite drunk scene of all time (the one between Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant). My favorite actor in this film is Jimmy Stewart (though everyone is very good), and the film is generally a pleasure to watch (though I have to be in a certain mood) because --

There is a nauseating preachiness throughout it, and if you're unable to overlook it, it can be positively irritating. The preachiness constitutes the theme, and is actually reinforced pretty constantly, though (for the most part) with some wit, except in most blatant instances. There are a couple of outright sermons: One from the hypocritical father to his daughter and one from C.K. Dexter Haven to his Ex, plus the little "message" at the ending. All of them tell us that "we" can't be happy unless we "become human beings," by which the author means - have weaknesses and tolerate the weaknesses of others.

Still, the film is quick and clever, with some interesting situations, a number of amusing minor characters, and good dialog ("Dost thou have a washroom?" -- "The course of true love..." "Gathers no moss" -- "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges." - ) It is an adapted play, so if you do not like that sort of thing be warned.

Of the four principles, Ruth Hussey (playing the photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie) has the best one-liners "Uh-oh, Liz, what did I tell you? Look, how do you like this - living room, sitting room, terrace, pool, stables." "That's probably so they can talk to the horses without having them in the house." -- "I'm so glad you came. Can you use a typewriter?" "No, thanks, I've got one at home."

And I like the wicked Uncle Willie "Never play with fire child. Particularly on the eve of your wedding." -- "Must we ride in this thing? [a pony cart - Uncle Willie has a hangover] Wouldn't we be more comfortable on pogo sticks?" and the little sister, Diana Lord: "I look wonderful - and I smell good too."

Worth seeing for those who like vintage Hollywood black and white films with great dialog and acting.

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I liked the 1956 remake, High Society, better. Much of the Philadelphia Story's dialogue was retained but the mood seems brighter and warmer than the original. And some great music was addeed (Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Sinatra; music/lyrics by Cole Porter)

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I just watched this movie for the first time. I regret to say that this is my least favorite movie out of all that I have seen made prior to the 1950's, in spite of the excellent cast. Maybe it's just the place I'm at with my life, but the theme of this movie was much worse than irritating or nauseating for me. I found it horribly, unforgivably offensive and poisonous. I believe that the film suggests that we should do much more than "tolerate" the weakness of others. The clear implication, as I see it, is that a person, especially a woman (Hepburn), is not worthy of love (from Grant) unless she is weak, that no relationship is possible with her until she engages in irrational and impulsive behavior and self doubt, and that any man who thinks he loves a woman for her strength instead of her weakness (Stuart) is also not worthy of love, and could doubtfully ever make the woman happy.

There are also a lot of stupid statements of class prejudice that are pointless to the story and only serve to produce a kind of cynical and/or self deprecating sentiment against the American upper class.

Ugh, I really hated this movie. The drunk scene was very well acted, and there was some decent dialog, but the film overall was very disturbing for me.. I'd say it's kind of the opposite theme of Ideal. It basically says that there are women who are (approximately) like the Ayn Rand heroines, and they are they worst and unhappiest kind of woman there is, that they should get off their pedestal and get down in the muck with the rest of "us," and a true man will show her what a hopeless mess she really is and should be, so that they can be immoral and "human" together, and he can get drunk and beat her (yes, explicitly stated as such!) and then that's true happiness. What a load. : (

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It basically says that there are women who are (approximately) like the Ayn Rand heroines

What I meant is, women who are proud (that's only one aspect of an Ayn Rand hero, and not enough to qualify a character as such, but still an important attribute in anyone of virtue).

I see this movie as a polemic against pride in women (and really in anyone).

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You can't go wrong with Grant and Hepburn. I loved Bringing up Baby too! :lol:

True. But Tracy and Hepburn. What a pair! Nothing has equaled their on-screen chemistry before or since.

Bob Kolker

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But Tracy and Hepburn. What a pair! Nothing has equaled their on-screen chemistry before or since.

Their off-screen chemistry had a lot to do with it. :lol:

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