Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Evening Movie Review

I was flipping channels last night, and I happened upon TMC showing The Philadelphia Story, the famous 1940 comedy starring James Stewart, Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, daughter of the wealthy and socially-prominent Philadelphian Seth Lord. Tracy used to be married CK Dexter Haven, played by Grant, but the marriage dissolved in acrimony and (for Haven) alcoholism. She is now engaged to marry George Kittredge (John Howard), a new man who has worked himself up from coal miner to mine general manager. The problem? Well, there are two problems, really. First is that scandal sheet mogul Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) wants pictures of the wedding in his magazine, Spy. Second is that Haven still loves Tracy. Kidd has incriminating information about the philandering of Seth Lord, and he uses this information to blackmail Haven into getting a reporter (and aspiring writer) named Macaulay Connor (James Stewart) and a photographer (and Connor's love interest) named Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) into the Lord house by vouching for them as friends of Tracy's brother, absent in the American embassy in Argentina. As you would expect, hilarity ensues, and everything turns out right in the end.

This is one of my favorite movies. I love Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, I love the clothes, and the movie is fun, funny, and entertaining. Of course, it would be impossible to film a movie with The Philadelphia Story's script nowadays. There are just too many, um, questionable lines. Consider the following:
Haven: How about you, Mr. Connor? You drink, don't you -- alcohol, I mean?
Connor: Oh, a little.
Haven: A little? And you a writer? Tsk, tsk, tsk. I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, at one time, I think I secretly wanted to be a writer.
Grant started out in Vaudeville, and he remained a master of comedic timing throughout his career. Stewart is just a fantastic actor, and he won the Oscar for his performance in this movie. It was one of his last movies before he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, later going on to fly B-17 bombers over Germany in World War II. I'm not a big fan of Katherine Hepburn, but she does a very good impression of aristocratic hauteur in this film. It's not overly deep, and I doubt that it will change your world view. But it is an example of what a good comedy can be. Would that Hollywood would remember what can be done before they turn out more of the same old crap.

1 comment:

mamacita said...

I cannot stand Katharine Hepburn. There, I said it. She talks so fast, with such wretched inflection, that I can barely understand what she is saying. I loved every other part of that movie, but, just like everything else she was in, she nearly ruined the whole thing for me.