Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Philadelphia Story (1940)



“The time to make up your mind about people is never.” 

            I have seen The Philadelphia Story once before this. The first time I really did not think anything of it I thought it was good but that was all. This time around I again thought it was good and I now have an opinion on the acting. I do not think The Philadelphia Story is the best film from any of the main cast members but it is good and I like seeing all the actors working together.
            Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) and C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) married impulsively. When the film opens he is walking out the door when she bends one of his golf clubs and then he pushes her in the face onto the floor. Two years later Tracy is set to marry a man named George Kittredge who absolutely adores her. Tracy is not interested in publicity at all she does not want her wedding splashed all over the place while George wants it to be announced and at least one photo from the wedding in the paper. George is nouveau riche while Tracy’s family comes from a long line of distinguished rich people. He plans to run for government but Tracy does not want him to do that because of publicity.
            Dexter has taken a job with the gossip magazine Spy. The magazine’s editor Sidney Kidd has Dexter get into Tracy’s wedding along with reporter Macaulay “Mike” Conner (James Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey).  Mike is not happy about having to report like a gossip columnist. He is an author and wants to publish meaningful books but he knows what unfortunately pays the bills. Dexter takes the reporter and the photographer to the Lord house saying he has an invitation from Tracy’s brother Junior who is away in South America.
            Dexter’s presence at the Lord house is uncomfortable at best for Tracy and her mother. Her younger sister Dinah though is absolutely thrilled to have him she missed him. Tracy quickly knows what Dexter is up to so she decides to play a trick with Mike and Liz when she first meets them, she even gets Dinah to join in the joke.
            Throughout the day Tracy is faced with so many uncertainties. Dexter keeps talking to her sentimentally about their marriage and how happy they were together when they were not fighting. Mike is nothing but sweet to Tracy and she is sweet to him in return. That night Mike gets very drunk. He goes to Dexter’s house at four in the morning to talk to him about Tracy and their whole deal about covering their wedding. Dexter does not want to write the story any more than Mike and Liz want to cover it. Mike drunkenly lets slip that Sidney was given an award he should not have gotten and Dexter decides to use this as blackmail to not publish the story.
            Mike goes back to the house along with a drunken Tracy. The two continue drinking and talking outside her house until all hours of the morning. She had written George a letter telling him she cannot marry him they are so different they would not work. Tracy drags Mike to go swimming like she and Dexter used to do after parties. Both Dexter and George show up at the house to see Tracy. They arrive just as Mike is bringing Tracy back to the house after she fell asleep. He brings her up to her room for the night.
            The next morning Tracy and Mike are horribly hung over. She wakes up thinking that she did something she should not have with Mike the night before. Dexter has a talk with her about marrying George and her feelings and emotions get all stirred up. George shows up anyway in his suit in case Tracy should change her mind but he eventually sees he cannot marry her.
            In the end Tracy remarries Dexter and Mike sees that Liz loves and cares for him a lot.
            Sorry for the crappy review, I watched the film on Monday with my grandma and I did not have my notebook to write down notes on the film. I forget most of it and the details. Maybe I do not remember it because I kind of find the film forgettable. There are plenty of scenes that were funny like Mike going to Dexter’s house drunk off his rocker and his time with Tracy in the backyard.
            Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn have a strange chemistry. They made three films before this one together which I have seen and I think they had a strange romantic chemistry. I think that comes from Hepburn because she was the most unromantic leading lady that it is hard to see her acting as if she has to be romantically or sexually attracted to the opposite sex. Cary Grant could have had chemistry with a stick he was so romantic and such a good actor. I mean come on, Ingrid Bergman said she wanted to get with Grant and Ginger Rogers wrote in book that she often wonders if she would have married him if she was available when they met on the beach one time while they were both on vacation. The man just oozed charm and was so handsome. Their lack of chemistry could have been due to their characters as well because it seemed like Hepburn and James Stewart had great chemistry in their scenes together. James Stewart was just awesome in this film. I am not a huge fan of his he gets on my nerves too much in his films but I was loving him here he was so funny and so full of angst. I was cracking up with him when he goes to Dexter’s house drunk. I read that he adlibbed his hiccups and did not tell Cary Grant. You can see that Grant wants to laugh so bad but he keeps his composure. Those too were very funny together I can just imagine the outtakes they must have been cracking each other up so much. Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in this film and he completely deserved it. The Philadelphia Story is considered Katharine Hepburn’s best film. I will agree with that even though she does tend to over act in some scenes.      The film is based off the stage play of the same name that was written for Hepburn. I have issues with her after reading a biography of her, I could see what issues of her life the story was addressing. To me this just made her look like a spoiled not very good actress who needed to give her acting a boost. Hepburn had a lot of ego issues and this was just one of them.
            Ruth Hussey with her quickness saying her lines steals all her scenes. I have never seen her in a film before this and I like her a lot I would like to see her in more films. Liz was a good character she was the sane one in the middle of the chaos. Roland Young as Tracy’s uncle Willie was hilarious. He was an old playboy and went around pinching all the girls’ behinds. He even got Liz in a scene.
             The Philadelphia Story is not a bad film in the slightest it is very well written and extremely well acted by the entire cast. But there are points in the film where it became a bit boring to sit through. Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart continually test my patience whenever I watch them in films and did so a few times here. The Philadelphia Story is worth watching for the cast at least once and for if you want to call yourself a classic movie fan.