Tuesday, September 4, 2012

High Society (1956)



“I’m such an unholy mess of a girl.” 

            For a while now I have been very hesitant to watch High Society. The reason being is I like The Philadelphia Story so much and I really did not want to see a remake of the film. My mind was changed to finally see High Society after TCM aired their trailer for the film in between their showings. It looked good enough and I have been loving Frank Sinatra lately so I threw away my reluctance and watched it. I like to be pleasantly surprised when I watch a film I was not expecting to like too much and I was very pleasantly surprised with High Society.
            The plot of High Society follows the same plot as The Philadelphia Story with a few changes (I am not going into the plot since they are the same and I have already written about the first one). C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) is a music writer and singer. He wrote a song for Tracy (Grace Kelly) then turned it into a big hit which she was not happy about and that is why she divorced him. Also she wanted perfection from her husband and he was not giving it to her. Mike Connor (Sinatra) is a reporter but he has never written a book and he is also in love with Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm). Oh and Dexter lives next door to the Lords in a huge house his grandparents left him. I liked these little changes they were just enough to differentiate the two films and give this one something of its own to stand on.
            As for my favorite part of the film it is once again the scene where Tracy and Mike get drunk together. Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra were hysterical together.
            I liked the cast very much. I loved Sinatra as Mike Connor. For one minute you never believe the guy to be from Deluth like you do James Stewart in the original and I think that Sinatra was cast as a guy who was supposed to be from out west. But I like that he had such an innocent, sweet look to him that you could believe. You could believe this small time reporter is innocently attracted to this rich girl. Grace Kelly… where do I begin? She was a gorgeous girl and that is about it because talent as an actress she did not have. I honestly cannot tell you who was the more annoying Tracy Lord, Grace Kelly or Katharine Hepburn. Kelly is eerily like Hepburn with her speech with that phony British accent… actually I want to question Kelly’s accent she was originally from Philadelphia. I guess like Hepburn she made up her own accent to speak with. Kelly was ridiculously beautiful when she smiled her whole face just lit up. Bing Crosby was a cute choice for Dexter. I have not seen Crosby in too many films so I cannot really comment on him too much but I liked what I saw of him in this film. Celest Holm was two years younger than Sinatra but she looked like she could have played an older aunt. I have no complaints about her as an actress but for the character I felt her wrong. I was thinking of Ruth Hussey as Liz in The Philadelphia Story and she was perfect for the role I loved her quick wit, her fast comments, and the faces she made. I guess Liz was not written that way for the musical. I found the character boring when she had been so good. This was the last film Louis Calhern made before he died. He died while on location for his next picture of a heart attack. Poor guy I love seeing him in films. I will he say he went out well he was very funny and very charming as Uncle Willie.
            I as you can tell I could not help but compare High Society to The Philadelphia Story. I began to think if I could take cast members from both films for the characters who would I take? Who would be better in the roles? I would most definitely keep Cary Grant as C.K. Dexter Haven he was perfect in the role. Ruth Hussy would without a doubt stay as Liz. Roland Young would stay as Uncle Willie because I can picture him being the behind pincher and ladies man better than Louis Calhern. For Mike I would keep Sinatra, I do not mind James Stewart in the role but I really love Sinatra for the character he never became too much. As for Tracy… goodness both women are annoying beyond measure but I would have to go with Grace Kelly she is more believable in the role.
            High Society was a very good film. The story definitely works with the musical aspects. I am very glad I watched the film because as I said I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I started watching it before class when I was at school and had to wait over three hours to finish it! I knew the story but I was enjoying it and the characters and the differences from the original that I could not wait to get home and finish it.