1 Year, 100 Movies: #44 The Philadelphia Story (1959)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Ah, be still my heart- another Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn classic. Toss in James Stewart and we have ourselves a movie. These incredible actors- combined with the amazing acting prowess of a 13 year old Virginia Weilder create a whirlwind of amazingness. The natural sense of comedic timing, the facial expressions, and dialogue slinging are natural and spot on for each of these actors. ‘The Philadelphia Story‘ is a joy to watch.

Directed by the lucky George Cukor, this film tells the story of a young socialite, Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn), a flighty and headstrong divorcee- who plans to marry the self-made George Kittredge (John Howard). Tracy is very private with her personal life, and is hostile toward gossip magazines. Rightfully so, as it turns out- the editor of Spy Magazine, Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) wants an expose on the wedding. Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) is an intelligent fiction writer working for Spy to pay the bills. Kidd enlists C. K. Dexter Haven- one of his former employees, and Tracy’s ex-husband- to introduce Connor and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) as friends of the family so they can go undercover and report on the wedding. Tracy isn’t fooled, but reluctantly lets them stay after Dexter explains that Kidd has an innuendo-laden article about her father Seth (John Halliday), who Tracy believes is having an affair with a dancer. Even though her father and mother are separated and she harbors resentment toward him, she wants to protect her family’s reputation.

Dexter is welcomed back warmly by Margaret (Mary Nash) and Dinah (Virginia Weidler), Tracy’s teenage sister- much to Tracy’s annoyance. Additionally, Tracy sees qualities in Mike that she admires, and even takes the time to find his published stories in the library. Layers of emotional intrigue build as we watch the budding friendship/romance between Tracy and Mike. We see Dexter always around, and Liz- the dutiful colleague/Mike’s love interest on standby watching Mike from afar. As the wedding nears, Tracy finds herself torn between her fiance, her ex-husband, and the reporter.

On the eve of the wedding, Tracy gets drunk for only the second time in her life, and takes an innocent swim in her backyard pool with Mike. When her finance George spots Mike carrying her into the house afterward he thinks the worst. The next day he tells her that he deserves an explanation before going ahead with the wedding. Tracy cannot accept his lack of faith in her and breaks off the engagement- (which has been a long time coming). All of the wedding guests are seated waiting for the ceremony to begin. There is not a lot of time left in the film to get things sorted.

The wonderful thing about this film is that it offers two wonderful female characters and two amazing male characters, so you keep changing your mind as to which pairing you would prefer. I found myself cheering for the couple on screen at the moment, but I was very happy with the resolution. Once in awhile your evening just needs some champagne, witty conversation, and a moonlit dip. When it does, “The Philadelphia Story” is the ticket.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:



One response to “1 Year, 100 Movies: #44 The Philadelphia Story (1959)

  1. Pingback: 1 Year, 100 Movies: #9 Vertigo (1958) | thegreentreeischirping

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