The Philadelphia Story (1940) Review

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Tracy Lord is due to marry for the second time but her ex-husband and reporter C.K. Dexter Haven isn’t going to make that easy for her. He turns up a few days before the wedding with a reporter and photographer to get the inside scoop!

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Dexter and Tracy did not enjoy a full marriage and it broke down as quickly as it happened. Both very passionate characters who manage to bring out the best and worst in one another. George Kitteredge is to be her new husband and seeing them together it is clear that they are not well matched at all. He wants to change everything about her and that is something that Tracy is surely not going to be able handle?

Dinah Lord her younger sister is a fantastic character and incredible throughout the film bringing everyone together at different times. She has a good relationship with Dexter and is very happy to see him back in town. Macaulay Connor and Elizabeth Imbrie are given the task for the tabloid like paper to get the inside scoop on the wedding. Something neither of them were actually interested in doing, although they are taken in by how the rich live.

Something truly incredible about this film is the character of Tracy. This film was made in 1940 and the way she acts is certainly not what we would expect from this decade. When men were seen as being better and more superior to women. The way she behaves and acts not wanting to be told to what to do, must have actually been rather shocking at the time. It is fantastic to watch in 2020 knowing that these female characters have always been around and always written.

This leads directly to being able to gush about Katharine Hepburn. You can tell that she did this role on stage as she was on Broadway doing it, something that then comes across so well within a film. As she would have become this character so many times capturing it on film would have been the best transition. Another small fact was that she actually owned the rights to the film as they were bought for her by Howard Hughes! James Stewart won the Best Actor for his role and I have to admit that I really enjoyed the drunk scene with Cary Grant, it was downright hilarious! Interesting though that he did not feel he deserved it for this performance and claimed it was more of a consultation that he did not win the previous year for Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Cary Grant is one of my favourite actors and watching him in this one was a pleasure as always, not in the biggest/showy role but it was good to see him doing something slightly different. Virginia Weidler was an absolute scene stealer and I loved her piano playing “Lydia” moment! Not forgetting to mention Ruth Hussey who I had not seen in anything up until this film who was nominated for supporting actress.

The film was nominated for five Oscars and I can fully understand why. It certainly is very well acted and a lot of fun as well. I already knew the gist of the story as I have seen High Society which is the musical version of The Philadelphia Story.

12 thoughts on “The Philadelphia Story (1940) Review

  1. Absolutely glorious film. I’m finding these old screwball comedies to really help out in these dismal times, and this one is my favourite. Cary Grant’s ‘Hello Friends and Enemies’ makes me grin from ear to ear, but both he and Stewart are support acts to Hepburn. What a star that woman was.
    Right, going to watch this again this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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