Director: George Cukor
Actors: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
|In this high society story of "the things they do among the playful rich," Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) and C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) have just been divorced and Tracy plans to remarry boring coal magnate George Kittredge (John Howard). Society newspaper reporters Conner and Liz (James Stewart and Ruth Hussey) infiltrate the house to cover the story. After a party, Tracy and Connor go for a drunken swim and George believes the worst. When he is proven wrong, and wants to go through with the marriage, Tracy turns him down and remarries C.K. Dexter Haven, her true intellectual match and the one her family liked anyway.|
|The intercouple antagonism in this movie is not as subtle as in other screwballs. The movie opens with an actual physical fight between Tracy and Dexter Haven. As she sends him packing out of her house, he winds up as if to punch her in her smug face. Thinking better of it, he instead shoves her down into the vestibule. The movie continues to drop hints about the violence in their relationship. Tracy talks about Dexter's deplorable drinking habits, and her little sister Dinah, constantly appearing at the most inconvenient times for the adults, asks whether its true that Dexter beat Tracy. The movie never confirms or denies this rumor, but Dexter comes dangerously close to admitting it: "I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, one time I secretly wanted to be a writer." Whether he did or not (and I think he did), the explanation that Tracy drove him to it is the movie's justification for his behavior.|
|Newspaperman Connor resents the rich with a passion. "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges," he remarks to Liz when they enter the Lord mansion. In his view, the upper class are a bunch of lazy people who inherited their social position. The Lords do not seem to reciprocate this class antagonism. Tracy is about to marry George, a man who has worked his way up American-style from poverty, and the class difference does not bother her at all. In the end this does actually matter, because practical, straightforward George is no match for Tracy's wit and sophistication. Dexter, a man of her own class, is, but she chooses him because he believes in her when George doesn't. This is not a class war, except in the imagination of the lower classes. George looks foolish in the end when he angrily claims that Tracy won't marry him because of his class. Connor learns that there's more to Tracy than her spoiled rich girl facade as Tracy learns to drop her ice maiden act and be human. The upper class are no different from anybody else, the movie informs us--they just have more money. Class antagonism was undoubtedly a problem the people of the Great Depression were accustomed to facing, and "The Philadelphia Story" happily resolves this by making a mockery of class envy.|
Reviews and Publicity
The New York Times raved over this film. See the review...