The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Hollywood Masterpiece'The Philadelphia Story' is a sophisticated romantic comedy film made in 1940, directed by George Cukor and starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. The movie, which has become an evergreen classic, is based on the Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry.
James Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Heburn
'The Philadelphia Story' is extraordinarily well-done and is regarded, not only as one of the best comedy movies ever made, but also as one of the great masterpieces of Hollywood film-making. Its screenplay is sharp and bright and the three main stars are pefectly cast and perform at the peak of their powers. The film cleverly maintains a perfect balance between an outward veneer of elegance and sophistication whilst being outrageously funny and silly at the same time.
Barry's original play was inspired by the real-life socialite, Hope Montgomery Scott, and ran on Broadway for a full year starring Katharine Hepburn as Tracy Lord. She had already been labelled "Box-Office Poison" by The Independent film Journal and, with the success of the play she very shrewdly puchased the movie rights from Barry and then sold it to MGM with the proviso that she reprise her leading role and that she could choose the director and cast. Her original choices were Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy but as neither were available, Grant and Stewart were cast.
The plot centres round the tangled web of relationships involving wealthy Philadelphia socialite, Tracy Lord. The twists and turns of the plot as the relationships between the main characters ebb and flow are many and provide much of the humor. The script abounds with quick-fire repartee and George Cukor directs with precision and wit and brings out scintillating performances from the wonderful cast.
The film was an enormous success on release and even today, retains much of its freshness. It won Academy Awards for James Stewart (Best Actor), and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart (Best Adapted Screenplay) and received nominations for George Cukor (Best Director), Katharine Hepburn (Best Actress), Ruth Hussey (Best Supporting Actress), and Best Picture (Joseph L. Mankiewicz - producer). Cary Grant donated his $100,000 salary to British war relief. The Philadephia movie was remade in 1956 as the musical 'High Society' starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly, but, music aside, the remake is inferior to the original. .
Main CastCary Grant ... C. K. Dexter Haven
Katharine Hepburn ... Tracy Lord
James Stewart ... Macaulay Connor
Ruth Hussey ... Elizabeth Imbrie
John Howard ... George Kittredge
Roland Young ... Uncle Willie
John Halliday ... Seth Lord
Mary Nash ... Margaret Lord
Virginia Weidler ... Dinah Lord
Henry Daniell ... Sidney Kidd
CreditsDirector ... George Cukor
Producer ... Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Production company ... Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Screenplay ... Donald Ogden Stewart
Story ... Based on the Broadway play by Philip Barry
Format ... B & W
Initial Release ... 17 January, 1941
Running Time ... 112 minutes
Academy AwardsTwo Wins:
Best Actor ... James Stewart
Best Screenplay ... Donald Ogden Stewart
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Best Director ... George Cukor
Best Actress ... Katharine Hepburn
Best Supporting Actress ... Ruth Hussey