Laid back and nonchalant, Cary Grant is the ex-husband hiring the press to snoop on the rich Lord Family, as Tracy Lord (Hepburn) intends to remarry. The affluence of the Lord’s is not to be ignored. There are expectations and roles to represent – and Tracy has no interest in doggedly following Daddy’s orders. But this rebellious streak can be found in the two who eventually vie for her love. Dexter (Cary Grant) and Connor (James Stewart) are both rebellious creatures. Dexter plots to spoil Tracy’s wedding, while Connor simply despises the entire elite system. It’s only George Kittredge (John Howard) who gamely attempts to follow the rules. If you’re to strike a lover off Tracy’s list, her husband-to-be is surely at the top.
The Philadelphia Story also holds a little history too, as this was Katherine Hepburn’s comeback film. After a run of failed films (including the magnificent Bringing Up Baby failing to pull in the crowds), she was deemed ‘box office poison’ by independent cinemas across America. Written by Philip Barry for the stage, Barry wrote the part with Hepburn in mind and it consequently led to a successful Broadway show co-starring Joseph Cotton. Interestingly, The Philadelphia Story was adapted further into a musical in High Society.
So, with your plans arranged for this weekend, there is no need to thank me. Instead, thank the impeccable comedic timing of Cary Grant and the cheeky face of Jimmy Stewart. In fact, thank Katherine Hepburn, who seems to be so exquisite that she turned the audience around and won their support. This was the beginning of her “comeback”, to lead to, among others, The African Queen. This is a romantic comedy of the highest order, and shouldn’t be missed.
*but we all make mistakes