Thursday, 31 January 2013

''The Philadelphia Story'' (1940 movie)- Review

Directed by: George Cukor
Released: 1940
Country: United States

Main cast: Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler, Henry Daniell

Genres: Romantic comedy, Drama

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Tracy Lord is in a fix. She is to marry George Kittredge. Two years ago, she had divorced her first husband, C. K. Dexter Haven. Now she will marry Kittredge. Three people, two of them employees of the Spy Magazine, and the third one is Dexter, now recovered from his alcohol problems, arrive in Tracy's house. The two people pretend to be the friends of Tracy's brother Junius. Things take a complicated turn as Tracy goes through realizations, love, tears, laughters, smiles, within these two days.

George Cukor (who had previously directed Katherine Hepburn in his adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's ''Little Women'') directs this cheerful and lighthearted romantic comedy that makes you simply laugh out loud and that brings a smile. But to me it didn't seem a great movie. I thought it was just an above-average movie, and to me, it may be a forgettable experience. Yet, can I say this movie is not good? No!!! This movie is an above-average entertaining movie that deserves a watch. A passionate story it tells.

This movie was Katherine Hepburn's first big hit following several flops. Hepburn, who had played the tomboyish Joe in Cukor's ''Little Women'', plays the lighthearted Tracy in this film, and with her charm makes the character a delight. She is shown as a tomboyish, upper class woman. Though not spoiled, she is slightly haughty. Her planned marriage with George Kittredge (John Howard) gets quite a big popularity in the media. The publisher of the Spy magazine Sidney Todd (Henry Daniell) orders two of his employees, reporter Macaulay ''Mike'' Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to investigate the story. It turns out that Tracy's ex-husband C. K. Dexter Haven was a former employee for the Spy magazine.

So they work out on a plan. Mike and Elizabeth will acts as friends of Tracy's absent brother Junius. So they enter into the house, and Dexter confronts Tracy. The family, however, comes to understand that these people are from newspaper, not Junius's friends. Nevertheless, because they are under a blackmail, the family pretend that they don't know anything, and decides to present themselves as extremely elegant.

One of the most funny scenes are just at that time. Tracy's little sister Dinah, generally a tomboyish young girl, pretends to be extremely girlish and sings and plays the piano. That one was an extremely funny and bizarre scene.

Anyways, what happens is confusions. Tracy's uncle Willie has to pretend that he is Seth, Tracy's father, and Seth has to pretend that he is Willie. But these little deceptions don't last for long. And then, within these two days, through a number of events, Tracy realizes many things about herself, about her life, and has to think about her choices once again.

There is sort of a love rectangle thing in this film. Love triangle is something that is seen quite frequently in romantic films, but love rectangle? I guess that's a rare thing and it may even be difficult to construct. Yet ''The Philadelphia Story'' is completely a light film. But is there emotional depth in this movie? Of course, there is! 

I don't think ''The Philadelphia Story'' is a very great movie. While it is charming and without a doubt very impressive, yet to me the film was not memorable, and I doubt if it would be unforgettable to me. But certainly, it's a passionate love story, with such tender lightness and humor throughout. 

Katherine Hepburn is fascinating, bringing into life many emotions. James Stewart is excellent (oh well, I again have to repeat, he is excellent as he always is! He's such a great actor). Cary Grant is brilliant and Ruth Hussey gives great support, but next to them, the real praises should go to the brilliant Virginia Wiedler, who is so very amazing in her role as Tracy's young sister. 

The film is a real funny one, with the screenplay being excellent, the dialogues witty and some of them extremely memorable. All in all, ''The Philadelphia Story'' is a real entertainment. It didn't disappoint me, and the film is a real enjoyable and filled with entertainment, entertainment, entertainment! Maybe not very memorable, and the last few scenes are a bit slow-paced and may be boring, yet it absolutely deserves a watch. 

3.5 out of 5

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