The Philadelphia Story

Synopsis: Sophisticated romantic comedy achieved its pinnacle in this timeless classic voted one of the Top 100 American Films of all time by the American Film Institute. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Best Actor Academy Award®- winner James Stewart star in the masterful comedy (directed by George Cukor) about a faultfinding, bride-to-be socialite who gets her comeuppance.

The Philadelphia Story 7.5

I think that I should be rating ‘The Philadelphia Story’ higher; I mean, I know that I enjoyed it much more the first time that I saw it. However, the sound on my current copy of the film isn’t crystal clear and it doesn’t provide subtitles. Combine that with a dialogue-based film and you’ve got a recipe for disaster: I simply couldn’t keep up with what was being said – I was always a few beats behind, trying to figure what I’d just missed.

Too bad, too, because the zingers are non-stop and relentless. It’s so repartee-intensive, in fact, that the story was consequently left relatively bare-bones – there is very little development, and what there is is of questionable significance (anyway, farces about the days leading up to a wedding are so many it’s hard to imagine that they never existed). However, having said that, this razor-sharp script has provided performers with material that they could totally sink their teeth into.

It must be an actor’s dream, actually, in that they have plenty of opportunities to strut their stuff – so it’s hardly surprising that the film adaptation drew the likes of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart. ‘The Philadelphia Story’ was originally conceived as a play, and it shows its roots: the setting doesn’t change at all, the action is limited and the exchanges require an audience’s full attention.

It’s loads of fun if you like that sort of thing, though. Granted, one might be hard-pressed to care about any of the characters or about the outcome of their sordid lives, but I don’t believe that was the point: the purpose was for the writer to show off his cleverness and for the actors to go to town with his quick wit.

They did, and I’m hardly surprised that ‘The Philadelphia Story’ was a hit and won awards. In fact, I think it deserved it. And I’m convinced that it deserves another viewing or two – hopefully with running subtitles or a copy of the script by my side.

What do you think?

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