George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story (1940) Movie Review

"The time to make up your mind about people is never." 

Year: 1940
Director: George Cukor
Casts: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard
Genre: Romantic Comedy

This film rescued Katharine Hepburn's failing film career after several commercial flops that had led her to be labeled as "box office poison" in 1938 by Photoplay Magazine. In a strategy to revived her declining career, she acquired the film rights to a play specifically written for her to MGM with the help of Howard Hughes, for which she would later also starred in, given a lot of control over the film and had the film adaptation custom crafted for her, as a vehicle for her triumphant movie comeback. The film became a major box-office success and earned six major Academy Award nominations including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jimmy Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Macauley Connor in the film. Her career never looked back again since then.

The setting of the film is among the privileged upper class society in Philadelphia. Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn) is a young and beautiful socialite who is about to marry an aspiring politician George Kittredge (John Howard) what she thinks is the man of her life. The day before the ceremony, her pompous ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) with the intentions to stop the wedding unexpectedly appeared in her house bringing along an attractive journalist Macauley Connor (James Stewart) and photographer companion Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) assigned to cover her wedding. The unexpected guests complicated things and eventually forved Tracy to reevaluate her choices and led her to a journey of self-discovery.

Katherine Hepburn not only excel in The Philadelphia Story but she is THE Philadelphia story herself. She is at her most bursting all the clever lines in the dialogue to hold her lead not only in the film but also to her career. Cary Grant and James Stewart steals the show with their comedic tour de force handling banter after banter. And Ruth Hussey in her character of Elizabeth Embrie who is actually a warmth and softness lady beneath her sarcastic tart-tongue surface provides a melancholy moral center for the film.

The Philadelphia Story is packed of witty screenplay with plenty of snappy one-liners that sparkles. All of the casts had wonderful chemistry with one another that keep things moving. It is a well-rounded smart comedy with plenty to like.

My rate: 5 / 5 Charming


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