on 17 April 2010
I won't bother to review the film as others on this page have already done so, other than to say it has a stellar cast all at their sparkling best and directed by the brilliant George Cukor. What I would like to draw your attention to, in this two disc set, is the fantastic special features disc. This features TWO documentaries, TWO radio productions of the script from the forties featuring the same stella cast and a couple of amusing oddities. The documentary on Katherine Hepburn BY Katherine Hepburn is worth the admission price alone. She reflects back on her life and career with a warmth and candour and, of particular interest to me, her relationship with the late, great Spencer Tracy. The other documentary is an edition of 'The men who made the movies' which gives an interesting insight into the career of George Cukor. I would suggest that anyone who has an interest in movies should have this film as part of their collection but in particular please buy this two disc edition.
on 10 April 2000
I first saw this movie one Christmas, by chance, at two a.m. after coming in late from work - and even though I was REALLY tired I stayed till the end. Hepburn, Grant and Stewart are all in great form - the humour is fast, in the best of the "forties" style. Much of the "action" is verbal with the plot driven via the dilemma facing Tracy on the eve of her wedding - should she or shouldn't she? - the humour is in WHY!. The story ultimately conveys how Tracy Lord falls foul of her own snobbery and finally grows out of it.
The musical just does not compare - even though I like Frank in High Society - Grace Kelly could not spout enough of that slightly vinigared vim that KH does so well and Bing Crosby could not hope to replace Cary Grant's suave aire and understated humour. Much of the wit hinges upon this contrast and whether there will be a resolution!
- I could go on, but I would not like to spoil the movie for those who have not yet had the pleasure. If you like sophisticated, subtle humour - (at times quite gentle, but with an underlying theme that amplifies each quip), an outstanding script and skillful comic acting from all concerned, this is one for you.
They don't make films like this these days, more's the pity. OK, it helps when you have lead actors of the calibre of Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, and they're not exactly a dime a dozen.
Maybe studios fear a modern audience wouldn't appreciate the witty dialogue which all the actors get a piece of instead of lots of action and explosions?
Hepburn plays spoiled rich girl Tracey Lord, about to embark on another marriage. Cary Grant is her ex-husband, and James Stewart the cynical journalist assigned to cover the wedding as an undercover expose. Hepburn's actual fiance barely makes an appearance, as the sparks fly between the soon-to-be-married Tracey and both men.
See this for some of the best work from the three stars, and for the sparkling dialogue; and a sophisticated comedy which, whilst a period piece, still comes alive with great freshness on the screen.
on 3 February 2011
Other reviews will mention that this is a glorious movie. Fabulous plotting, dialogue (screenplay), directing, cinematography and performances. We know this. I just want to recommend watching it while listening to the commentary by Jeannine Basinger, available on disc one of this DVD package. She covers the actors and their acting, offers fascinating detail (like that Cary Grant demanded an extortionate fee to appear, and insisted it be donated to Britain's war effort!) and erudite description of the technical aspects of the making of the movie. Her commentary is deep and informative, full of historical detail and sensitive criticism. You won't hear the film while listening to her (maybe use subtitles simultaneously if you want to get that, if you can), but you will get a substantial, wide-ranging and fascinating lecture delivered in a melodious voice. Marvellous.
Firstly, I watched this as a Korean import DVD, which is quite a bit cheaper but possibly, of inferior quality. There's only one disc, for starters and once subtitles have been switched off, plays like any other, though reviewers have mentioned the excellent transfer of the version advertised. This one is very good, thankfully without the dreaded juddery panning shots that I so often suffer with Korean ones, but it's not as crisp as I know other films of this period can be.
Philadelphia Story is undoubtedly an evergreen classic. The getting drunk scenes with Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart and the romantic "results" are sent from heaven, the chemistry, Jimmy's famous drawl, the shimmering lighting - beautiful and touching. Magic.
This film can be seen countless times; its mixture of satire, romance, comedy and sheer story have probably never been bettered on screen. That it features three of the biggest acting stars on the planet at the time, who actually DO get on with each other, no off-set personality clashes (that I'm aware of) that might spill over into the scenes, creates a real sense of ease and naturalness.
Philly Story is essential viewing to all true lovers of film - even if it's not your usual fare, it's an example of how to make a film. For fans of either Grant, Hepburn or Stewart, you've been missing a great deal and seeing them together WILL change your life, well, at least your enjoyment of it!
The thought of uniting Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart on screen is a mouth-watering prospect, almost guaranteeing something magical – and George Cukor’s 1940 classic film doesn’t disappoint. Based on Philip Barry’s play and with an alternately witty, zany, romantic and touching (and Oscar-winning) script by Donald Ogden Stewart, Cukor’s film uses art director Cedric Gibbons’ beautifully designed 'aristocratic mansion’ setting to great effect – allowing each of the film’s main protagonists to play off one another, mixing elements of farce and silent era comedy with Ogden Stewart’s sharp, satirical dialogue to irresistible effect. In keeping with the film’s theatre stage background, Cukor uses music sparingly, but Franz Waxman’s score hits the mark every time, whether it be to mimic moments of on-screen farce or during the film’s more serious, emotive moments.
It’s now difficult to imagine (original choices) Clark Gable and Spencer Tracey playing the Grant and Stewart roles here, as the latter pair each deliver near-career best performances – Grant as the wealthy C K Dexter Haven, an 'ex’ to Hepburn’s society girl, Tracy Lord, and Stewart as the hack journalist and ‘ordinary guy’, Macaulay ('Mike’) Connor, who ‘puts the cat among Tracy’s pigeons’ as her imminent wedding day approaches. Hepburn, though, is really the star of this show. At the centre of a trio of admirers, Dexter Haven, Connor and John Howard’s dull, 'poor man made good’ and fiancée to Tracy, George Kittredge – all of whom see her in a different light – Hepburn’s turn of ‘self-discovery’ revitalised her career, showing that beneath the façade of (oft-panned) priggish 'ice queen’, there beats a vulnerable, passionate heart (such humanising qualities increasingly evident in her turn here). Perhaps surprisingly, Stewart was the only Oscar winner of Cukor’s star trio – his performance mixing ‘awed innocence’ with 'drunken obliviousness’ brilliantly – whilst Grant, having chosen the more restrained role over that taken by Stewart, mixes typically barbed quips (particularly in his sparring with Tracy and George) with more reflective passages (a highlight being his scene with an intoxicated Connor). Elsewhere, Cukor cast some superb supporting players – including Ruth Hussey’s photographer Elizabeth Imbrie, the subject of attention for Roland Young’s brilliantly comedic 'old lech’, Uncle Willie, and John Halliday’s estranged father to Tracy, Seth (the pair featuring in another standout scene in which Tracy is at her most vulnerable).
Cukor’s film succeeds as much on its poignancy and strength of characterisation as it does on its (admittedly plentiful) moments of out-and-out hilarity. A point of comparison is that with Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (probably my favourite of all Hollywood comedies), the trio of Grant, Hepburn and Howard here frequently reminding me of Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy in Hawks’ film – Hawks’ film also makes points around mismatched couples and the exploitative nature of the gutter press, of course. I have a slight preference for His Girl Friday (Grant is simply unbeatable in the film), but Cukor’s film is undoubtedly another defining film of one of Hollywood’s greatest eras.
on 24 April 2014
This region 1 (USA region) DVD was considerably cheaper than the region 2 (UK region). It was advised that it was being despatched from the US and therefore the expected extended delivery time was accepted, particularly as the price and P&P were so good. It arrived in perfect condition (new & sealed), plays well on a multi-region DVD player and arrived much faster than the latest expected delivery date. Very good service, very pleased
on 28 August 2010
Excellent film, brilliant comic timing, completely different to the Frank Sinatra/Grace Kelly remake. I never tire of watching this, and as a fickle film watcher, that is high praise. All the cast at their best, and could still teach the present day 'stars' more than a thing or two.
Bargain price at amazon, cheaper than renting, I doubt you would be disappointed.
on 21 July 2005
Lots of people think this film is too long winded and at some times taking itself too seriously, but with a cast like Cary Grant, James Stewart, Katherin Hepburn and Ruth Hussey where can you go wrong? It's hilarious and the interaction of the characters is great. Personally I am undecided if I prefer this or High Society!
on 25 July 2013
When I first saw this in my 20's, I was amazed at how I really got it. I have watched it again from time to time and over that 30 years it has never lost its wit and shine. I usually prefer heavier stuff in films, but when anybody asks what is my favourite film I never hesitate - The Philadelphia Story.