The Philadelphia Story

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locke
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The Philadelphia Story

Postby locke » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:10 pm

damn, late again.

The Philadelphia Story is the romantic comedy involving the the love triangle of Tracy Lord, CK Dexter Haven, and Macauley Conner. otherwise known as Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart.

the story begins silently, with jaunty bits of music whilst a woman, Hepburn, throws out her husband, Grant, and after she pushes him down the front steps and then throws his golfclubs at him (and breaks one over her knee, back when clubs were made of wood) he gets up and pushes her back inside the house.

Cut to intertitle: "Two Years Later"

Tracy Lord is getting married again, she's getting married to a stuffy and snobby social climber, a coal baron. Her house is in a titter because the wedding is in two days. They didn't have the wedding three years before because Tracy and Dexter had eloped to Maryland, so this is the first real wedding for the family.

Meantime in the office of the National Enquirer/People magazine/TMZ of the day, the editor in chief has brought in one of his grumpiest reporters (Connors) who wants to quit, the photographer who loves him, and CK Dexter Haven. The plan is that the sleaze slinger publisher has a nasty story on Tracy's father, turns out he's been having a steamy affair in NYC, and the publisher is going to lead with the story unless he gets an inside exclusive look at Tracy's swanky Lord wedding this weekend. CK Dexter Haven is their ticket in to get to talk to the family. Thing is Dexter doesn't want anyone to know he's helping Tracy out so they go through some subterfuge in establishing a smoke screen that will get the family's reluctant approval.

Trouble is that this means Dexter is around Tracy a lot and so is Connor, and as the romantic sparks fly in every direction except that of the fiancee the story whirls dramatically about.

In the midst of all this, we have Virginia Weidler brilliantly stealing every scene she's in playing Dinah, Tracy's younger sister. Dinah is obnoxious, smart, funny, rude and quite cunning. And although Dexter is playing a game she can't fathom, Dinah quite believes she is playing a game all herself, one with designs on breaking Tracy and her fiancee up and fixing her up with one of these other men.

Additionally there is confusion regarding Tracy's father and uncle and a lot of internal family politics and generational strife as Tracy tries to convince her mother she should divorce her father for infidelity.

Yet despite all this heavy drama the film is absolutely and incredibly hilarious. It truly has one of the greatest scripts of all time, and I would say it's one of the best two or three romantic comedies of all time. Hepburn Grant and Stewart are at their very best and Stewart won his only oscar for this role, partially as a makeup for his losing the prior year for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but mainly because he's brilliant here. Stewart was a straight laced boy in reality, and he'd never been drunk as the film requires him to be, yet he plays his scenes of inebriation absolutely perfectly, from the way he tries to pretend he's not as drunk as he is, to his voice getting louder or softer depending on his mood. And his romantic scenes are just as powerful, the best and most winning of his career, I would say, topping even those in The Shop Around the Corner. Soft or loud, Stewart plays the role to the hilt and delivers one of his finest performances.

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So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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