Oh it’s all right Tracy. We all go haywire at times and if we don’t, maybe we ought to.
Philadelphia Story was available on Amazon tonight for $3.99 to rent or $5.99 to buy. I’m sure glad I bought it, as I feel certain this is one I will watch many times. There’s something about old Hollywood movies. I have no idea what it is. I suspect it may even be self-manufactured to a degree, but, for whatever reason, I can get lost in them in a way I can’t with anything else. Books used to do it; music still comes close sometimes, but nothing transports me like the best of old Hollywood, and Philadelphia Story is the best of old Hollywood.
Starring Kate Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, Philadelphia Story is known for being the movie that brought Kate Hepburn back in a big way after having been declared “box office poison.” She had a slump I guess. I dunno. I haven’t seen the movies that led Harry Brandt to proclaim that of her, but he must have felt like a fool after seeing this one. She’s fantastic, absolutely radiant. What’s more, Virginia Weidler is the only weak link in the entire cast.
As Wikipedia notes, the film “is considered one of the best examples of a comedy of remarriage, a genre popular in the 1930s and 1940s, in which a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry – a useful story-telling ploy at a time when the depiction of extramarital affairs was blocked by the Production Code.”
Genre film or not, when extraordinarily good dialogue is given to extraordinarily good actors, the movie transcends its humble plot trope and becomes something most critics don’t so much analyze or explain as simply gush about. Yeah, count me in. It goes a teensy-bit off the rails at the very end, but I still loved every minute of it. It reminded me of A Room with a View in that the story arc centers on a young woman betrothed to the wrong man who yet gains sufficient understanding of herself in time to avoid a disastrous marriage. In both cases, it is a man–the man she eventually marries–who helps open her eyes. Does that make it sexist? Or does that make the guys manic pixie dream guys? I don’t know. In terms of the impact such movies have on the cultural zeitgeist, perhaps that’s an important question to ask, but in terms of watching a feel-good movie, it’s blissfully irrelevant.