Connections are the only thing that really matter in life, and one’s happiness is directly proportional to the quantity and quality of these connections. The big cosmic joke on us is that forming deep, meaningful connections with other people turns out to be really, really hard. It’s not just that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Each of us is our own solar system, formed by a combination of elements as unique as our fingerprints and leaving us able to observe each other only from afar across vast distances of mostly empty space. Fortunately, there are things to help us cross this space, at least temporarily. Art, for example. Roger Ebert called movies empathy machines. They are, and never more so than when experienced in a movie theater full of like-minded people.
Last week, I took a whirlwind trip to see The Philadelphia Story on the big screen in the Paramount in Austin, Texas, a theater in which not only must it have played in 1940, but over a stage on which Kate Hepburn had performed the play upon which it is based. Man, I really wanted to jump up on that stage! What can I say? It was heaven. I had seen The Philadelphia Story before, but seeing it in that setting with my wife next to me and surrounded by fellow enthusiasts was newly cathartic. I felt connected.
Philadelphia Story is a fantastic movie, a good one to play for people who don’t like old movies. It’s full of snappy dialogue like this exchange between Jimmy Stewart and Katherine Hepburn:
Macaulay Connor: What can I say to you? Tell me darling.
Tracy Lord: Not anything – don’t say anything. And especially not “darling.”
It stars Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, and Cary Grant. That’s like buying a ticket to a thrash metal concert and getting to see Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer.
The film has a 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 93% audience rating. I’d recommend it in any context. But if you get a chance to see it (or a similar classic) in a setting like the Paramount, well, that’s bucket list.