August Blind Spot: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

PhiladelphiaStoryPoster

Instead of a straight review, this post is more of my reaction of the movie and the cast, so I’m going to include some observations as well as trivia from IMDb.

There’s been a lot of ‘firsts’ with some of the Blindspot movies I saw. Well, with this one, it’s a lot of ‘seconds.’ It’s the second George Cukor film I saw (the first was My Fair Lady, but I’m not counting Gone With the Wind as he was fired early on from his directing duties) and it’s also the second Cary Grant + Katharine Hepburn film I saw after Bringing Up Baby.

It is however, the first time I saw both Cary Grant AND Jimmy Stewart in a movie together and honestly, that’s the main draw for me. I was also curious because this movie was regarded as one of the best rom-coms, in fact it ranked #5 on the AFI’s list of 10 greatest films in that genre. Well, now that I’ve seen it, I think it’s an enjoyable movie but it wasn’t GREAT by any means, in fact it got a bit silly at times and Stewart seems awkward in some of the scenes and not as effortless in comedy as Grant was. That’s why I was  surprised that Stewart actually won Best Actor that year, say what? Well, apparently the actor himself was shocked as well. According to IMDb, ‘Stewart never felt he deserved the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in this film, especially since he had initially felt miscast. He always maintained that Henry Fonda should have won instead for The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and that the award was probably “deferred payment for my work on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)”.’ Yep, I totally agree Stewart should’ve won for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which was another Blindspot film I saw earlier this year (read my review).

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Now, for those who haven’t seen the film, the film is about a socialite, Tracy Lord (Hepburn) whose wedding plans to nouveau riche George Kittredge (John Howard) are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) and a tabloid magazine journalist Macaulay Connor (Stewart). The movie didn’t immediately click with me, which I often find with some classic films I saw, but fortunately it got a bit more engrossing as the film progressed. One reason I didn’t click with the movie right away could be because I couldn’t quite warm up to Hepburn. Yes I know she’s one of Hollywood’s best actresses and the most decorated with 12 nominations and four wins (WOW!), but out of the three films I saw her in, I find that she’s not immediately sympathetic. I mean there are other actresses who often play strong independent women with minds of their own, but they somehow still have a certain vulnerability and even warmth about them that I don’t quite see in Hepburn.

In any case, the movie itself is enjoyable enough, but lack the emotional resonance I felt with say, The Apartment or Roman Holiday. The actors are fun to watch as they’re bantering with one another, but I feel somewhat detached from them that it was hard for me to care about any of them. So for most of the movie, I was busy admiring the gorgeous costume design, especially all Hepburn’s dressed designed by Adrian.

PhiladelphiaStoryCostume

Hepburn had such a svelte figure that everything looked good on her, I especially love the Grecian dress she wore when she was dancing with Stewart by the pool. The transparent silk organza dress with string tie belt she wore in the finale [see above, bottom left] is my favorite as it looks ethereal and elegant, and it fits Hepburn so beautifully.

The chemistry between her and her male co-stars are ok, I think she seems most comfortable with Grant which is perhaps why they often do a film together. What I do enjoy more than the romance is the scenes of Grant and Stewart together. They seem to have a good rapport as they play off each other well. Just seeing these two biggest classic male superstars together is amusing enough, but the two have quite different styles of acting which made it even more fun to watch.

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The scene where Stewart got the hiccups as he was drunk is pretty hilarious. I could tell Grant was amused and at times he looked like he was about to burst out laughing. As it turns out, the hiccup was improvised and Stewart didn’t tell Grant ahead of time, hence Grant’s natural amused reaction. LOVE it!

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The supporting cast is pretty good, I thought Virginia Weidler is so darn cute as Tracy’s smart-alecky teenage sister and Ruth Hussey as the sardonic photographer who’s not-so-secretly in love with Stewart’s character.

SPOILER ALERT! [I figure I might not be the only one who hasn’t seen this] Now the movie ends in happy ending of course. And the trouble with seeing tons of still photos of the wedding scene before I finally saw it, I kind of know how it’d end so there’s no surprise there. Still it was pretty sweet, I think that’s probably the only dramatic moment in the entire film as the camera pans to both Grant and Hussey’s look of dismay as Stewart’s character proposed to Hepburn’s.

PhiladelphiaStory_Wedding

Final Thoughts: The high-society type comedies are pretty amusing to me and having three major movie stars certainly didn’t hurt, but for some reason I just wasn’t wowed by it. I know I’m in the minority as seems like everyone else LOVED this movie. I wish I loved it more but hey, it is what it is. That said, I’m glad I finally saw it and I’m still curious to see more work from all three actors. This movie is apparently based on a Broadway production and I think this story might actually work better on stage. I just saw Noël Coward’s 1930s comedy of manners Private Lives starring Toby Stephens & Anna Chancellor, I’d imagine the battle of the sexes with all the witty repartee would be similar to that. So overall the movie an enjoyable farce, but not exactly a comedic masterpiece it’s made out to be.

3.5 reels


BlindSpotSeriesSidebarCheck out my previous 2014 Blind Spot reviews


So have you seen The Philadelphia Story? I’m curious to hear what you think!

My Movie Confessions – My Film Views Blog-a-thon

Nostra at My Film Views is at it again with yet another fun blog-a-thon. This time we’re talking about *movie sins* that we all have committed but has been reluctant to admit… that is until now 😀

All I had to do is answer these questions below, so let’s get on it shall we?

Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?

This is easy. Spartacus! For a long time I had been curious to check it out as it was supposedly made because Kirk Douglas had wanted to star in Ben-Hur, so this is supposedly his way of ‘I’ll show them’ kind of reaction to William Wyler (per IMDb trivia).

Well sorry but I don’t think this film even came close to the masterpiece that was Ben-Hur in so many levels. Mainly I just don’t buy Douglas in the role of a slave who leads a revolt against Rome, and I found the whole thing to be so darn boring, and that’s something coming from a big fan of swords & sandals genre!

Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?

There are sooo many but these ten represent those I REALLY want to see fairly soon [in alphabetical order]:

  1. An Affair to Remember
  2. Cat On A Hot Tinroof
  3. Citizen Kane
  4. It Happened One Night
  5. Lawrence of Arabia
  6. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  7. On The Waterfront
  8. Singin’ in the Rain
  9. Some Like It Hot
  10. The Apartment

Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?

No, I just don’t have the energy to see two movies back to back even if I wanted to.

Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?

This is an easy one also, and I wholeheartedly agree with Novia’s picks of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, especially the latter. In fact, I’m so bored with him that I haven’t seen any movie starring Pitt in quite a while now, I think the last one I saw was Spy Game which my friend lent me. I just don’t find him attractive at all or even THAT talented, and I’m so sick of seeing him being put up on such a pedestal by the the media and bloggers alike.

As for the actress, well if you’ve read my Breaking Dawn and Snow White and the Huntsman reviews, obviously it’s Kristen Stewart! I’m absolutely baffled as to why she’s in so high demand, I mean the girl only has about two facial expressions, either nervous or despondent, that’s pretty much it! [shrugs]

From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?
I’m embarrassed to say that have not seen any work by Ingmar Bergman nor Akiro Kurosawa. Not sure why really, just haven’t got around to any of them. Any suggestions?

Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?
Ahah, well my friend Ted and I made a post of a dozen movies we secretly adore. But out of the recent ones, I guess it’d be John Carter. I don’t LOVE it enough to buy the Blu-ray but I gave it a 4/5 and as I’ve said in my review, it’s unfairly judged because of its terrible marketing, but it’s actually quite entertaining.

Have you ever been “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?
Not really. I always turn off my cell phone just before the trailers starts, nor do I kick the chair in front of me, etc. I mean it’s just basic courtesy stuff. I’m surprised how many people don’t seem to know or practice them though.

Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because of a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?

Oh yes. I think we all have certain actors we adore that would make even bad movies watchable. One such movie was Beautician & The Beast which I rented solely because Timothy Dalton stars in it, even with that hideous mustache and silly premise, the movie ends up being quite fun. Yes, I could even endure Fran Drescher’s voice if you can believe that! No, I did NOT buy the movie. Hey, even I’ve got standards, ahah.

Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?
Nope. I came from Indonesia where most Hollywood movies have subtitles, so I’m used to that. In fact, I much prefer that over dubbed movies, now those I absolutely refuse to watch.

Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?
Hmmm, I actually do have quite a few. I’ve started collecting Blu-ray discs now so a lot of my DVDs have not been watched in a while. In fact, I haven’t even watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that I bought at a used bookstore over five years ago!

Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?
Well that’s what guilty pleasures are all about, right? I have a couple Gerard Butler that fit into such categories: Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life and Attila the Hun, both are a must for any GB fans 😉

Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?
Well, my hubby actually does all of the set-up in our entertainment room in our basement, I’m quite technically-challenged in that department, ahah. We had the wiring done for surround speakers when we built the home and Ivan set it up in such a way that those unsightly cables aren’t visible. I don’t have a TV on the upper level though, so that’s why I hardly ever watch stuff unless I specifically make my way downstairs. Some of you might find this weird, but I generally don’t like watching full-length movies on my laptop. I prefer to settle nicely into my sofa when I’m watching something 🙂

Any other confessions you want to make?
Not really, I think I’ve made some embarrassing confessions already, ahah. Well, ok so just one more. I think I’ve watched less movies now that I’ve started blogging, but the upside is that I appreciate them all the more.


Well that’s it. So what are some of YOUR movie confessions? Come on, fess up 😀