Tuesday, May 11, 2010

'The Philadelphia Story' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. Oh, yeah -- and the clothes are fabulous! :)

  2. I am so looking forward to this!

  3. (Well, in the interest of full disclosure... I don't think there is anything to trigger a Boobquake in this show.)

  4. Looking forward to it all the more so, absence of Kettlebells or people who are huge fans of same notwithstanding.

  5. Oh, that Darrell! (He had to go for it, of course -- the set-up was too perfect.)

  6. Well, what a fun show! I really enjoyed Cary Grant. He was surprisingly well restrained with that plug George Kettredge, and so personable and affable with everyone, particularly the house staff. And Jimmy Stewart was solid as a street wise common man who holds high society and gossip magazines in equal contempt. But it was Katherine Hepburn that was the jewel of the show. What an impressive young actress! So very bright and real. Grant could keep up and Stewart wasn't far behind, but Howard as Kettredge was absolutely wooden, and though some of that was by intent, a great big part of it was just her being that much better as an actress.

    I loved the theme that Hepburn's character was bringing home, that snobbery was not confined to the upper class, and that upper class people can be human and caring and real - that class differences did not preclude good and poor behavior.

    I have more thoughts, but I have to run for now. I am interested to hear what you thought, and I have a couple of questions about it. ; )

  7. There are some elements of this movie that I've always enjoyed, but appreciate more as I understand how rare they are -- the dialogue, whether the characters are taking each other apart or learning to value each other; the little throw-away lines that make you laugh but also clear up any uncertainty about the double-dealing among the characters; the look of it, those glorious settings, and lingering shots of beautiful faces and love-lit eyes; Dinah and her dreams and her pony-cart; pretty much everything about Uncle Willie.

    I watch this movie, oh, probably every ten years or so, since college, I think. I remember the first time I saw it -- I was rejoicing in everyone's preconceived notions of each other based on "class" being knocked to pieces, and delighted that, due to all sorts of romantic confusion, the wedding to The Wrong Guy gets called off, and The Right Guy (and of course, we knew he was the right guy, because he was Cary Grant) gets back together with The Girl. And The Other Girl gets The Almost Right Guy, so everything works out. And I couldn't imagine anything more romantic than Jimmy Stewart's adoration of his goddess, not of silver moon-like purity and distance, but of life and light and passion.

    But as I watched it again and again, more and more of what had gone over my head initially started to sink in. I was outraged that a man who believed he knew a woman well enough to plan to spend his life with her -- and clearly, George was the type who thought things through -- could believe, instantly, that she had been unfaithful to him. And that note -- vile.

    I was older when I saw that Tracy had done to her father -- condemn him as wicked for having been foolish -- what the wretched George does to her. And when I really understood what her father meant about it being impossible to be a decent person if you take it upon yourself to judge as unforgivable other people's failings.

    And when I recognized that Dexter's drinking had not been immature over-partying, but a serious problem that was never addressed during their marriage, because they locked themselves into a vicious cycle of her contempt and his self-loathing, and all the useless anger that went along with it.

    And when I realized that, perhaps, the reason George had leaped to such a conclusion about Tracy and Macauly had to do with the extreme fiction he was determined to hold her to, and any tumble from that pedestal he had her on would be equally extreme. And that she had been open to the same conclusion because she has no faith in herself, she had mastered reserve because she feared her own passions, and she is afraid that any slip could be a plunge to the depths.

    And when I "got" that there couldn't be anything more romantic than that five-minute engagement at the end. Dexter truly loves the real Tracy -- not a goddess of any sort, but a real woman made up of all those elements that others had wanted to build their fictions around; a real, imperfect, human being, determined to do better and forgive more, and who was finally "grown up" enough to really be a wife.

    So it truly is one of my favorites, one of the movies I've "grown up with".

  8. Well, Cathy, that's excellent, and clearly I am a tad out of my depth after a single late night go round with The Philadelphia Story, but perhaps you could give me your thoughts on a couple of items. How could she ever be serious about that felled tree Kettredge? He was handsome? He was not of her high class society? He was a social climber looking for an advantageous marriage in my view, about as appealing as Blanch Ingram.

    And I'm sure I seem a tad dense on this one, but why was her premarital star crossed ... swim (?) ... with Macauley the key to her figuring out what she really wanted? I would venture to say that he helped her look at herself and challenged some of her notions, but it all came together so smoothly that I was a bit at a loss as to how that came to be.

    But yes, the dialogue was very, very good. Smart and fast, and delivered extremely well, especially by Ms. Hepburn.

    There was this fun exchange between publisher Kidd and writer Connor:

    K: "You really hate me, don't you Connor?"

    C: "Oh no!"


    C: "I don't like you very much though."

    The way Jimmy Stewart delivered it, it was just funny!

    And a classic of the movie:

    "The time to make up your mind about people is never."

    But my favorite:

    T: "Oh Dexter you're not doing it just to soften the blow?"

    D: "No."

    T: "Nor to save my face?"

    D: "Oh, it's a nice little face."

    T: "Oh Dexter, I'll be yar now, I promise to be yar."

    D: "Be whatever you like, you're my redhead."


  9. Well, the movie was a popcorn munching delight that the whole family can find entertainment in. It's the kind of show you just wish people would... thus ends this cover story to hide from the comment roster.

    Cath, they're going a little nutty over the whole "boycott Los Angeles" idea. Do you think they realize that it was a comical attempt to needle the LA city council? That there really isn't a lot of provable damage to LA that What the...?! can inflict, except to the pride of those dribbling fools at the city council? Holy smokes!

  10. I watch this movie, oh, probably every ten years or so, since college, I think. So it truly is one of my favorites, one of the movies I've "grown up with".

    So, I've been working up my answers to your questions about the movie, and what have you been up to?!?!? Are these folks you've ever heard from before? I think you may have inspired a whole new blog (Chris, at

    I was afraid something like this would happen some day -- you just don't know your own strength! ;)

  11. That "felled tree Kettredge" -- wonderful!

    I think she had romanticized him -- that already important "man-of-the-people", who started with nothing, etc., etc., -- as much as he had idealized her. And, because it's my theory that she didn't trust herself unless she kept very tight control, I think she sensed that his rigid-ness (?) would serve to keep her safely in-bounds.

    It's clear from the scene at the stable (when she tackles him and dirties up the newness of his riding togs) that her playfulness and George's propriety are a poor match, especially as he is seen to be unyielding in later scenes (she's pretty lubricated at the dance, having broken her rule for herself about drinking, but his determination to get her away from the party reflects more than his concern that she get some rest before the wedding.)

    She starts to realize that something's wrong when George insists that she's like a goddess, and she can't explain that she just wants to be loved as a woman. And when she says she wants to do something, make a difference, and he actually laughs, taken aback at the idea that she would ever be anything other than the goddess on the pedestal.

    Yet, at almost the same time, she's getting both barrels about how offensive, and isolating, her judgmentalism is, from her father and Dexter -- two loves she has cut herself off from.

    So when Macauly pours out his tipsy tribute about her banked fires and being lit from within, his vision of her is a more than welcome alternative to the dark mirror she's been facing all day.

    The after-party swim, an impulse born of too much to drink, and the confusion and dismay she's struggling with, is a catalyst for all the characters to reveal their true opinions of her -- including Tracy herself.

    In the morning, her apology to Dexter shows us where her heart still is, even though it is George she believes she has betrayed. She wants to do the right thing by George -- she has already condemned herself, and wants to give him his chance to end things. But it is his note, his formal demand that she explain herself, his haste to condemn her, that convince her that she cannot marry him.

    But I don't think it ever occurs to her to wonder whether there could be a chance to make things right with Dexter. She is not trading up from George to Dexter -- she is trading a poor match for having to stand on her own.

  12. "The time to make up your mind about people is never."

    I'm so glad you liked that one.

  13. I liked the whole thing, Cath. I liked the whole thing.

    Great pick.

  14. The whole thing with the note..."Admit you were wrong, ask for my forgiveness, and I still see an upside to this whole marriage idea."

    Please. Spare me your cautious calculations.

    And the scene at the pool. Every woman should be required to watch that scene as a public service as to what it is you don't want in a mate. I understand men are markedly different than women and that we don't think along the same lines, but the fun of it for a true gentleman is to bridge the gap, to listen patiently, and appreciate the fact that she is talking to you at all. That is one of those things we as men should strive to master. It's a discipline and a good thing, which ends up making our lives decidedly better.

  15. bridge the gap, to listen patiently, and appreciate the fact that she is talking to you at all.
    Of course, it's best when it works both ways.

  16. "Of course, it's best when it works both ways."

    Yes, it is.

  17. Hey, Nick,
    Do you still want to do Walk the Line for the next show? Or has something else come to mind?

    Personally, I've got to do something musical, in like the next 10 minutes. I cannot keep singing the few bits I remember of "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady" over and over.

  18. It's a good story. How does the young J.R. ever come to be the Johnny Cash of legendary fame? How did the man who wore black, who was largely lost through much of his young life, who never could get past the fact that his father never seemed to place any value on him, or even to like him, how did he come to find what it was he was looking for?


    Yes, I'd love for us to do Walk The Line!

  19. Wow...I can see you needed help.

    Give Walk the Line a whirl. You'll recover.

    My guess is you'll either come away humming Tyler Hilton's version of "That's All Right" or "Milk Cow Blues", or you'll be heading down to "Jackson" with Johnny and June.