Sunday, January 17, 2021

On This Day...The Philadelphia Story (1941)

The Philadelphia Story was released on this day, in 1941, and was Cary Grant's 38th full length film.

It was the last film of four in which he starred with Katharine Hepburn, and the film that won James Stewart the Oscar for Best Actor.


Just as Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is about to remarry, her first husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) arrives at her house. He has with him a tabloid reporter and a photographer, Macaulay 'Mike" Connor (James Stewart) and Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey), and he's clearly intent on causing mischief. 

Tracy is surprised to learn that Mike is a serious writer who works for the tabloids only to earn a paycheck. They are clearly attracted to one another and the arrival of Tracy's ne'er-do-well father - and some rather stern comments on his part - leads to her to reevaluate her choices and what it is she wants for the future.


 Cary Grant ... C. K. Dexter Haven
 Katharine Hepburn ... Tracy Lord
 James Stewart ... Macaulay Connor
 Ruth Hussey ... Elizabeth Imbrie
 John Howard ... George Kittredge
 Roland Young ... Uncle Willie
 John Halliday ... Seth Lord
 Mary Nash ... Margaret Lord
 Virginia Weidler ... Dinah Lord
 Henry Daniell ... Sidney Kidd
 Lionel Pape ... Edward
 Rex Evans ... Thomas

"Grant is perfectly gracious to a thankless part, winning sympathy and belief."
- Otis Ferguson, The New Republic.

"Perhaps the highest honors in the picture really go to James Stewart for his souse scene in Cary Grant's library (see picture below). Mr. Grant is good as always, and deserves credit for playing subdued."
- Don Herold, Scribner's Commentator.

Did You Know?

The film was shot in eight weeks, and required no retakes. During the scene where James Stewart hiccups when drunk, you can see Cary Grant looking down and grinning. Since the hiccup wasn't scripted, Grant was on the verge of breaking out laughing and had to compose himself quickly. Stewart (apparently spontaneously) thought of hiccuping in the drunk scene, without telling Grant. When he began hiccuping, Grant turned to Stewart, saying, "Excuse me." The scene required only one take.

Katharine Hepburn starred in the Broadway production of the play on which this film was based and owned the film rights to the material; they were purchased for her by billionaire Howard Hughes, then given to her as a gift.

Cary Grant only agreed to appear in the film as long as he got top billing. As Katharine Hepburn was dubbed "box office poison" at the time, this demand was readily agreed to.

Katharine Hepburn asked MGM to cast Clark Gable as Dexter and Spencer Tracy as Mike before she met either of them. Both Gable and Tracy were busy with other projects, so James Stewart was cast instead. MGM chief Louis B. Mayer allowed Hepburn a $150,000 salary towards casting the other male role. Cary Grant agreed to do the role for $137,000.

In order to avoid competition with the stage play, MGM agreed not to put the film into general release until January 1941, although it was screened at selected theaters in December 1940.

And you did know...

The film was remade as the Cole Porter musical High Society (1956), starring Grace Kelly in Katharine Hepburn's role, Frank Sinatra in James Stewart's and Bing Crosby playing Dexter (Cary Grant).


C. K. Dexter Haven: You'll never be a first-class human being or a first-class woman until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty.


C. K. Dexter Haven: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should've stuck to me longer.
Tracy Lord: I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Aaah, that's the old redhead. No bitterness, no recrimination, just a good swift left to the jaw.


C. K. Dexter Haven: I'm sorry, but I thought I better hit you before he did. He's in better shape than I am.
Macaulay Connor: Well you'll do!

Lobby Cards:

(Japanese Poster)

Directed by George Cukor.
Produced and Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Running time: 112 minutes.

With George Cukor, John Howard and Katharine Hepburn.

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