The Philadelphia Story

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Just when Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn), a snooty upper class divorcee, thinks she has left her past behind her and can move on in life, she is revisited by her ex husband who plans to ruin all the plans she’s made. Two years earlier, Tracy was married to C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), who was less than what she wanted, so she kicked him out in an effort to improve herself. As such, she is now preparing to marry someone she feels is upper crust enough for her, and everything seems in order until Dexter shows up, with a tabloid reporter by his side. The two arrive the day before Tracy is to be married, which gives her little time to deal with the situation. In addition to Dexter’s plans to spoil the event, the reporter (James Stewart) has a distaste for the filthy rich, so you know he’s going to try to find some dirt. Dexter’s attempts to humble Tracy have mixed results, and things might take an unexpected turn, creating a romance out of thin air.

This is a well liked and respected film in many ways, earning several Oscars in its day as well as a place on the AFI 100, but to be honest, the film seems lost on me. I can see why the film works so well for others, with the biting dialogue and great performances, but for some reason, the movie never clicks inside my head. I have an appreciation for classic film, so it’s not the film’s age, but an elements seems to be missing that would make it work for me. I did enjoy seeing the movie again, but I can’t see myself watching it again. The only reason I viewed the film a second time was for this review, if that tells you anything. As I said though, I can see why others like the film, as the acting and writing is quite good. One aspect of the film I do like is the mean spirited nature of the movie, which seems to be a quality lacking in films from this time period, so I can find that to like here. I recommend this movie to fans of classic cinema, as well as movie buffs of all types. The disc is an average lot, but if you need to add this movie to your collection, this disc is good enough for your needs.

This film was directed by George Cukor, who despite his unusual name, made some wonderful films during his career behind the camera. His resume is extensive and impressive, but make sure to check out some of his better works. I recommend Adam’s Rib, Born Yesterday, My Fair Lady, and Camille. This film boasts an excellent cast, filled with skilled actors who turn in fine performances. Katharine Hepburn and James “Jimmy” Stewart take the show here, with some wonderful scenes together, as well as overall fine performances. Hepburn (Adam’s Rib, The African Queen) is a fiery broad in this film, and her dialogue really steals the scenes for her, and she plays off her costars very well. Stewart (It’s A Wonderful Life, Bell Book & Candle) won his Oscar for this role, but I feel his work here is below his usual standard. Also in a major role is Cary Grant (North by Northwest, Charade), who turns in a delightful performance. The supporting cast includes Ruth Hussey (Madame X, Hold That Kiss), Roland Young (Tales of Manhattan), and Virginia Weidler (Babes on Broadway).

Video: How does it look?

The Philadelphia Story is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio. This is an average transfer, not that bad, but in turn not that good. The print looks clean and free from defects, and the transfer is void of compression errors as well. Since this is a black and white film, contrast is the vital piece of the visual puzzle. While the image is sharp, it just doesn’t look as good as some other black and white films I’ve seen of late. For fans of the film though, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release uses the original mono track for audio, which gives a decent, if limited overall experience. Since this isn’t really an audio driven film, you won’t miss the surrounds much, but some scenes could have been better with some more punch from the speakers. The music sounds a little distorted, but usually quite good. The dialogue comes across well, which is good, since it’s the focus of the movie and all. Given the age of the film, this release sounds more than adequate.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release includes the theatrical trailer for the film.

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