‘THE PHILADELPHIA STORY’: A ROMCOM WITH THREE SCREEN LEGENDS

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Brimming with wit and three impressive screen legends, The Philadelphia Story is a romantic-comedy of errors that I am sure is inspiration for some of the romcoms we grew up on.

The Philadelphia Story (1941) Film Review

Two years ago, Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn) threw out her husband. The pair grew up together, but marriage didn’t take for either of them, and this separation and divorce is needed. Tabloid gossip abounds, but now Tracy is about to say ‘I do’ again and this time it’s to the sensible George Kittredge (John Howard). What she doesn’t know is, her ex, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) is about to walk back into her life.

Protecting a secret about the Lord family, Dexter cuts a deal with the gossip magazine magnet. He’ll get full wedding access for two of the magazine’s people in exchange for keeping this out of the press. This brings Dexter, the intrepid writer Macaulay ‘Mike’ Connor (James Stewart) and photographer, Liz (Ruth Hussey), to Tracy’s door, which sets into motion a series of unexpected events.

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This film, according to trivia, is a favorite of film stars and is on some of those “prestigious” critic lists of films people must see. It’s also a film I would have seen years (upon years) ago. As I was scrolling for films from Alfred Hitchcock (which we all know I’ve been watching many of), I ran across this one on a streaming platform, and remembering I’d seen it, I thought a re-watch was overdue.

Turns out The Philadelphia Story is just as funny as I remember. It’s supremely entertaining and also has wit, which many comedies today lack. The film is fun and feisty albeit not without its flaws. If you don’t like the whole dating-someone-else-while-falling-in-love-with-another, then this is also a film you’ll wish to stay away from. In many respects, I’m quite confident that this inspires many of the romcoms I grew up on, but most notably, perhaps Sweet Home Alabama, with some of the similarities. The little sister character of Dina is also a hilarious addition to the script and great fun, sort of like Margaret Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility.

Just as fun the second time through as the first, this is a classic for a reason, even if just for the fact that it pairs three of the era’s greatest stars, all of whom had or went on to have many a box office hit under their belt. Plus, the film just made me giggle in all the right ways, and that, most of the time, is all I require.

You can stream The Philadelphia Story on Tubi, at publication; or rent with places like Apple TV.

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‘THE PHILADELPHIA STORY’: A ROMCOM WITH THREE SCREEN LEGENDS. Review of the 1941 James Stewart  and Cary Grant romcom. All text © Rissi JC

Content Note: there is some innuendo and suggestion that Tracy spends the night with someone (she doesn’t). There is some kissing and suggestive remark here or there, but it’s minor. Conversation revolves around men having affairs and it being ok. The Philadelphia Story is TV-14 on Tubi.

Photos: MGM

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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