Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Philadelphia Story VS High Society

Hmmm, she's dead. Shame.
"All this time, we could've been friends!" 
In the surprise ending to Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) realizes that all the time she was tormenting her sister, it was for the wrong reason, and they could've been friends.

I finished watching Whatever happened To Baby Jane? last night and found myself watching it gripped with morbid fascination! I also realized about halfway through that I was rooting for Baby Jane (Bette Davis) to kill Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) rather that wanting her to escape! I loved how Bette sung "I've Written A Letter To Daddy".
"I've written a letter to Daddy. His address is heaven above!"
I admire the fact that if there was a note she couldn't hit, she just shrieked and hoped for the best.
"You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good!"~ Bette Davis
The DVD came with the documentary All About Bette which me and my Mum watched this morning which was really good, and hosted by Jodie Foster. But today I'm going to compare The Philadelphia Story and High Society, both based of the same play, the latter was made 16 years later.

High Society

The epitome of the rich society girl, Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) has been divorced to the successful jazz musician Dexter Haven (the seedy Bing Crosby) for a few years. She is about to re-marry when Dexter arrives with his jazz gang and tries to win her back. Meanwhile the gossipy magazine "Spy" has planted a reporter (Frank Sinatra) and photographer (Celeste Holm, grrrrrr) to cover Tracy's wedding. The family has agreed to this so that the magazine will not publish a distasteful article about Tracy's estranged father and a chorus girl. She ends up falling for not only the reporter, but Dexter too.

Well... did you evah?
The highlights of the film are the fact that the leader of Bing's band is Louis Armstrong, and the fantastic music that was written by Cole Porter. Grace Kelly gives a surprisingly unemotional performance. It may be unknown to you that I can't stand Bing Crosby. Well I can't. He is seedy and dodgy, and completely unbelievable as Dexter. Plus, he looks old enough to be Grace's father. But despite all of that negativity, this film did get me to sleep on insomniac nights until I was 9.

Now for the good bit.

the Philadelphia Story

The rich and intelligent (note the change in description) socialite, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is about to marry the also rich George Kipperidge. But when her ex-husband, Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) turns up with a reporter (James Stewart *swoon*) and a photographer (Ruth Hussey, whoever she may be). She decides to go on with the marriage even though the presence of her ex-husband distracts her. After a bit too much champagne at a party the night before her wedding, she has a brief romance (lasting only about 2 hours) with the reporter. The next day, her fiancée sends her a not saying that her behaviour was unacceptable for a wife-to-be and that he would like to call it a day. As it has been obvious from the beginning that she would get back together with Dexter (who wouldn't want to go back with Cary Grant? But then again, who would want to leave Jimmy Stewart?) and they marry.

The Review:
I loved this film for all of its rich and emotional thought, and I think that Katharine Hepburn's portrayal was very sweet and understanding. The direction from George Cukor is great. Did you know that Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins were both in his repertory company before they all shot to stardom? James Stewart looks about 12 in it! The performances generally work extremely well, and I am always finding it hard to work out whether I want her to go with James Stewart or Cary Grant!


Preferred Film:
The Philadelphia Story definitely because I prefer the story without constant sing-song, and the direction is better in this.

Preferred Portrayals:
Tracy Lord: Katharine Hepburn
Dexter Haven: Cary Grant by miles
Elizabeth Imbrie (photographer): Celest Holm (as much as it pains me to say it) tied with Ruth Hussey
Macaulay Connor (reporter): Jimmy Stewart. Please don't feel rejected Fankie, it was a pretty close call.


Which do you prefer?

P.S. I found a gorgeous little vintagey 40sish shop in town today, and fell in love with a blue and cream stripy nipped-in-at-the-waist dress which was, as my mum stated about several items in the shop "sooooooo Bette Davis!", a pair of brown jodhpury trousers like the ones she wears in The Great Lie, and a little purse that looked like an old envelope. There are no pictures of these because, being typical me, I forgot the name of the shop. Watch this space!

P.P.S. Today is the 60th anniversary of All About Eve (my favourite film evah) being released.

Bill’s thirty-two. He looks thirty-two. He looked it five years ago, he’ll look it twenty years from now. I hate men.
Margo Channing (All About Eve)


Libby said...

KathArine. Sorry. This is my funny moment. My middle name is 'Katherine', chosen by big brother. But originally it was going to be 'KathArine'. Like Katherine Hepburn, because my mum loves her.
Which Grace Kelly film would you recommend?

Bette said...

I would recommend To Catch A Theif. It is really good and a Hithcock. That is so cool that you are named after Katherine Hepburn.


Anonymous said...

no way you are 12.

Bette said...

GAH!!! IT'S KATHARINE!!! WHAT CRAZY 12 YEAR OLD MADE THIS REPEATED ERROR??!!! Oops, that was me a year ago... Sorry all!


Anonymous said...

Wow, another person who dislikes Bing Crosby as much as I do. High Society is, in my opinion, one of those movies that should never have been made. Why mess with perfection? The songs were dull and replacing the role that Cary Grant made his own with Bing Crosby? Sacrilege! I would have gone with someone handsome, likable and charming like Gene Kelly for the role but even then it wouldn't have been Cary Grant. Awesome comparison!

Anonymous said...

I prefer The Philadelphia story to High Society. I love James Stewart and Celest Holm's performances. As for the role of Tracy Lord, I think Grace Kelly had done her role better than Katharine Hepburn.

Lloyd Lou said...

I agree Phil. Story is better in almost every way. But when I was growing up my older sister had this 45 rpm record from the High Society sound track. It was Bing singing "True Love" And the flip side was "Did You Evah?". I guess it was on the charts back then. I just loved that song "True Love" long before I ever saw the movie. To this day I am moved by just hearing the intro. to it. I used to sing it with my brother and try to emulate the harmony. And fine lyrics. "Feeling far above par....Oh how lucky we are"

Thanks for the post...very well done....nobody I know remembers these two movies in spite of the all star casts.

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