44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

I love a good black and white, 20th century romantic comedy. I especially love it when that black and white, 20th century romantic comedy stars Jimmy Stewart. Lucky for me, The Philadelphia Story is exactly that. 

Directed by George Cukor, The Philadelphia Story stars Katharine Hepburn as socialite Tracy Lord, Cary Grant as her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, and James Stewart as reporter Macauley Connor. Written by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the play by Philip Barry, The Philadelphia Story would later be adapted into the musical High Society (1956). Honestly, I prefer the former over the latter. The chemistry between the three leads is undeniable, particularly the chemistry between Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, which makes it all the more baffling to me that she chooses Cary Grant’s character in the end. Personally, I would have chosen Stewart. 

I mean, you can feel the onscreen chemistry of these two just from this photo. 

Stewart’s performance in this film was fantastic. However, I do think the Academy Award that he earned for this film was a retroactive award for his performance in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Katharine Hepburn’s performance in this film may be her absolute best. 

I want to give a special shout out to Virginia Weidler who played Tracy’s younger sister, Dinah Lord. She gives such a solid comedic performance. My only wish was that she was featured more. 

Virginia Weidler as Dinah Lord (With images) | The philadelphia ...
I love her.

The Philadelphia Story is a wonderful film. But, should it remain on the AFI list? I think so. But, only on the condition that Bringing Up Baby from 1938 is removed. The Philadelphia Story is by far the superior Hepburn/Grant film and that is a hill I will die on. 

One last note, “You’re lit from within” is one of the best lines I’ve ever heard uttered on the silver screen and perfectly delivered by James Stewart. 

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