The Philadelphia Story (1940) Movie Review

This 1940 film, directed by award winning George Cukor, is a perfect blend of comedy, romance and truth. The movie was wonderfully cast with the legendary actress Katharine Hepburn alongside of then devilishly handsome Cary Grant. Along with the suave Jimmy Stewart. These actors mixed with the talents of George Cukor, combined with the beautiful writing of Donald Stewart is a recipe for a masterpiece.

The film starts off with a violent end to a short marriage between Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Heaven, characters played by Hepburn and Grant. It jumps ahead two years with the lead Hepburn remarrying a lower class worker. When unexpectedly the reluctant ex-husband shows up 24 hours before the wedding with ulterior motives. Haven brings along two news reporters disguised as friends of the family to cover the wedding. Jimmy Stewart’s character, Macaulay ‘Mike’ Connor and Ruth Hussy’s character Elizabeth Imbrie, are introduced at this point. Tracy immediately knows the shenanigans that is developing within the house. But once Haven reveals to Tracy some blackmail against her father, she has no other choice but to go along with the hideous scheme.

The plot thickens when it’s time to leave for the engagement party and everyone is in some sort of lie. People aren’t who they say that are, copious amounts of alcohol are being consumed and there is an aroma of adultery in the air. Until this point, the plot is going nice and steady, and no one is truly getting hurt. It’s not until the end of the party where virtually everyone is intoxicated, when the plot goes crazy and morals are tested to the extreme.

The dialogue in this film is nothing short of spectacular. There is a perfect amount of humor, irony and quick wit within everyone’s lines. It’s a true pleasure to watch. In addition to the wonderful cast being hilarious together, the dialogue compliments everyone amazingly. Even the minor characters have magnificent dialogue. There is never a dull moment in this film.

The atmosphere in the main scenes is beautiful and it flows so smoothly with the soundtrack. The music in this film is to die for. A full round of applause goes to Franz Waxman for the lovely music in this masterpiece. There is a flawless theme in this movie and it deals with the characters love interests and the truth they are trying to ignore. In my opinion, it’s the incredible layout of the story that grants it with the honour of being on the AFI’s Top 100 American Movies of All Time list.

Lastly, I want to point out the set direction and lighting. Honestly, it is perfect. The way the lights hit each character is beautiful. The angle literally makes them look like they’re glowing. It creates the perfect setting of emotion that takes place in each specific scene. The lighting and the set direction is my favourite part of the film.

No wonder screen writer Donald Stewart won an Oscar for Best Screen Writer in 1940 and with Jimmy Stewart winning Best Actor in a Leading Role. Other nominations include Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress, Ruth Hussy for Best Supporting Actress and George Cukor for Best Director. This movie supersedes virtually any other movie ever made, but this is just my opinion. But it’s a pretty great film and I would 200% recommend this film for anyone looking for a true movie about life.


–          From me to you, I’m Carlie Wright; have a great movie experience.