ClassicFlix (Teen Scene) – Review #20: Little Women (1933)

From March 2015 to April 2017, I was writing the monthly Teen Scene column for the website ClassicFlix. My objective was to promote classic films among teenagers and young adults. Due to the establishing of a new version of the website, it’s now more difficult to access to the old version and read the reviews. But, I’m allowed to publish my reviews on my blog 30 days after they had been published on ClassicFlix! So, I decided to do so as you could have an easy access to them. If you are not a teenager, it doesn’t matter! I’m sure you can enjoy them just the same! My twenty-first review was for the 1933s classic Little Women directed by George Cukor. Enjoy!

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Christmas is waiting impatiently at the door, which means hot chocolate, cookies and, of course, Christmas movies made to be watched with friends and family. The movies of this holiday season make us smile and put us in the holiday spirit. Many excellent Christmas films have been made through the ages, but my choice is George Cukor’s Little Women. It might not be the most “Chrismasy” of them all, but it represents the holiday perfectly by warming our hearts.

Little Women takes place in New England during the Civil War. It tells the times, the joys, the happiness, the friendship and the loves of the March sisters: Meg (Frances Dee): the eldest sibling and the refined one; Josephine or “Jo” (Katharine Hepburn): the tomboy whose dream is to be a celebrated writer; the timid Beth (Jean Parker): a sensible piano player; and the coquettish Amy (Joan Bennett): the youngest of them all and an artist. They live with their kind mother “Marmee” (Spring Byington) and manage to defy their solitude by being with each other. The film is mostly focused on Jo, who becomes good friends with their neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Douglass Montgomery).

This version of Little Women, released in 1933, was the third adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name after the silent versions of 1917 and 1918. Little Women was well received upon release, both financially and critically and was nominated at the 1934 Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, winning the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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This film was released at the perfect moment in 1933 since the United States was suffering from the Great Depression and movies like Gold Diggers of 1933 or Baby Face depicted this hard period of history in different ways. Little Women is also about a major event in the history of the USA, the American Civil War, but the film comforts its viewers. The story is full of life and makes us cry, yes, but, it also makes us smile. Little Women was made to lighten people’s hearts and gives them hope that life can be good though it’s simple. The four sisters are a delight to watch; they’re not just sisters, but also best friends. Just like people during the Great Depression the Marches aren’t rich, but they don’t need a big fortune to have a good time: friendship and family are enough for them.

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Little Women is a story about the power of generosity, first proved to us in the Christmas scene when the four girls decide to use the money Aunt March gives them as a gift to buy a present for their mother. When Christmas Day comes they decide to give their delicious breakfast as a present to a poor family who live in miserable conditions. Even though this is difficult, especially for poor Beth who salivates at the view of the popovers, they only feel better after their good actions. It’s a real life lesson for all of us.

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George Cukor does an amazing job transposing Louisa May Alcott’s characters to the screen, and their respective actors give them justice. There couldn’t be a better choice than Cukor to direct this cast. He was excellent at directing “ladies pictures” and gives them a vivid aura and strong personalities.

All the stars are excellent and deserve accolades. Katharine Hepburn stars her second film here and what a performance! Dynamic, touching, funny, the role is perfect for her. Blonde Joan Bennett proves her versatility as Amy March, a role different from the ones she later played in Fritz Lang’s films noir. Frances Dee is elegance itself as Meg March. Jean Parker is the most touching one of the lot as Beth. Spring Bryington, who plays Marmee, gives a wise performance, full of warmth. Douglass Montgomery as Laurie makes a perfect duo with Hepburn and his sense of humor is contagious. Paul Lukas makes an appearance late in the film, but his presence is much appreciated. Edna May Oliver, John Davis Lodge and Henry Stephenson have smaller roles, but they’re well chosen and remain as unforgettable as the rest.

Little Women is also much visually stunning due to the snowy landscapes and 19th-century New England architecture. Walter Plunkett’s costumes are also important to the film. (He did the costumes for Singin’ in the Rain and Gone With the Wind, another film set during the American Civil War.) For one of her dresses, Katharine Hepburn asked Plunkett to copy a dress her maternal grandmother was wearing in an old picture. Walter Plunkett also had to rapidly create a series of costumes that would hide Joan Bennett’s pregnancy at the time she was shooting.

The devotion and passion of the characters, especially Jo’s, makes you want to get up and accomplish something with your life. George Cukor’s classic is the perfect feel-good movie to watch during Christmas. It makes you realize that the most important thing during this holiday aren’t gifts, but your friends and your family. Masterpieces like Little Women are here to remind us of that.

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ClassicFlix (Teen Scene) – Review #10: The African Queen (1951)

From March 2015 to April 2017, I was writing the monthly Teen Scene column for the website ClassicFlix. My objective was to promote classic films among teenagers and young adults. Due to the establishing of a new version of the website, it’s now more difficult to access to the old version and read the reviews. But, I’m allowed to publish my reviews on my blog 30 days after they had been published on ClassicFlix! So, I decided to do so as you could have an easy access to them. If you are not a teenager, it doesn’t matter! I’m sure you can enjoy them just the same! My tenth review was for the 1951’s classic The African Queen directed by John Huston. Enjoy!

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For the Teen Scene column this month we’ll visit a new genre I haven’t written about yet: the adventure film. To represent the genre, I chose The African Queen. Based on the novel by C.S Forester, The African Queen was directed by John Huston in 1951 and is cited as one of the most thrilling and entertaining movies ever made. It has always been a favorite of mine and I’m sure it will become a favorite of yours, as well.

The African Queen takes place during the beginning of World War I. Katharine Hepburn plays Rose Sawyer, an English missionary living in Africa with her pastor brother, Samuel (Robert Morley), for the last ten years. One day, they receive Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) for tea, a Canadian boat captain and owner of The African Queen. Charlie also delivers the mail and packages in the village.

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Just before he goes back to his boat, Charlie informs Rose and Samuel that a war between England, Germany and some other countries is starting in Europe. Not a long time after he’s gone, German troops arrive in the village, burning houses and the church. After this sad episode, Samuel, who has been clearly traumatized, becomes strange, lesser and lesser himself. He ultimately dies from a fever one afternoon, leaving his poor sister alone.

The same day, Mr. Allnut is back to the village with The African Queen. When he learns what happened, he tells Rose to come with him: they have to abandon the village before the Germans decide to come back. So, they go away on The African Queen. Mr. Allnut informs Rose that The Louisa – a big German boat containing the biggest gun in central Africa – is patrolling the river to prevent the British counter attack.

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Rose has a big project: she wants to go make this boat explodes. Mr. Allnut tries to convince her it would be too dangerous, but her idea is already made. She has the final word and the adventure begins. However, that’s not without problems. They’ll have to face many physical obstacles and some quarrels due to their clashing personalities. Rose and Charlie don’t like really like each other first, but they’ll learn to.

The African Queen had a good reception upon release and won the Oscar for Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart). It was also nominated for Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Director (John Huston) and Best Screenplay (James Agee and John Huston).

Filmed in beautiful Technicolor, The African Queen grabs attention by being an American film that does take place in the USA, nor in an occidental city, but in the deep African jungle. And yes, a majority of this film was shot in Africa. (Actually, half was shot in Africa, and the other half in England.) For the African shoot, that wasn’t easy, considering the cast and crew were sick all the time except for John Huston and Humphrey Bogart, who didn’t catch malaria, apparently due to their consummation of Scotch.

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Shooting it on real location certainly makes it more authentic, similar to the film Mogambo (John Ford, 1953), also shot in Africa. Grace Kelly said she wouldn’t have been part of that film if it had shot in Arizona. When watching the film, it’s amusing to imagine how certain scenes might have been shot, how they manage to come to this excellent result despite the difficulties, etc.

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Another aspect that makes The African Queen worth watching is it becomes sort of a Guided tour between the characters and the audience, allowing us to see the nature of Africa: the flowers, trees, and numerous animals like crocodiles, antelopes, monkey, elephant, giraffes, hippopotamus, etc. All of this intrigue makes us curious to visit this hot continent.

I said The African Queen was an adventure movie, but another aspect enhances appreciation is its grouping of many other genres: romance, comedy, drama, etc., all expressed in small, but unforgettable moments. I’m thinking of Charlie Allnut’s character himself for the comedy. One particular moment that inspires laugher involves him imitating a hippopotamus. For the drama, when they are stuck in the mud and think this is the end and for the romance, well, you can imagine what can happen between a man and a woman sailing alone in an uncivilized place. It takes place in Africa, but it’s a Hollywood film after all! And it’s with pleasure that we assist in this romance, because it certainly is one of the most beautiful on-screen love stories.

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Humphrey Bogart won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Charlie Allnut and I always thought this was one of his best performances and a very well deserved award. What makes Humphrey Bogart so brilliant here is he illustrates his versatility. Seeing him in this film is indeed different from all his previous detective or gangster roles. In The African Queen, we see a comic and more “relaxed” Bogie. Katharine Hepburn’s performance is great too, but maybe less surprising, since we already know she can play every type of role.

 

Speaking of Katharine Hepburn, let’s look at her character, Rose Sawyer. The film’s concept of adventure is obviously embodied by her. Her evolution from serious English lady with good manners to adventurous woman is fascinating to see. Rose has passion for adventure, courage, and is never ready to give up. Katharine Hepburn, a strong actress with an anti-damsel spirit, is the perfect actress for this role and her performance is unforgettable.

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The African Queen contains many messages, but the main one is: never give up. The film indeed proves to us that miracles happen even in the most difficult of moments. The African Queen is a film that makes you feel strong and gives you the taste for adventure. (I mean, who wouldn’t like to feel as proud as Rose and Charlie?) The African Queen is a movie everybody can appreciate in need for a cinematographic boost.

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Remembering the Great Kate

“I’m a personality as well as an actress. Show me an actress who isn’t a personality, and you’ll show me a woman who isn’t a star.”
– Katharine Hepburn-
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Katharine Hepburn. The only thing that is not unique about her is this last name “Hepburn”. As for the rest, the lady was, and will always be one of a kind. Today, the one who was also called “The Great Kate” would have been 109. Unfortunately, Katharine left us in 2003 at the fair age of 96.
Even if she’s not with us anymore, that’s not a reason for us, her fans, not to honour her on this marvellous day. For the occasion, Margaret Perry is once again hosting The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Of course, it’s with joy that I’m participating to it again, as I had so much fun last year. You see, Katharine Hepburn is one of the most interesting subjects to talk about. For my contribution, I won’t write about a particular film of hers, but will simply honour her with a text explaining why she’s a favourite of mine.
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At first, Katharine Hepburn is generally known for having won no less than four Oscars (Morning Glory, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond), for her love affair with Howard Hughes (we are now all thinking about Scorsese’ The Aviator), for creating Hollywood’s most famous love story with Spencer Tracy (as well as starring in some movies with him), for her partnership with Cary Grant in four films and for often been under the direction of George Cuckor. But Katharine Hepburn, it’s much more than that. I can’t say I know a lot about her personal life, but what the lady simply transmits to us by her presence on screen is enough for us to have our attention kept and, if this one is (which will obviously be the case), to be more and more curious about her.
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Kate and Spencer. Love is beautiful.
I perfectly remember when I first saw a photo of Katharine Hepburn. Like most of my favourite movie stars, it was in this book called “Les stars de cinéma”. I was looking at the pictures of all those marvellous stars that I was about to discover with my mother. I remember, when we arrived at Kate’s pages, my mother said “Oh yes, Katharine Hepburn is a great actress”. It’s funny, because my mother hadn’t really seen any of her movies except On Golden Pond, but this only proves us that Katharine Hepburn has a great reputation, even among those who don’t know her very well. Of course, my mother has seen more Katharine Hepburn’s films now, thanks to me, and I think she’s a favourite of hers too now! I was very happy when, after watching Women of the Year for the second time together, she told me: “Yes, I pretty like Katharine Hepburn! She’s a great actress” 🙂 Or well, something like that.
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One of the pictures in the book. I have this one as a poster too!
Before I saw any of her films, Katharine Hepburn was always presented to me as “The greatest actress ever”. So, of course, I had to discover her. If my memory is good, the first Katharine Hepburn’s film I ever saw was Holiday (George Cukor, 1938). Of course, it has the right ingredients to be a very representative Katharine Hepburn’s film: It was directed by George Cukor and her male co-star was Cary Grant. I’ve only seen this film twice. First time I watched it, I liked it, but I liked it better the second time (which was very recently). There is some stuff that I could understand better after a few years. However, the thing magical with Katharine is that, even if the film isn’t really good, she’s always there to save it. I recently watched Pat and Mike and honestly didn’t really like it. I don’t say that it’s not a good film, but I found it somehow boring. It just didn’t grab my attention. Luckily, the best thing about this film was her beloved Kate. I wonder what it would have been without her. She has such a presence!
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With Cary Grant in Holiday.

This song is forever stuck in my head:

That “presence” stuff makes me think about why Katharine Hepburn is so admired. Everything she does on screen is so perfectly well-calculated, depending on her character, the story, the situation, etc. The way she talks, moves, look at the other character (I love the way she looks at Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby), etc. is always neat. That voice! That unique voice! Some people could find it annoying, but it’s part of her personality, we can’t take it away from her. I must admit I’ve tried to imitate it, but no one can do it better than Kate herself. It’s a voice we’ll recognize everywhere. I can perfectly hear her saying “Oh but I can’t, I have a lease.” while I’m writing those words.
Yes, Katharine Hepburn certainly put all the energy she had in her on-screen performances. Thanks to her, her characters are so vivid, so present. She’s like a filter for the whole movie. She never hesitates. She’s such a great actress that it makes us wonder how she was in real life. Certainly a great lady! But what I mean here, is, how can you stop acting when you’re so talented? It simply seems addictive. Ok, I guess that’s why certain actors are called talented. It’s because they themselves can make the difference between a film and reality. I’m not an actress!
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However, Katharine Hepburn doesn’t only amaze us by her acting. To satisfy us, the lady simply needs to “be”. Cary Grant once said “Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, even I want to be Cary Grant”. Well, Kate should have said that about herself too. Do I want to be Katharine Hepburn? DAMN YES! Even if Katharine Hepburn is my fifth favourite actress (but I consider her to be among the three most talented), she’s certainly one of those who inspire me the most. There’s so many things that Kate says in her films that I would like to say in everyday life. I must be frank with you, I’m impatiently waiting the occasion to say “Go on Baby, down the stairs!” Ok, I wonder when this will happen… I must admit that I often said to myself that I should try the “Susan Vance method” to grad a guy. 😉 Kate also makes me do weird things, but that’s part of the amusement: I’ve tried TWICE to do the egg trick from Woman of the Year (separate the white and the yellow with a strainer). I’ll tell you, IT DOESN’T WORK, but it’s really nice to do because you have the feeling you’re Kate (I’m so thankful that eggs exist). ❤ For a 15 second of glory, why not being Kate? 🙂
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But, overall, Kate is the perfect strong woman model . She can be admired alright, not only for her acting abilities, but also for what she transmits to us. From what I know of Kate’s life, I think she was a very independent woman and somehow a feminist model. Some marvellous things she said certainly prove my point:
” I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done; As long as I enjoyed it at the time.”
“[on marriage] It’s bloody impractical. “To love, honor, and obey”. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t have to sign a contract.”
“I find a woman’s point of view much grander and finer than a man’s.”
“Only when a woman decides not to have children, can a woman live like a man. That’s what I’ve done.”
She certainly knew how to talk and how to be clear!
It was known that the lady was mostly wearing trousers, making her a revolutionary fashion icon. But, even in her movies she was one. How can we forget all those hats she wears in her films. Kate certainly was a hat’s head! As for the clothes, everything always seems to suit her perfectly, even rags. I think Katharine Hepburn was often wearing a red vest. Well, I have one myself, and, each time I  wear it (which is often), I think of Kate. 🙂
Anwyay, what the world would have been without Katharine Hepburn? What her co-stars would have been without her? Katharine Hepburn always seemed to have a perfect chemistry with the actors and actresses she was working with (young and old). Not always necessarily and  good off-screen chemistry, but certainly a good on-screen one. That was part of her professionalism. Kate made shining stars shine even more. She didn’t overshadowe them, she made them her equal (ok, I’m talking like James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story) in an unconscious way. She was a great and respectable lady from A to Z. She was a queen.
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Before leaving you, I have to reveal a little top list of my 10 most favourite Katharine Hepburn’s films. What do you think? Otherwise it wouldn’t been  a worthy article for this blog. 😉
1- Bringing Up Baby (and my second favourite movie of all times)
4- Little Women (I just love this scene with Joan Bennett when she shows her how to faint!)
5- Woman of the Year
6- On Golden Pond
7- The Rainmaker
8- Suddenly, Last Summer
9- Guess Who’s Comming to Dinner
10- Holiday
The film itself is not on the list, but I have to give an honorable mention to The Lion in Winter, because that certainly was one of Kate’s greatest performances.
I also invite you to watch my video tribute to her.
Since last Thursday, I watched a bunch of Katharine Hepburn’s films (some I had never seen, some I already saw). Of course, I’m going to watch more today. I will cook her famous brownies as well and read the other contributions for the blogathon. What a grant Kate’s day it will be!
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I, of course, want to thank Margaret for organizing this great event again. You can read the contributions here:
I’ll leave you with this quote by Katharine Hepburn that is a favourite of mine, because it makes me think so much of me. I love Kate’s mentality!
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”
Happy heavenly birthday beautiful Kate! ❤
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I think this is my favourite Kate’s moment.

Top of the World: 15 Favourite Winning Oscar Performances by an Actress

Are you ready for a new top list? I know you are! I’ve promised myself to come back with a new one every week and, so far, I haven’t really kept my promise… But I’m working on it!

So, today, I present you my top 15 favourite Oscar winning performances by an actress (to those who won for BEST ACTRESS. For BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, we’ll have to look at a futur top). I first wanted to do a top of my favourite performances by an actress without considering the Oscar wins, but it was too difficult as I have too many favourite performances! So, this seemed to be a good compromise, and I’m quite satisfied with my choices!

Of course, this list is very subjective. My top 1 might not be your top one, and your top 3 might not be my top 3. It’s not an objective list. These are just my personal choices and the first objective of this list is really just to entertain you and share my cinematic tastes with you.

To make this more thrilling, I’ll present you my choices in descending order. So, number one will be a more surprise for you!

But even if this is a subjective list, I do hope you’ll like it (or well, at least 1 or 2 of my choices ahah)! :O

Ok, here we go!

15. Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy – Bruce Beresford, 1989)

14. Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking – Tim Robbins, 1995)

13. Faye Dunaway (Network – Sidney Lumet, 1976)

Well, I do hope Faye would have won the Oscar for Bonnie and Clyde, but I also love her performance in Network (otherwise she wouldn’t be on the list!)

12. Joan Fontaine (Suspicion – Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)

The only actress/actor who ever won an Oscar for a performance in an Hitchcock’s film. Now that’s quite a moment in Oscar history! And she was great!

11. Diane Keaton (Annie Hall – Woody Allen, 1977)

Imagine if, being too shocked by the emotion of winning an Oscar she would have said “Ladida ladida la la” as an acceptance speech!

10. Natalie Portman (Black Swan – Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

9. Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight – George Cukor, 1944)

Yes, we do love very psychological performances!

8. Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver – William Wyler, 1942) 

7. Grace Kelly (The Country Girl – George Seaton, 1954)

I know some of you won’t agree here, but I do think Grace deserved her Oscar for this brilliant performance! We have to support our favourites, no? 😉

6. Katharine Hepburn (On Golden Pond – Mark Rydell, 1981)

That was Ms. Hepburn 4th and last Oscar. A very well-deserved one!

5. Shirley Booth (Come Back Little Sheba -Daniel Mann, 1952)

Oh, I was so happy when I learned that she had won the Oscar for this performance! I just love her in that film!

4. Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday – William Wyler, 1953)

My favourite performance by my favourite actress 🙂

3. Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker – Arthur Penn, 1962)

2. Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind – Victor Flemming, 1939)

There’s only one Scarlett O’Hara, and that’s Vivien Leigh!

and…

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BIG SUSPENCE

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1. Olivia de Havilland (The Heiress – William Wyler, 1949)!

Ok now, I DO think this is the best performance by an actress. I’m both objective and subjective here!

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Seriously, we have to give some credits to William Wyler for bringing the best out of his actresses (and actors)!

So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this post! Please don’t hesitate to share your personal choices  in the comments! 🙂

Music in the High Society of The Philadelphia Story

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Remakes are, in general. something peopled tend to avoid, because the concept itself doesn’t really have a good reputation. However, there are some exceptions. Sometimes, the remake can be as good as the original film, sometimes it can even be better! Well, that’s all a matter of tastes. I’m telling you all this because, today, I’m participating to the They Remade What?! Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. It’s, as you may have guessed, a blogathon about movie remakes. On my side, I’ve chosen to compare The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940) and its musical remake, High Society (Charles Walters, 1956). High Society is one of those great remakes. Just like The Philadelphia Story, it also became a classic.

I must say, if you’d ask me which one is my favourite between the two, I wouldn’t really be able to answer. Well, I might prefer The Philadelphia Story little bit more, but I LOVE them both. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. For this article, I won’t review the two films separately, but will compare them together telling you what I prefer in one, what I like less in another, etc.

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We all know the story of The Philadelphia Story and High Society, but let me refresh your memory. Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn/Grace Kelly) is engaged to John Kittredge ( John Howard/John Lund) and they are about to get married. She comes from a rich family and lives in a big mansion with her mother (Mary Nash/Margalo Gillmore) and her younger sister Dinah (Virginia Weidler)/Caroline (Lydia Reed) in High Society. Their uncle, Willy (Roland Young/Louis Calhern), lives not very far and often visits them. Their father, Seth Lord (John Halliday/Sidney Blackmer) has left the house and rumours say he’s having an affair with a young dancer. Two years ago, Tracy had divorced from C.K Dexter Heaven (Cary Grant/Bing Crosby) and isn’t too fond of him since then. Spy Magazine, a gossip magazine, is very interested by Tracy’s wedding and want a journalist and a photographer to cover the event. Mike Connors (James Stewart/Frank Sinatra) is the reporter who would be sent. Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey/Celest Holm) is the photographer. But how will they access to the inaccessible Tracy Lord? This one especially doesn’t like gossip magazines. Well, that differs from one film to another. In The Philadelphia Story, C. K Dexter Heaven will be their access card, introducing Liz and Mike to the Lord as friends of Junius (Tracy’s brother). Of course, she doesn’t believe him so Dexter has to confess his lie, but he also explains her that she has no choice, because Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), Spy Magazine publisher, has treated to publish a juicy article about her father and this dancer, if she refuses to receive a journalist for her wedding. In High Society, all this happens more quickly. As a matter of fact, it’s uncle Willy who learns Kidd’s project and tells Tracy. So, she will receive Mike and Liz, but she doesn’t have the intention to act normal and things will turn pretty strange…

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The Philadelphia Story and High Society are not that much different, but they are all unique in their own way (except the fact that one is a musical and that the other one is in black and white…). Well, let’s see how.

The casting and the characters:

In the original version, Tracy Lord is interpreted by Katharine Hepburn and, in the remake, by Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly is my favourite actress between the two, but, in this film, I must admit Katharine Hepburn is hard to beat. She might be a little more suitable for the role. However, Grace is great too, and there are some scenes where she really steals the show. I’m particularly thinking of this scene when she is simply interviewing Mike and Liz without letting them time to ask HER some questions, like they are supposed to do. She’s just so funny in this scene. Katharine Hepburn is too, but Grace amazed me more. I must say, it’s also pretty unusual to see Grace playing someone a little too joyful due to the effects of alcohol and she handles this greatly.

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I must give all the credits to James Stewart for the interpretation of Mike Connors. He might be the best one of them all, including the actors of both films. Well, let’s not forget that he won an Oscar for this film. How can we forget this scene when he goes to Dexter’s place in the middle of the night completely drunk? How can we forget his great complicity with both Katharine Hepburn and Ruth Hussey? Jimmy is great. OK? That’s not without reasons that he is my favourite actor. Frank Sinatra was good as Mike, but not as much as Jimmy. However, I must give him the singing credits because James Stewart was a good actor, but certainly not a good singer! Well, that’s another way he can make us laugh (when he sings Over the Rainbow).

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I don’t know if I prefer Bing Crosby or Cary Grant in these films. Well, in life in general, I prefer Cary, but here I must say I’m good with both. Bing Crosby might be a little more likeable as Dexter, less arrogant than Cary Grant, but in a way I like them both equally. On the other hand, Cary might be a little funnier, but Bing charms us with his sexy low singing voice. Well, I guess they both win a place in my heart.

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Between Ruth Hussey and Celest Holm, I think Ruth did a better job playing Liz Imbrie. She acts with a certain easiness that is fascinating to watch. Celest Holm was good too, but Ruth Hussey was more natural. I really love her in this film and her team work with James Stewart might be a little better than Celest Holm and Frank Sinatra’s teamwork. But don’t get me wrong, Celest Holm did a fine job too and I’d have always liked her as well.

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Virginia Weidler is one of those child actors who can really sometimes steal the show as soon as she has the occasion to. Along with uncle Willy, her character, Dinah, is one of the funniest of The Philadelphia Story. The reason why we might remember her better than Lydia Reed is because, I’ve noticed, she appears more often in the film. But, in a way, I must say Virginia Weidler really was at the top. Complicity between Lydia Reed and Bing Crosby (Dexter) might be better though, and she really is adorable.

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The interpretation of uncle Willy was greatly handled by both Roland Young and Louis Calhern. Young might be a little bit funnier, but Louis Calhern is one of those great character actors. He has a really refine humour in this film, which is highly appreciated. Honestly, just like Bing and Cary, I wouldn’t be able to say who gives the best performance, which one I prefer.

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Mary Nash really is a delight in this film. She’s a mother who cares about her children. She’s a little crazy sometimes, but this is due to all the stress of the wedding. I must say her interpretation was better than Margalo Gillmore’s one. This one was ok, but I’m sorry to say that she’s far from giving the best interpretation of the two films.

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I don’t have much to say about John Howard and John Lund’s interpretation of George. Both plays him perfectly right because he is so boring, but I think that was meant to be. So, in this idea, they certainly did a great job. Well, I must say, in a way, I wasn’t really impressed by their acting, maybe because they were playing someone too ordinary to give them the occasion to develop their acting skills. I don’t have much to say neither about John Halliday and Sidney Blackmer, who both play the role of Seth Lord. John Halliday was a little better, but Sidney Blackmer was nice too.

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We have to give a big credit to High Society for Louis Armstrong’s presence (playing his own role). This legendary man certainly adds a lot to the film and to its musical side!

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The costumes

Well, when we came to costumes, colour movies certainly help a little, it gives us the occasion to see how the outfits really look like. The costumes I’ll be focusing on are certainly Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly’s ones. Katharine Hepburn’s costumes for The Philadelphia Story were designed by Adrian. She wears some beautiful dress. The wedding dress is really pretty, because it’s simple, not too extravagant. But, we must say that Helen Rose, who design Grace’s costumes, kind of win the competition. I’m kind of jealous seeing Grace wearing such beautiful dresses! I would like to wear stuff like that too. The colors, of course, helps a lot as I said. I had the occasion to see some of these costumes during the Grace Kelly’s exhibition in Montreal. Believe me, it was a real treat for the eyes! I also have to say that Ruth Hussey has some pretty interesting hats in The Philadelphia Story!

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The music

Before I continue, let me point out a little difference between the Dexter of The Philadelphia Story and the Dexter of High Society. The first one designs boats, that’s his profession, and the second one is a jazz singer. He organizes a little jazz festival the day before the wedding. Well, that’s a musical. Of course, there is some nice background music in The Philadelphia Story. This one was composed by the great Franz Waxman. Being a musical, High Society is certainly more noticeable for its music. You have some great tunes here! Those were composed by the great Cole Porter. My favourite ones are “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, “True Love” and  “Now You Have Jazz”. This duet between Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong is simply unforgettable.

The editing

Ok, I’ve noticed something  quite odd in High Society: we rarely see close shots of close-up. That’s the main reason why I prefer the editing of The Philadelphia Story, we are more able to see people’s emotions. Well, we can see and feel them in High Society too, because the actors are great, but some closer shots of the actors’ faces would have been appreciated. Continuing with the concept of editing, I might say that some scenes might be a little too long in The Philadelphia Story (I’m thinking of the one just before the wedding, when Tracy remembers what happened during the party, and the one between Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart at the party, just before they decide to go swimming). I guess the songs in High Society helped to avoid that.

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The screenplay

The Philadelphia Story was based on a play. High Society was, I think, more based on The Philadelphia Story‘s film than on the play. Well, I’ve named some differences, but in general, both stories are pretty similar. The little differences doesn’t really influence the way the action progress. The lines do not completely change in High Society, we can find the same ones in both films. This scene when Mike (James Stewart) visits Dexter (Cary Grant) completely drunk includes some of the most memorable lines. In High Society, they sing a song instead. Well, in a general way, The Philadelphia Story might emphasizes on its lines and High Society on its songs.  The Philadelphia Story won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, but I’d be interested to read both screenplays, both seem interesting.

The directors

I think each director were both perfectly suitable for each movie. The Philadelphia Story is such “George Cukor’s film”, one last time pairing Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Those two always make a fine duo. Charles Walters was well chosen to direct High Society. The man is greatly able to direct nice and easy comedies like this one. Of course, George Cukor would have been able to direct it, but I think it would have lost its pretty innocence, and it’s nice to see both films directed by different directors.

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Well, these are the main elements with whom I wanted to compare The Philadelphia Story and High Society. You can now understand better what I prefer from one film to another. Honestly, I always have so much fun watching both. These are films I just never get tired to watch. The one I’ve seen the most often is The Philadelphia Story, but that’s because I’ve got the DVD since a longer time.

I was not alone in this marvellous blogathon, so, of course, as Grace Kelly says in High Society, “keep your lovely seats” and take a look at the other lovely entries!

They Remade What?! Blogathon

Of course, thanks to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies for hosting this event!

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