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MotherofZeus

Philadelphia Story vs. High Society

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So, in watching the discussion of High Society today, I found it difficult to agree that High Society's musical numbers give more depth to the characters.  I would argue it has less dimension than the non-musical Philadelphia Story.  I see just as much psychoanalysis of Tracy in the original as the father tells her a daughter's love is what keeps a father young, and his affairs are her fault. I've always felt that that aspect of the tale was a "Just, wow!" moment that is hard for contemporary women to swallow.  They cut her down to size quite deftly in the original with the same complaints about her expectations of others. Hepburn's Tracy is far more transformed from ice queen to a woman who embraces people and herself as they are and she is. I don't see a convincing change in Kelly's Tracy.

I do love the music in High Society. Any Louis Armstrong  is good music. Likewise Cole Porter.  I agree that the most delightful couple is Bing and Louis. This is what I watch an otherwise watered down movie. Grace is stunningly beautiful, but Hepburn outacts her by miles.  Cary and Jimmy are also leagues ahead of Crosby and Sinatra in depth of character, nuance in performance, and bringing issues of class to the front.  I found it interesting in comparing this movie's exploration of class and how the "mighty have fallen" as a bit out of place in the prosperous for white-America 50s where it was right in line with the original Philadelphia Story's 1940 preference of the average Joe, deflation of the rich as America had not yet come out of the Depression. 

What do others feel about High Society?

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In most cases I prefer the first version of a movie (or even a song) over others, whether my "first" is the actual first or a remake. In this case High Society was my first version of the story. I liked Philadelphia Story but much prefer High Society. Then again, True Love was my parents' "song" and my mother had the 45 of it, with What a Swell Party it Was on the B-side. It wasn't until years later that I saw High Society and realized that was where those songs had originated.

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I loved both movies. Hepburn had to chose between Grant and Stewart. Grant would have won hands down. Crosby and Sinatra. Come on, Crosby was too old. Sinatra would have won hands down. I loved the music in High Society, but the acting was better in Philadelphia Story. With that said I felt it was one of the best adapted movie into a musical. 

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11 minutes ago, BlueMoods said:

In most cases I prefer the first version of a movie (or even a song) over others, whether my "first" is the actual first or a remake. In this case High Society was my first version of the story. I liked Philadelphia Story but much prefer High Society. Then again, True Love was my parents' "song" and my mother had the 45 of it, with What a Swell Party it Was on the B-side. It wasn't until years later that I saw High Society and realized that was where those songs had originated.

I love that being your parents' song.

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9 minutes ago, MotherofZeus said:

I love that being your parents' song.

When I was much younger I thought it was a wedding song. But they were married in 1942 so it obviously wasn't. :) I think it's cute that ten years into the marriage they still had "songs" like new sweethearts.

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I find it amusing that every line of dialogue they quoted as being reflective of the 50s comes straight out of Philip Barry's play of the late 30s. And the play is all about class and class consciousness. Barry was one of the great playwrights of the upper class in pre-War America (being a genteel-poor relative of a rich family in real life). His characters in Philadelphia Story, Holiday and Biography (filmed as Biography of a Bachelor Girl) are rich and complex, and while I enjoy High Society the screenplay adds no depth to them.

The film was basically conceived to cash in on Grace Kelly's wealthy Philadelphia society background (she was not working class as the professor states) and her engagement to European royalty (she were her own engagement ring in the film which Celeste Holms said they could have all gone ice skating on).

As to Bing Crosby being to old for her, Ms. Kelly evidently didn't think so since they had quite an affair when working together earlier. Also, this is very much a comedy of remarriage -- not Crosby/Grant's line in the confrontation scene after the swim when he punches out Sinatra/Stewart, claiming it is "his right until tomorrow".

 

 

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  I love both movies but I adore a Philadelphia Story, although for me it was always hard to except the aspect of the storyline of her being the “bad guy“ for not excepting her father’s affair “Gracefully“. I have always seen swing time as a fun extension of the Philadelphia Story story line 

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To me there’s no comparison. Philadelphia Story hands down. First of all, it has the Hepburn/Grant magic, with a marvelous supporting cast. For the most part, I find the songs in High Society to be a drag on the action. Philadelphia Story just seems to me to be a faster-paced movie, paced more like a screwball comedy.

(If you want to see Hepburn and Grant in a film that really skewers class, wealth, and snobbery, check out Holiday.)

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What I fail to understand, in any comparisons of these two films, is why the most glaring difference is NEVER mentioned.  The musical moves the action to Newport, Rhode island.  Philadelphia IS NOT in Rhode Island.

This said, I have to say that I prefer the musical!!!

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Hepburn would be more convincing than Kelly in pretty much anything... though Grace would win me in a heartbeat.  'High Society' was just an excuse to put a few musical numbers together in a light fluff musical, and strut out a few big stars.

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6 hours ago, BartG said:

 

I find it amusing that every line of dialogue they quoted as being reflective of the 50s comes straight out of Philip Barry's play of the late 30s. And the play is all about class and class consciousness.

 

Exactly!  I think the subsequent comments after yours agree that where Philadelphia Story is a movie I cannot turn off and will go to again and again, High Society is a light musical romp pasted atop the unsurpassed original film. 

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I like the musical numbers in HIGH SOCIETY, but that's about it.  I especially like "That's Jazz" and the meta-filled "Well Did You Evah".

I love THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and watch it virtually every time TCM airs it.  The entire cast is sublime--not a false acting note anywhere.  Hepburn and Grant are perfectly matched and much easier to root for than Kelly and the too-old-for-her Crosby.  We fully believe Hepburn's Tracy as she transforms from brittle, angry, and judgmental to warm and loving when she's finally willing to admit nobody's perfect.  She's haughty, defensive, and angry at Dex when he confronts her about why their marriage failed; when George and her father confirm Dex's assertion that she acts like some kind of cold, untouchable goddess, she's devastated.  Dex says it bitterly, George says it worshipfully, and her father says it bluntly and matter-of-factly; but Tracy takes all their words as condemnation of her womanhood.  

While I find the acting superb, I find it downright creepy that a father would tell his adult daughter it's HER fault that he's cheating on his wife. That's just so wrong on so many levels.  I'm also troubled by how quickly and easily Elizabeth takes Macaulay back after he's proposed to Tracy on the spur of the moment to save her reputation.  Come on girl, have a little self-respect!  (I feel the same way about Tracy's mother.)

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High Society does not hold a candle to The Philadelphia Story. Just to clear the air, I agree with the comments that the sanctimonious blame-shifting to Tracy/Samantha for her father's affair is disgusting. Also, I think there is no chemistry at all between Samantha and Bing Crosby. None!! (And it's not the age difference and it doesn't matter how they related off screen).  I watch High Society strictly to see Louis Armstrong and Grace Kelly, though she can't match Katharine Hepburn's acting. The Philadelphia Story is wonderful on account of Hepburn and the chemistry between her and BOTH Cary Grant and James Stewart. All three actors are capable of making Philip Barry's language sing. And the lighting makes Hepburn look incandescent. 

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I hear Katherine Hepburn's voice and cadence in Grace Kelly's performance. Both women had stylized voices and stage/screen presence which are complementary in these two films. That said, the musical is much richer. Crosby and Sinatra's musical styles add a lot to the character development. If two men are vieing for the same woman, they should be equally adept in their art and these men are. The Cole Porter songs rise above the musical landscape. The melodies are more complex and the lyrics quick and clever, more than those of most of the other films we have studied for this class. Further, the charm of both singers is part of the fun. The way Louis Armstrong numbers is strung throughout the film anchors the story line as an ostinato. Of course, the happy ending does not hurt.

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I really enjoy both but prefer Philadelphia Story. It's funny because most of the time, I prefer a musical version of something over its non-musical original (Pygmalion vs. My Fair Lady, 8 1/2 vs. Nine, Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Hairspray). The songs in High Society are delightful, and it's beautiful to look at. But while that cast all play off each other well, the cast in Philadelphia Story has a certain magnetic chemistry to them. I also find the direction snappier in the original which serves the witty material better. Both films are a treat to watch, though. I'm happy we got Philadelphia Story on Blu-ray at last through Criterion. I keep impatiently tapping my feet waiting for High Society from (presumably) Warner Archive. The master used on TCM looks great, so I don't see this needing any extensive restoration work the way Seven Brides for Seven Brothers did. 

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Comparing roles...I have starred the ones I prefer or marked them tied.

Dexter: Cary Grant* vs. Bing Crosby

Tracy: Katherine Hepburn* vs. Grace Kelly

Mike: Jimmy Stewart vs. Frank Sinatra (tied)

Caroline: Virginia Weidler* vs. Lydia Reed

Kittredge: John Howard vs. John Lund*

Liz: Ruth Hussey vs. Celeste Holm (tied)

Mrs. Lord: Mary Nash* vs. Margalo Gilmore

Mr. Lord: John Halliday*  vs. Sidney Blackmer

Uncle Willy: Roland Young vs. Louis Calhern (tied)

Since I have retired, I have way too much time on my hands!

By the way Dr. Ament, “box” refers to the piano.

 

 

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I fell in love with Cary Grant long ago, so Philadelphia Story is my hands down winner. I remember the first time I saw High Society - I had great hopes, but they were dashed. I found it to be rather bland, with none of the wit and chemistry that PS had. I do not consider it a great musical at all.

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3 hours ago, jawz63 said:

Comparing roles...I have starred the ones I prefer or marked them tied.

Dexter: Cary Grant* vs. Bing Crosby

Tracy: Katherine Hepburn* vs. Grace Kelly

Mike: Jimmy Stewart vs. Frank Sinatra (tied)

Caroline: Virginia Weidler* vs. Lydia Reed

Kittredge: John Howard vs. John Lund*

 Liz: Ruth Hussey vs. Celeste Holm (tied)

Mrs. Lord: Mary Nash* vs. Margalo Gilmore

Mr. Lord: John Halliday*  vs. Sidney Blackmer

Uncle Willy: Roland Young vs. Louis Calhern (tied)

Since I have retired, I have way too much time on my hands!

By the way Dr. Ament, “box” refers to the piano.

 

 

Evidently I have time too.  I agree with almost everything but Liz (gotta give it to Ruth Hussey in my book) and Mike is hands down Jimmy Stewart by a mile.  I enjoy High Society but I find none of it better or more dimensional. I enjoy it simply for the music and Grace's timeless beauty.

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10 hours ago, MotherofZeus said:

Evidently I have time too.  I agree with almost everything but Liz (gotta give it to Ruth Hussey in my book) and Mike is hands down Jimmy Stewart by a mile.  I enjoy High Society but I find none of it better or more dimensional. I enjoy it simply for the music and Grace's timeless beauty.

I tied Liz and Mike because although Jimmy and Ruth are better actors, I just love Frank and Celeste. Never felt Celeste Holms got her due. And you’re right about the music. I withstood the dialog just to get to each song. What a Swell party.

 

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@jawz63, Celeste Holms definitely didn't get her due, I agree about that. Neither did Ruth Hussey for that matter. Although Thelma Ritter is revered by a few, she also does not get her due that she deserves.   Ahhhh.....the supporting cast ringers.  One cannot say enough about them.

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I adore Celeste Holms (especially in All About Eve) but with Sinatra??  I don't think so....

I also agree completely with the Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby coupling....I don't think so.

Philadelphia Story is really meticulously cast. High Society? Not so much...

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I first saw The Philadelphia Story when I was 14? and have seen it 30 times since then at least! Unfortunately, the more I see High Society, the less I like it :( Grace Kelly is gorgeous, the sets are beautiful, the music is divine but the script and the acting are a bit dull imo--except when Frank Sinatra stares into Grace Kelly's eyes while singing You're Sensational. ::where'stheswoonemoji::

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11 hours ago, DeannaDares said:

I first saw The Philadelphia Story when I was 14? and have seen it 30 times since then at least! Unfortunately, the more I see High Society, the less I like it :( Grace Kelly is gorgeous, the sets are beautiful, the music is divine but the script and the acting are a bit dull imo--except when Frank Sinatra stares into Grace Kelly's eyes while singing You're Sensational. ::where'stheswoonemoji::

I was so disappointed that Grace Kelly's character didn't end up marrying Frank Sinatra! Everyone ended up with someone, but gosh, Grace and Bing?!?!

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IMHO I think High Society is an awful musical remake of the wonderful Philadelphia Story and it’s not the music! The music is great! Here’s the flaw for my money: BING CROSBY! It’s not that I don’t love Crosby and his crooning but c’mon standing in for the Cary Grant character?? 

It was stretching it when they paired Grace Kelly with him in Country Girl. Yes, I know they had an affair. Yes I know she had Daddy issues! BUT.. to put him in the character against her (and her return to petulance via To Catch A Thief) seems ludicrous. Its definitely my least favorite appearance of hers and definitely his. I cringe watching it!
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