The Philadelphia Story


1h 52m 1940
The Philadelphia Story

Brief Synopsis

Tabloid reporters crash a society marriage.

Photos & Videos

The Philadelphia Story - Lobby Card Set
The Philadelphia Story - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Philadelphia Story - Movie Poster

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 17, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 27 Dec 1940
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry (New York, 28 Mar 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

The wealth and position of the socially prominent Lord family of Philadelphia has made Tracy, the eldest daughter, into an imperious and haughty shrew. Tracy's attitude causes a marital rift with her childhood sweetheart, sportsman and recovering alcoholic C. K. Dexter Haven, leading to a divorce. Two years later, Tracy is poised to wed the pompous and politically ambitious self-made man George Kittridge when Dexter returns from an extended absence accompanied by scandal sheet reporters Macaulay "Mike" Connor and Elizabeth Imbrey. Because Sidney Kidd, the powerful publisher of the scandal magazine Spy , has embarassing information on Tracy's father Seth's affair with a dancer, Dexter agrees to allow Mike and Liz access to Tracy's wedding in exchange for not printing the story on Seth. Although Dexter introduces Mike and Liz as old friends of Tracy's brother Junius, who is living in South America, Tracy realizes that Mike and Liz are reporters. She allows them to stay, however, and puts on an exaggerated performance of a society girl for them when Dexter tells her about Kidd. Tracy is angry at Dexter for coming back after two years, but her mother Margaret and sister Dinah are delighted at his presence, complicating Tracy's attempts to have a dignified wedding. Because Tracy is angry at her father for his affair and doesn't expect him at the wedding, she pretends that her uncle Willie is her father, hoping to make Mike and Liz think that everyone is happy. Though she at first has nothing but contempt for Mike, she gradually comes to admire him when she finds a book of poetry he has written at the local public library. Mike, too, comes to admire Tracy, whom he realizes is more than just a superficial society girl. Liz, who thinks that Tracy and Dexter are still in love, begins to get jealous when she realizes that Mike is starting to fall for Tracy. When Seth unexpectedly returns home and Margaret is happy to see him, Tracy chastises them. Seth then lectures her about her heartlessness, as does Dexter, who gives her a model of the yacht they used for their honeymoon, The True Love , as a wedding present. Confused and hurt over things that Seth and Dexter have said to her, Tracy becomes very drunk at her engagement party and starts kissing Mike after a middle-of-the-night swim at home. The next morning, a very hung over Tracy doesn't seem to remember what happened the night before, but as Dinah and the others start to remind her, she becomes even more confused. When Dexter and Kittridge arrive and Kittridge's pompous reaction to Tracy's seeming indiscretion the night before is revealed, Tracy realizes that she doesn't love him, and Kittridge leaves. The guests have gathered for the wedding, however, and the entire family is waiting for Tracy to do something. As the orchestra plays the strings of the wedding march, Dexter advises Tracy on what to say to the guests and, as he feeds her the lines, she tells them that they were cheated out of seeing her marry Dexter the first time, but they will be able to see her marry him this time. Now realizing that Dexter is proposing, Tracy happily accompanies him down the aisle. Harmony seems to be restored in the Lord household until a flashbulb pops and the bride and groom are surprised by a photographer and Kidd places their picture in the next issue of Spy .

Photo Collections

The Philadelphia Story - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from The Philadelphia Story (1940), starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Philadelphia Story - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of Behind-the-Scenes photos taken during production of The Philadelphia Story (1940), directed by George Cukor and starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart.
The Philadelphia Story - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Philadelphia Story (1941). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Philadelphia Story, The (1941) - They Grew Up Together Complexity as Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) performs for impostor society wedding guests (really reporters) Mike (James Stewart) and Liz (Ruth Hussey), fiancè George (John Howard) arrives, and her ex, Dexter (Cary Grant) crashes in The Philadelphia Story, 1941.
Philadelphia Story, The (1941) - Great Leveleler Well-lit journalist Mike (James Stewart in his Academy Award-winning role) visits society-playboy C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), to discuss liquor, Dexter's ex-wife (Katharine Hepburn, not seen) and an evil publisher in George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story, 1941.
Philadelphia Story, The (1941) - Opening, Tracy & Dexter Opening credits and famous scene denoting the end of the marriage of Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) and Dexter (Cary Grant), from director George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story, 1941, from Philip Barry's play.
Philadelphia Story, The (1941) - I'll Confess! Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) realizes her ex Dexter (Cary Grant) is spinning a yarn about returning for her wedding, with mom (Mary Nash) and kid sister (Virginia Wiedler) playing catch-up, in The Philadelphia Story, 1941.
Philadelphia Story, The (1941) - I'm Not A Society Snoop First scene for James Stewart as writer Mike Connor, Ruth Hussey his colleague Liz, Cary Grant undetected as C.K. Dexter Haven, Henry Daniell as "Spy Magazine" publisher Kidd, plotting a way into Katharine Hepburn's society wedding, early in George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story, 1941.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 17, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 27 Dec 1940
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry (New York, 28 Mar 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Wins

Best Actor

1940
James Stewart

Best Writing, Screenplay

1941

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1940
Katharine Hepburn

Best Director

1940
George Cukor

Best Picture

1940

Best Supporting Actress

1940
Ruth Hussey

Articles

The Philadelphia Story - The Philadelphia Story


In one of her most famous roles, Katharine Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, the daughter of a well-to-do Pennsylvania family in The Philadelphia Story (1940). The young socialite is about to embark on a second marriage and the lucky groom is George Kittredge (John Howard), a comparatively staid but extremely wealthy gentleman. Her first husband was C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) who is certainly more colorful than Kittredge if slightly less responsible. When Dexter makes an unexpected appearance at the Lord's home on the eve of Tracy's wedding, it is not so much to wish her well as to shield her from the prying eyes of an overly ambitious reporter (James Stewart) assigned to cover the nuptials.

The Philadelphia Story was based on a screenplay by Phillip Barry who wrote the play specifically for Katharine Hepburn. The actress was so impressed with the script she agreed to finance part of the stage production herself and did not draw a salary. She did receive a portion of the profits which were significant due to the play's huge success on Broadway. This came at a critical point in Hepburn's career which had faltered during the previous few years. In 1938, she was labeled "box office poison" by the Independent Theatre Owners of America after several commercial failures.

Realizing the potential of The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn purchased the motion picture rights to the property and approached Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, with a deal. She agreed to sell Mayer the rights to the property for the very modest amount of $250,000, in exchange for the authority to select her own director, screenwriter and cast. Securing control over the production, Hepburn chose George Cukor to direct. The two had worked together in Hepburn's first film role, A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and then again in the 1933 version of Little Women. Hepburn chose Donald Ogden Stewart to write. He was a friend of Philip Barry's and was a master at preserving an original play's integrity when adapting it to the screen.

Hepburn approached Cary Grant for the role of Tracy's former husband and Grant accepted on two conditions. First, that he receive top billing and second, that he be paid $137,000 which was considered an extremely generous salary at the time. Interestingly, upon receiving his salary, Grant donated the entire amount to the British War Relief Fund.

Hepburn had become interested in Jimmy Stewart for the part of the newshound ever since the actor had received accolades and an Oscar® nomination for his portrayal of an idealistic senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the previous year.

When the film was released, it broke the previous box office record held at Radio City Music Hall where it earned $600,000 in six weeks. It also proved that Katharine Hepburn knew how to deliver a hit when given the opportunity and was just the opposite of box office poison. The Philadelphia Story also did well at the Academy Awards® that year. The film earned 6 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Jimmy Stewart scored a Best Actor Oscar to the surprise of many including the actor himself who stated that he had voted for Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath. Many thought the Academy was trying to make amends for not awarding Stewart the Oscar® for his role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the prior year.

Donald Ogden Stewart was not so modest upon receiving his award for Best Screenplay. When given the prized statuette, the writer declared, "I have no one to thank but myself!"

Producer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Director: George Cukor
Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Costume Design: Adrian
Film Editing: Frank Sullivan
Original Music: Franz Waxman
Principal Cast: Cary Grant (C.K. Dexter Haven), Katharine Hepburn (Tracy Lord), James Stewart (Macauley Connor), Ruth Hussey (Liz Imbrie), John Howard (George Kittredge), Roland Young (Uncle Willie), Virginia Weidler (Dinah Lord), Henry Daniell (Sidney Kidd).
BW-113m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Mary Anne Melear
The Philadelphia Story  - The Philadelphia Story

The Philadelphia Story - The Philadelphia Story

In one of her most famous roles, Katharine Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, the daughter of a well-to-do Pennsylvania family in The Philadelphia Story (1940). The young socialite is about to embark on a second marriage and the lucky groom is George Kittredge (John Howard), a comparatively staid but extremely wealthy gentleman. Her first husband was C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) who is certainly more colorful than Kittredge if slightly less responsible. When Dexter makes an unexpected appearance at the Lord's home on the eve of Tracy's wedding, it is not so much to wish her well as to shield her from the prying eyes of an overly ambitious reporter (James Stewart) assigned to cover the nuptials. The Philadelphia Story was based on a screenplay by Phillip Barry who wrote the play specifically for Katharine Hepburn. The actress was so impressed with the script she agreed to finance part of the stage production herself and did not draw a salary. She did receive a portion of the profits which were significant due to the play's huge success on Broadway. This came at a critical point in Hepburn's career which had faltered during the previous few years. In 1938, she was labeled "box office poison" by the Independent Theatre Owners of America after several commercial failures. Realizing the potential of The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn purchased the motion picture rights to the property and approached Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, with a deal. She agreed to sell Mayer the rights to the property for the very modest amount of $250,000, in exchange for the authority to select her own director, screenwriter and cast. Securing control over the production, Hepburn chose George Cukor to direct. The two had worked together in Hepburn's first film role, A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and then again in the 1933 version of Little Women. Hepburn chose Donald Ogden Stewart to write. He was a friend of Philip Barry's and was a master at preserving an original play's integrity when adapting it to the screen. Hepburn approached Cary Grant for the role of Tracy's former husband and Grant accepted on two conditions. First, that he receive top billing and second, that he be paid $137,000 which was considered an extremely generous salary at the time. Interestingly, upon receiving his salary, Grant donated the entire amount to the British War Relief Fund. Hepburn had become interested in Jimmy Stewart for the part of the newshound ever since the actor had received accolades and an Oscar® nomination for his portrayal of an idealistic senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the previous year. When the film was released, it broke the previous box office record held at Radio City Music Hall where it earned $600,000 in six weeks. It also proved that Katharine Hepburn knew how to deliver a hit when given the opportunity and was just the opposite of box office poison. The Philadelphia Story also did well at the Academy Awards® that year. The film earned 6 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Jimmy Stewart scored a Best Actor Oscar to the surprise of many including the actor himself who stated that he had voted for Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath. Many thought the Academy was trying to make amends for not awarding Stewart the Oscar® for his role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the prior year. Donald Ogden Stewart was not so modest upon receiving his award for Best Screenplay. When given the prized statuette, the writer declared, "I have no one to thank but myself!" Producer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz Director: George Cukor Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg Costume Design: Adrian Film Editing: Frank Sullivan Original Music: Franz Waxman Principal Cast: Cary Grant (C.K. Dexter Haven), Katharine Hepburn (Tracy Lord), James Stewart (Macauley Connor), Ruth Hussey (Liz Imbrie), John Howard (George Kittredge), Roland Young (Uncle Willie), Virginia Weidler (Dinah Lord), Henry Daniell (Sidney Kidd). BW-113m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. by Mary Anne Melear

Quotes

I'm going crazy. I'm standing here solidly on my own two hands and going crazy.
- Tracy Lord
Oh Tracy darling...
- Macaulay Connor
Mike...
- Tracy Lord
What can I say to you? Tell me darling.
- Macaulay Connor
Not anything - don't say anything. And especially not "darling."
- Tracy Lord
It can't be anything like love, can it?
- Macaulay Connor
No, no, it can't be.
- Tracy Lord
Would it be inconvenient?
- Macaulay Connor
Terribly.
- Tracy Lord
Hello you.
- Macaulay Connor
Hello.
- Tracy Lord
You look fine.
- Macaulay Connor
I feel fine.
- Tracy Lord
The course of true love...
- Margaret Lord
...gathers no moss.
- Macaulay Connor

Trivia

Katharine Hepburn asked MGM to cast Clark Gable as Dexter and Spencer Tracy as Mike before she met either of them. Both Gable and Tracy were busy with other projects, so Cary Grant and 'James Stewart (I)' were cast instead.

Playwright Philip Barry based the character of Tracy on Hepburn's public image at the time. She'd left her previous studio, RKO, on bad terms, which only worsened her (temporarily) unpopular image.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1995.

The film was shot in eight weeks, and required no retakes. 'James Stewart' thought of hiccupping in the drunk scene himself, without telling Cary Grant. When he began hiccuping, Grant turned to Stewart saying, "Excuse me." The scene required only one take.

Katherine Hepburn starred in the Broadway production of the play on which this film was based and owned the film rights to the material they were purchased for her by billionaire Howard Hughes then given to her as a gift.

James Stewart had no plans to attend the Oscar ceremony the year he was nominated for this film. Just before the ceremony began, he received a call at home "advising" him to slip into a dinner jacket and attend the ceremony. He did and he received the award for Best Actor. This was in the days before an accounting firm kept the Oscar voting results secret.

Notes

According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Clark Gable was originally to have played the role of C. K. Dexter Haven. Another item in Hollywood Reporter states that the film was completed five days under schedule. The Variety review notes that in order to avoid competition with the stage play, M-G-M agreed not to put the film into general release until January 1941, although it was screened at selected theaters in December 1940. Hepburn revised the role she starred in on Broadway. James Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart won the award for Best Screenplay for their work on this film. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Hussey) and Best Direction (George Cukor).
       In an interview, Cukor confirms that Katharine Hepburn, who was considered "box office poison" at the time, had purchased the screen rights to the play, which was written with her in mind, in hopes of reviving her flagging film career. As hoped, the film's success revitalized Hepburn's standing in Hollywood. According to modern sources, because she had purchased the screen rights before the play opened, she was able to chose her director and co-stars. In 1942, the Lux Radio Theatre presented Philip Barry's play featuring the film's stars, and in 1943, presented another version starring Robert Taylor, Loretta Young and Robert Young. In 1956, Charles Walter directed Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in High Society, M-G-M's musical version of the Barry play.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1987

Released in United States on Video April 18, 1989

Released in United States Winter December 1940

Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) September 12, 1988.

Remade as a musical, "High Society" (1956) directed by Charles Walters.

Selected in 1995 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States March 1987 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (UCLA Movie Marathon: A Tribute to Cary Grant) March 11-26, 1987.)

Released in United States on Video April 18, 1989

Released in United States Winter December 1940