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The Philadelphia Story (1940)

You’re too good for me, George. You’re a hundred times too good. And I’d make you most unhappy, most. That is, I’d do my best to.

— Tracy Lord

It’s a known fact that Katharine Hepburn was considered box office poison during the early part of her career. It wasn’t until she went to Broadway with the #244 Film of All-Time on IMDB, The Philadelphia Story that her career got back on track. It was a smash hit and ran for year until MGM purchased the rights to the play by Philip Barry and created the motion picture. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards and won Oscars for Best Actor Jimmy Stewart and Best Adapted Screenplay. The farcical nature of the film seemed unnerving to me.

A Philadelphian socialite named Tracy Elizabeth Lord (Hepburn) is getting married to her nouveau riche fiancé, George Kittridge (John Howard) at her parents’ house. The whole action of the movies takes place in the span of three days. Tracy is prepping for her wedding with her mother, Margret (Mary Nash) and her younger sister, Dinah (Virginia Weidler). Their no-good father, Seth (John Halliday) is not invited to the wedding.

A tabloid magazine, Spy headed by Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) wants to infiltrate the wedding to get the scoop on the nuptials when Tracy refuses access to the event. He wants to have his reporter, Macaulay Connor (Jimmy Stewart) and his photographer girlfriend, Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to be a part of the wedding party. How would they do it, you may ask? They enlist the help of former Spy employee and Tracy’s ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) to pretend that they are friends of Tracy’s younger brother, Julius.

The trio have their plan of action. Macaulay and Liz are looking around the rooms to find any dirt as Dexter schmoozes with his former in-laws. When Tracy sees Dexter, the tension between them is palpable. She wants him out of her house and out of the wedding. She knows that the people pretending to be friends of her brother are working for Dexter. The family pretends to be an eccentric family when the real scoop of the story unfolds with Tracy, George, Macaulay and Dexter.

The movie is a pleasant romp. A comedy of errors, but there were very few genuine laughs in the movie for me. The acting was a little hammy for me.

There were some moments of heart between Stewart and Hepburn. I’m gonna go on a feminist rant here, but I hate it when a strong woman that doesn’t want to get married would settle with an asshole that treated them like shit. their only motivation is not to end up alone. This was the same problem that I had with His Girl Friday, also starring Cary Grant– I will get to him in a moment. A guy could be a complete bastard to the get the girl and she falls for it. It pisses me off. I know that these movies were before the sexual revelation, but come on. It makes me question the intelligence of these women in the end.

I have a major issue with Cary Grant. I have seen couple of his movies that I have notice that he shows no range. He is delivering lines that would cut through Hepburn’s character, but feels like he is saying the lines. He reminds me of Bill Paxton in his delivery. He has this stoic look on his face. It bothers the hell out of me.

Judgment: A nice fluffy movie with not that much substance.

Rating: 6.5/10

Vertigo (1958)


Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.

— Madeleine

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, Vertigo is currently#41 of the Top 250 of all time on IMDB. It was nominated for two  Oscars.

This is a simple “howcatchher” about a detective John “Scottie” Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart). He abruptly quits the force in the beginning of the film, when chasing a suspect on top of some apartment buildings he has a bout of vertigo and the second officer with him falls to his death trying to save him.

Feeling guilty and laid up in a back brace, Scottie seeks solace by his mousy best friend, Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). When he gets the brace taken off, he is contacted by an old college friend of theirs, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) that wants to hire Scottie to follow his wife.

Gavin believes that his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak) is possessed by a spirit of a dead woman that died a century before. Scottie reluctantly agrees to it. His decision leads to a dangerous road to heartache, loss and regret.

I was impressed by the way that Hitchcock would make the woman has a memorable entrance in a movie. There was no exception in this movie was Kim Novak in a gorgeous gown.

The visual look of the film was spectacular. In some instances, it was film noir and sometimes a Douglas Sirk bedroom drama. Wonderful filmmaking.

I was never bored. The pacing was perfect. The way that the camera shows Scottie succumbing to his agoraphobia and vertigo was great.

Judgment: A fabulous movie that should be seen to believe.

Rating: *****

Rear Window (1954)

I really hate overrated films that get a whole lots of attention that they don’t deserve it. After seeing Burn After Reading, I wanted to see a GOOD movie. I went back to 1954 for a great movie that I haven’t seen, but I know the premise.

There was a big fuss over Disturbia ripping off the premise of Rear Window. I have to say that I think that Shia LaBeouf vehicle did borrow some elements from Alfred Hitchcock classic film. It not a complete ripoff.

This film was #16 on the top 250 on imdb. I love this movie. It was nominated for 4 Oscars. I think that Alfred Hitchcock was vastly overlooked as a director/filmmaker.

Grace Kelly epitomized her name. The first of her in the movie was film magic. She was luminous as Lisa Carol Fremont. I was gripped with her possible imminent danger. Was she in peril by the Mr. Thorwald?

My favorite character is the film was Stella, played by Thelma Ritter. She was very frank and blunt with her dialogue. I enjoyed every time that she was onscreen.

The movie was very cheeky. There was a glimpse of a woman topless for an instant. She was facing away from the camera, of course, but was on celluloid. There was almost a suicide in it. I just wanted to point that out.

I have one gripe about this movie, Jimmy Stewart’s voice. I don’t know what it is. It sounded like he came back from the dentist.

My rating: ****1/2 stars.

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