The Philadelphia Story (1940)



Uncle Leo's bedtime story for you older tots! The things they do among the playful rich – Oh, boy! See »

When a rich woman\’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself. Full summary »

Genre: Comedy,Romance

The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Release Date: 26 December 1940 (USA)
Country: USA
Director: George Cukor
  • Cary Grant
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • James Stewart
  • Ruth Hussey
  • John Howard
  • Roland Young
  • John Halliday
  • Mary Nash
  • Virginia Weidler
  • Henry Daniell
  • Lionel Pape
  • Rex Evans

Incoming search terms

miss pomeroy 1926;farewell ethel barrymore i shall rip myself from your side;miss pomeroy 26;Miss Poneroy 1926;philadelphia story miss pomeroy 1926;

27 Responses to The Philadelphia Story (1940)

  1. tc71087
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    I think there’s feminism in this play/movie. Rather than having suitors choosing her, she chooses her suitor. "I don’t want to be worshiped, I want to be loved" is a very feminist line because not only does it equate her desire to be treated like an equal human being capable of respect and love, but also says "Don’t put me on a pedestal, I’m only human."

  2. historyinink
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    He was so mean to his daughter. And then trying to validate his cheating ways by telling his wife it has nothing to do with her, he just wants to feel young again. Ugh, whatever. I couldn’t stand him. He was so disrespectful and unsympathetic. But every good story has a villain of some sort. Other than that, I loved the other characters.

  3. netshopper-2
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    After watching several Katharine Hepburn films from this era, it seems to me that what was funny then is very different from today’s funny. I guess that a lot had to do with censorship and morality reviews of films but films like this were kind of silly and sweet, not really funny in the modern sense of films from the 1960s and beyond. Most of the plots drew laughs from being preposterous and goofy, not from sophisticated humor. There seemed to be a formulaic quality to them as well.

  4. jackboot
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    Okay, I’m trying to decipher what exactly is lying between the lines in a section of the dialogue with the hope of understanding whether there might be veiled or hidden meaning, draped in ambiguity, in order to satisfy the production code.

    The scene at the pool where Dexter appears and gives Tracy quite a dressing down over her thinking that she’s some kind of a Goddess, he uses a lot of very pointed language, such as "virgin goddess", "cold", "chaste" and "virginal". Not to mention the "’This citadel can and shall be taken, and l’m the boy to do it’" line.

    Was there some more specific allusion being hinted at by those passages? Could they possibly have never consummated their marriage? It seems hard to fathom, especially the way she reminisced about their honeymoon. Perhaps she became frigid when he became so "unattractive" after he developed his "deep and gorgeous thirst" for alcohol?

    Also, a couple of scenes later, when she is returning to the house, from the pool, she has a confrontation with her father where he admonishes her "But better that than a prig or a perennial spinster… however many marriages". Is he alluding to the possibility that she was never a wife to her husband? or that she could never stay married, no matter how many marriages she had?

    I can’t find anything to support this or deny it. Those particular passages are rather conspicuous for their use of such strong and marked language but, it seems hard to believe that they’d have enjoyed their honeymoon, aboard what was surely their namesake, the "True Love", and not have consummated their marriage.

    Also, if she were still a virgin, that would raise the stakes a few notches when Mike appears carrying Tracy back from the pool and Dexter asks, "is she hurt?" – the use of "hurt" I take it to mean as a code for asking whether she had been violated.

  5. Stacey618
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    You’ll all probably hate me for saying this, but, really, Mike treated her better and they were just so adorable together!

    Plus, Jimmy Stewart is much sexier than Carey Grant..

  6. isidro_garcia_15
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    As far as I am concerned, Jimmy didn’t deserve the Oscar mainly because there were better performances that year such as Laurence Olivier in Rebecca or especially Henry Fonda in The grapes of wrath. In addition, it wasn’t the best performance in the film because Katharine Hepburn and Ruth Hussey(who was amazing) were far better. Don’t get me wrong, I love James Stewart and he was quite good but he should have won for Mr.Smith goes to Washington or Anatomy of a murder and not for this film. However, I really liked this movie and it really deserved best adapted screenplay Oscar.

    This would have been my choices in the acting categories:

    Best actor- Henry Fonda-The grapes of wrath

    Best actress-Joan Fontaine-Rebecca(I don’t know how Ginger Rogers won)

    Best supporting actor-Walter Brennan-The foreigner

    Best supporting actress- It would have been difficult to choose because all were just amazing but perhaps Jane Darwell would have been my choice.

  7. pinkmuramui
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    After watching this movie probably fifty times over the past years, I have come to appreciate Liz more and more. Too often, her grace, patience, and sexiness are overlooked. At first I thought she was too cynical, but now I know she has a very idealistic center to trust Mike so much and keep loving him even when he’s immature and crazy. She never nags, and yet she can tell it like it is when she needs to. She loves to flirt and have fun and be flirted with, but she always stays classy and dignified –never trashy.

    So many times my friends and I have guy troubles and we end up considering Liz and what she would do.

    Of course every girl would love to be like Kate, but Liz is way underrated.

    "So they laughed and danced in the trees, and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think" ~The Hobbit

  8. dc_girl_7000
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    That is one of the cutest and funniest part in the movie, I love that whole scene. I loved the fact that Cary Grant tried to keep it together, even saying "exuse me" after Stewart’s first hiccup.

  9. rosecp01
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    I did.

  10. jfitzpatrick3
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    This is the only aspect of the movie that I don’t understand: everyone thinks he was such a bad guy. Why?

    "At the end of life, we will be judged by love" ST John of the Cross

  11. Mikaela90
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    First of all let me just say that this movie had the best cast EVER. Even if you put Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep in a movie you will still be far from achieving the level of acting and quality that these three actors have individually and even more so together.

    I’m just curious how old is the majority of the people who like this movie and also where they’re from.

    I’m 17 and I’m from Spain.

  12. laptow
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    Anyone have any thoughts as to what the grounds for Tracey’s divorce were? I got the impression that her inability to forgive or to be understanding of the moral weaknesses and failings of others might have meant that Dexter had been unfaithful to her as a result of her lack of responsiveness. If she continued in her marriage as a virgin, somewhat suggested by the dialogue, he might have become unfaithful to her. It was never clear to me why they divorced or whether Dexter or Tracey filed for the divorce. Dexter drank…maybe he was frustrated, but could that have been the sole grounds for the divorce?

  13. wildpeckinpah
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    Since I don’t see any on this board I’ll heap some flattery on Cukor for his excellent direction. He really knows how to set up his mis en scene.

    As one example, there’s a scene where Macauley is chatting with Margaret (I think) that is quite lengthy and when he departs the room the camera is set perfectly to catch him peeping back in from the edge of the frame. It was beautifully executed.

    I can’t think of a single film made in the past 20 years that uses such simple but effective camera framing because modern directors don’t need to plan out their staging thanks to MTV edits.

    So here’s to Cukor and his many wonderful films!

  14. boweasel
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    While I can certainly understand that the original best man for Tracy and Kittredge’s marriage would be unavailable for the same duties at Tracy and C.K’s wedding, what about her original maid of honor? Wouldn’t she presumably be Tracy’s best friend? And presumably still be there and available when she marries C.K?

    Instead she picks Liz? Whom she had just met the day before?

    I never felt anything odd about C.K. picking Connor for best man. After all C.K wasn’t supposed to be there, so he would hardly have had any friends at the wedding. And C.K. and Connor had seemed to bond over the course of the picture. But Tracy and Liz? I never sensed any bonding between their characters. In fact I always assumed that Tracy found Liz be be every bit annoying as I did…

    I always thought there should have been SOME explanation for that maid of honor thing. Or was there and I’ve just always missed it?

  15. OuranosSkyAir
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    Mike was such a fool NOT to go after that one!

    Not only was Liz drop dead gorgeous but she was very intelligent and had the best lines!

    And I know some of the Hepburn fans are going to flay me alive for saying this but Liz was hotter than Tracy.

    NO OFFENSE! I like Katharine Hepburn in this, but I just thought Liz was cooler than Tracy!

  16. Under-Z-aker
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    Actually I did not like the story. The way George got treated was really despicable.

    I really felt sorry for the old chap. I guess I’m the only one who rooted for him.

    Cannot standing the sight of Grant or Stewart might have a part to it.

    Hell Stewart made me actually like Grant for the first time.

    If it weren’t for Katherine Hepburn , the Goddess she is , I probably would have absolutely loathed this movie.

    I hate movies such as this where you simply cannot like any of the characters.

    Prestige is another example.

    It sucks when you expect so much more but only left with a bad taste …

    Ahhh … I guess I should watch it some more time and just admire divine Katherine.

    "In Kazakhstan we say it goes God, man, horse, dog, woman, rat and then little kretullis."

  17. Prom_Queen_Carrie
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    Anyone else LOVE the way Katharine Hepburn says this? I love the way she said it, and I thought that line summed up her character well also.

    "Farewell Ethel Barrymore, I must tear myself from your side" *rip*

  18. MarilynGraceBogart
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    The more I watch this movie the more I appreciate Liz. I think when you first watch it it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the greatness of Cary Grant, katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart but Ruth Hussey certainly holds her own against these screen legends. Everytime I watch I pay more and more attention to Liz, and she is very funny. Her line delievery and facial expressions are great =]Between her and Dinah and uncle Willie this movie has the best supporting characters!

    Anyways, my favorite Liz moments are as follows:

    MC: "You’re the darndest girl Liz!"

    LE: "…I Think I’m sweet."

    LE: "Where’s my wondering parakeet?"

    TSL: "Oh…are you two…going together?"

    LE: "Well…that is an…odd question!"

    TSL: "I don’t see why."

    "You’re cute."

    "I’m getting cuter every minute."

    Humphrey Bogart

  19. dvbar1
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    Finally saw this, all 3 leads at their best. Late 30’s early 40’s just have the best movies ever made.

  20. mannwithnoname
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    BUT, if it were remade for today – it would have to have George Clooney – the last movie star left, Cate Blanchett – who already is Katherine Hepburn, and Tom Hanks – today’s awshucks actor. Just putting that out there.

  21. Goosfrabah
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    This is one of my favorite classic Hollywood movies. I saw it listed on Wikipedia as one of the old black-and-white films that has been colorized. I know film purists are vehemently opposed to colorization of black-and-white movies, and in most cases I would agree. However, I would love to see The Philadelphia Story in color, if only to admire Hepburn’s lustrous locks (Her character’s pet name is "Red," after all).

    The only 2 versions of the DVD I can find are both in black-and-white…has the color version ever been officially released, or just shown on TV (on TCM or a similar station)?

  22. kinematoscope
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    Hey all- I’ve got a film blog ( a novel idea, I know- and I embarked on a quest to watch and write about (at some length), every film in the imdb top 250.

    The Philadelphia Story was entry number 226 (in reverse order). Just thought you might be interested in reading it: tml


  23. Anonymous
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    This message has been deleted by the poster

  24. jcredeems
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    Amongst critics it is praised as one of the best American movies ever. I personally thought it was just mediocre.

  25. lemma123
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    Towards the very end, right before the wedding scene, when George chastises Tracy for her behavior the night before. Tracy apologizes to Liz, and Liz says "it really wasn’t Tracy at all Mr Kittredge, it was a Miss Pomeroy 1926" then Tracy says to George “there are certain things about that other girl, that Miss Pomeroy ’26 that I really like”

    Anyone know to what this is referring?

  26. evangelinexkelly
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    I didn’t pay too much attention to the stage version of this film until I found an excerpt of it on Google Books. I must say that from reading that, I like it better than the film version. I’ve always enjoyed TPS, but found a few aspects of character development lacking, and a brief periods of plot holes–the play fills them in just nicely. But I’m actually more interested in the actors in the play-namely, Joseph Cotten as Dexter and Van Heflin as Mike. The more I see Van Heflin, the more I wished he was in the movie! He is great, and I sort of see a bit of his mannerisms and voice in Jimmy Stewart’s performance. Too bad he and Joe Cotten never got to be in the movie.

  27. critic-2
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    In the film, he is the publisher of "Spy Magazine", who sends Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey to Katharine Hepburn’s house to do a story on her, while Cary Grant tags alone. In the film he is played by Henry Daniell, who played Professor Moriarty to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes once. He was also the main villain in Errol Flynn’s "The Sea Hawk".

    But for anybody who has seen a stage production of "The Philadelphia Story"–does Sidney Kidd appear in the play? I have read a cast list for the stage version, in which the character is not included. And he never appears in the musical remake, "High Society".

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