© 1940 Loew's

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Philadelphia Story is a film that I have seen countless times, and enjoy it more every time. Why is it the prospect of watching a Sandra Bullock rom-com sends shivers up my spine, but I can watch this film over and over again and enjoy it just as much, even more, with each new viewing? I am not so sure it is simple nostalgia. Granted, the verbal gymnastics present in each and every line of dialogue, evoking the feel of the early ’40s, are a delight to listen to. A lot the enduring appeal of The Philadelphia Story must come down to the sheer charm of the performers. Katharine Hepburn is pitch perfect in a role that was quite literally written for her. Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant also seem to inhabit their roles, and even little Virginia Weidler is excellent as Dinah Lord, who sees the outcome of the weekend long before anyone else. Many of Jimmy Stewart’s best lines seem great coming from Jimmy Stewart, although I shudder to think of the possibility someone like, say, Tom Hanks reciting them in modern language. To wit: “Well, l made a funny discovery. In spite of the fact that somebody’s up from the bottom he can still be quite a heel,  and even though somebody else is born to the purple,  he can still be a very nice guy.” It sounds great coming from Stewart, but any actor today would sink in that much sentimentality.

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