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THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ~ NEWLY ENHANCED COLORIZED EDITION ~ (1940) ~ Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart


THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ~ NEWLY ENHANCED COLORIZED EDITION ~ (1940) ~ Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart


  • Cary Grant as C.K. Dexter Haven
  • Katharine Hepburn as Tracy Samantha Lord
  • James Stewart as Macaulay "Mike" Connor
  • Ruth Hussey as Elizabeth Imbrie
  • John Howard as George Kittredge
  • Roland Young as William Q. Tracy (Uncle Willie)
  • John Halliday as Seth Lord
  • Mary Nash as Margaret Lord
  • Virginia Weidler as Dinah Lord
  • Henry Daniell as Sidney Kidd
  • Lionel Pape as Edward, a footman
  • Rex Evans as Thomas, the butler
  • David Clyde as Mac, the night watchman


Philadelphia socialites Tracy Lord ( Katharine Hepburn ) and C.K. Dexter Haven ( Cary Grant ) married impulsively, with their marriage and subsequent divorce being equally passionate. They broke up when Dexter's drinking became excessive; it a mechanism to cope with Tracy's unforgiving manner to the imperfect, imperfections which Dexter admits he readily has.

Two years after their break-up, Tracy is about to remarry, the ceremony to take place at the Lord mansion. Tracy's bridegroom is nouveau riche businessman and aspiring politician George Kittredge ( John Howard ), who is otherwise a rather ordinary man and who idolizes Tracy.

The day before the wedding, three unexpected guests show up at the Lord mansion: Macaulay (Mike to his friends) Connor ( James Stewart ) -, Elizabeth Imbrie ( Ruth Hussey ) - the two who are friends of Tracy's absent brother, Junior - and Dexter himself. Dexter, an employee of the tabloid Spy magazine, made a deal with its publisher and editor Sidney Kidd to get a story on Tracy's wedding - the wedding of the year.


The film was shot in eight weeks, and required no retakes. During the scene where James Stewart hiccups when drunk, you can see Cary Grant looking down and grinning. Since the hiccup wasn't scripted, Grant was on the verge of breaking out laughing and had to compose himself quickly. James Stewart thought of hiccupping in the drunk scene himself, without telling Cary Grant. When he began hiccupping, Grant turned to Stewart saying, "Excuse me." The scene required only one take.

James Stewart never felt he deserved the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in this film, especially since he had initially felt miscast. He always maintained that Henry Fonda should have won instead for The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and that the award was probably "deferred payment for my work on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)".

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 James Stewart was cast instead. MGM chief Louis B. Mayer allowed Hepburn a $150,000 salary towards casting the other male role, a sum that Cary Grant agreed to.

Playwright Philip Barry based the character of Tracy on Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, a Main Line Philadelphia socialite famous for throwing lavish parties at her family's 800 acre farm estate in Radnor. Filmmakers reportedly intended to shoot the film at Ardrossan (the name of the families estate), but decided against it after seeing the size and scale of the main house and the expansiveness of the estate. They reportedly thought that no one would believe that anyone could actually live like that, particularly in America in the 1940s.

Katharine 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.

Although George Cukor was not usually a very physical director, Katharine Hepburn incorporated some of his mannerisms into her performance.

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.

Before shooting the scene where Connor passionately recites his poetry to Tracy, James Stewart was extremely nervous and certain he would perform badly. Coincidently, Noel Coward was visiting the set on that day and, having been asked to say something to encourage Stewart by George Cukor, Coward off-handedly said something to Stewart like, "Did I mention I think you're a fantastic actor." Stewart shortly thereafter performed the scene without a hitch and went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor.

The original play was written specifically for Katharine Hepburn. Playwright Philip Barry wanted to woo the actress back to the stage after she had received disastrous reviews for the play "The Lake" on Broadway.

Katharine Hepburn deferred her salary for 45% of the profits.

Some think, with director George Cukor on board, Katharine Hepburn's first choice of co-star, Clark Gable, was never going to be a possibility because Gable allegedly had Cukor fired from directing Gone with the Wind (1939) because Gable allegedly detested the director's obvious homosexuality. In reality, Cukor was dismissed from _Gone with the Wind (1939)_ because of repetitive clashes with producer David O. Selznick and Gable was simply busy with other projects at the time the The Philadelphia Story was being made.

Cary Grant demanded top billing and $100,000 salary - a huge amount at the time. As it transpired though, he donated his entire earnings to the British War Relief Fund.

On Broadway, Katharine Hepburn played opposite Joseph Cotten (in the role played by Cary Grant in the film), Van Heflin (the James Stewart role) and Shirley Booth (the Ruth Hussey role). Anne Baxter played the younger sister. The play ran for 415 performances, making nearly $1 million at the box office. It then went on tour for another 250 performances and an additional $750,000 in box-office receipts.

Played Radio City Music Hall for 6 weeks, breaking the previous attendance records set in 1937 by Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It grossed over $600,000 in that one location alone.

Katharine Hepburn's swimming pool dive is the real thing. No doubles were used.

In his autobiography, Donald Ogden Stewart wrote that the original play was so perfect, adapting it was the easiest job he ever had to do in Hollywood.

Cary Grant was given the choice of which of the two male lead roles he wanted to play. Surprisingly, he chose the less showy part.

James Stewart wasn't at all comfortable with some of the dialog, especially in the swimming pool scene, which also required him to act in a dressing gown. He said at the time that if he'd played the scene in just a swimming costume it would have been the end of his career.

The necklace that Dinah says "this stinks" about and later wears to entertain the reporters, is a copy of the necklace from Marie Antoinette's "The Affair of the Necklace". You can see it in Norma Shearer's Marie Antoinette (1938 ), as well.

[June 2008] Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Romantic Comedy".

The original play featured a character named Sandy, who is Tracy's brother and the reason for Mike and Liz to come to the wedding. This character was deleted for the movie in order to beef up the character of Mike. There are several references in the film to a brother of Tracy's, but his name is Junius.

The word "Philadelphia" on the Oscar that James Stewart received in 1941 is misspelled. The Oscar was kept in the window of his father's hardware store located on Philadelphia Street in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Spencer Tracy turned down James Stewart's role in The Philadelphia Story (1940) because he was eager to make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941).

Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on July 20, 1942 with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey and Virginia Weidler reprising their film roles.

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 17, 1947 with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart reprising their film roles.

"Theater Guild on the Air" broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 4, 1948 with James Stewart reprising his film role.

The original Broadway production of "The Philadelphia Story" by Philip Barry Jr. opened at the Shubert Theater on March 28, 1939, ran for 417 performances, closed on March 30, 1940 and starred Katharine Hepburn, Shirley Booth, Joseph Cotten and Hayden Rorke.

In Hepburn's first scene in the film, she appears in a stylish trouser suit designed for her by Adrian. L.B. Mayer objected and had to be convinced to let the costume remain.

Year(s): 12.26.40

Format: DVD

Run time: 113m

Country: USA

Language: English

B&W / Color: Colorized

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