George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story is a fascinating film, rewarding the viewer with each repeat viewing. The film is perhaps the quintessential remarriage comedy, the finest of a popular cycle of films produced in Hollywood during the 1930s and ‘40s that share certain formulaic narrative similarities. The Philadelphia Story contains some of the best acting performed by screen legends Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart (who won an Oscar for his performance). It reinvigorated Hepburn’s stalling career by turning a healthy profit and earning an Oscar nomination for the actress who had been recently labeled “box office poison” by the Independent Theatre Owners of America.
Tag: The Philadelphia Story
A lot can change in two years, something that Katharine Hepburn knew all too well.
In 1938, she starred in George Cukor’s HOLIDAY as a principled socialite rebelling against her wealthy family and their obnoxious credo, that “there’s no such thrill in the world as making money.” In fact, HOLIDAY capped off a string of financial disappointments for Hepburn that led the Independent Film Journal to call her “box office poison,” their term for a star whose rich studio contract was unjustified by her “negligible” public appeal. That same year, Hepburn would use those riches of hers to buy out her contract with RKO and leave Hollywood altogether. It wasn’t until 1940 that she returned, armed with the rights to THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and the conviction that nobody should star in it but herself. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY went on to become the one of the most popular films of 1940, reigniting Hepburn’s career and also confirming a proverb from within the film itself: “With the rich and mighty, always a little patience.”
The Philadelphia Story – 1940 – dir. George Cukor
There are few movie treasures as evergreen as The Philadelphia Story, few movie stars as everlasting as the incomparable Katharine Hepburn. Labeled “box office poison” by Hollywood after making a string of nascent hits followed by a string of stinking bombs, Hepburn fled to her native East Coast to lick her wounds and find solace on the stage, namely in Phillip Barry’s play, “The Philadelphia Story” which became a lucky theater penny for everyone involved, Great Kate most of all.
Hepburn had the savvy to buy full film rights to the vehicle, provided she play the lead. She saw the play as her ticket-to-ride back to Planet Stardom, a kingdom she was to rule over for the rest of her life.