The Philadelphia Story (1941)

112 mins | Romantic comedy | 17 January 1941

Director:

George Cukor

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a news item in HR , Clark Gable was originally to have played the role of "C. K. Dexter Haven." Another item in HR states that the film was completed five days under schedule. The Var review notes that in order to avoid competition with the stage play, M-G-M agreed not to put the film into general release until Jan 1941, although it was screened at selected theaters in Dec 1940. Hepburn revised the role she starred in on Broadway. James Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart won the award for Best Screenplay for their work on this film. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Hussey) and Best Direction (George Cukor).
       In an interview, Cukor confirmed that Katharine Hepburn, who was considered "box office poison" at the time, had purchased the screen rights to the play, which was written with her in mind, in hopes of reviving her flagging film career. As hoped, the film's success revitalized Hepburn's standing in Hollywood. According to modern sources, because she had purchased the screen rights before the play opened, she was able to choose her director and co-stars. In 1942, the Lux Radio Theatre presented Philip Barry's play featuring the film's stars, and in 1943, presented another version starring Robert Taylor, Loretta Young and Robert Young. In 1956, Charles Walter directed Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in High Society , M-G-M's musical version of the Barry ... More Less

According to a news item in HR , Clark Gable was originally to have played the role of "C. K. Dexter Haven." Another item in HR states that the film was completed five days under schedule. The Var review notes that in order to avoid competition with the stage play, M-G-M agreed not to put the film into general release until Jan 1941, although it was screened at selected theaters in Dec 1940. Hepburn revised the role she starred in on Broadway. James Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart won the award for Best Screenplay for their work on this film. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Hussey) and Best Direction (George Cukor).
       In an interview, Cukor confirmed that Katharine Hepburn, who was considered "box office poison" at the time, had purchased the screen rights to the play, which was written with her in mind, in hopes of reviving her flagging film career. As hoped, the film's success revitalized Hepburn's standing in Hollywood. According to modern sources, because she had purchased the screen rights before the play opened, she was able to choose her director and co-stars. In 1942, the Lux Radio Theatre presented Philip Barry's play featuring the film's stars, and in 1943, presented another version starring Robert Taylor, Loretta Young and Robert Young. In 1956, Charles Walter directed Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in High Society , M-G-M's musical version of the Barry play. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Dec 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Nov 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 40
pp. 12-13.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 40
p. 1.
Life
6 Jan 41
pp. 31-32.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Nov 40
p. 36.
New York Times
27 Dec 40
p. 22.
Variety
27 Nov 40
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry (New York, 28 Mar 1939).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 January 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 27 December 1940
Production Date:
early July--14 August 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 November 1940
Copyright Number:
LP10102
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
112
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6594
SYNOPSIS

The wealth and position of the socially prominent Lord family of Philadelphia has made Tracy, the eldest daughter, into an imperious and haughty shrew. Tracy's attitude causes a marital rift with her childhood sweetheart, sportsman and recovering alcoholic C. K. Dexter Haven, leading to a divorce. Two years later, Tracy is poised to wed the pompous and politically ambitious self-made man George Kittredge when Dexter returns from an extended absence accompanied by scandal sheet reporters Macaulay "Mike" Connor and Elizabeth Imbrie. Because Sidney Kidd, the powerful publisher of the scandal magazine Spy , has embarassing information on Tracy's father Seth's affair with a dancer, Dexter agrees to allow Mike and Liz access to Tracy's wedding in exchange for not printing the story on Seth. Although Dexter introduces Mike and Liz as old friends of Tracy's brother Junius, who is living in South America, Tracy realizes that Mike and Liz are reporters. She allows them to stay, however, and puts on an exaggerated performance of a society girl for them when Dexter tells her about Kidd. Tracy is angry at Dexter for coming back after two years, but her mother Margaret and sister Dinah are delighted at his presence, complicating Tracy's attempts to have a dignified wedding. Because Tracy is angry at her father for his affair and doesn't expect him at the wedding, she pretends that her uncle Willie is her father, hoping to make Mike and Liz think that everyone is happy. Though she at first has nothing but contempt for Mike, she gradually comes to admire him when she finds a book of poetry he has written ... +


The wealth and position of the socially prominent Lord family of Philadelphia has made Tracy, the eldest daughter, into an imperious and haughty shrew. Tracy's attitude causes a marital rift with her childhood sweetheart, sportsman and recovering alcoholic C. K. Dexter Haven, leading to a divorce. Two years later, Tracy is poised to wed the pompous and politically ambitious self-made man George Kittredge when Dexter returns from an extended absence accompanied by scandal sheet reporters Macaulay "Mike" Connor and Elizabeth Imbrie. Because Sidney Kidd, the powerful publisher of the scandal magazine Spy , has embarassing information on Tracy's father Seth's affair with a dancer, Dexter agrees to allow Mike and Liz access to Tracy's wedding in exchange for not printing the story on Seth. Although Dexter introduces Mike and Liz as old friends of Tracy's brother Junius, who is living in South America, Tracy realizes that Mike and Liz are reporters. She allows them to stay, however, and puts on an exaggerated performance of a society girl for them when Dexter tells her about Kidd. Tracy is angry at Dexter for coming back after two years, but her mother Margaret and sister Dinah are delighted at his presence, complicating Tracy's attempts to have a dignified wedding. Because Tracy is angry at her father for his affair and doesn't expect him at the wedding, she pretends that her uncle Willie is her father, hoping to make Mike and Liz think that everyone is happy. Though she at first has nothing but contempt for Mike, she gradually comes to admire him when she finds a book of poetry he has written at the local public library. Mike, too, comes to admire Tracy, whom he realizes is more than just a superficial society girl. Liz, who thinks that Tracy and Dexter are still in love, begins to get jealous when she realizes that Mike is starting to fall for Tracy. When Seth unexpectedly returns home and Margaret is happy to see him, Tracy chastises them. Seth then lectures her about her heartlessness, as does Dexter, who gives her a model of the yacht they used for their honeymoon, The True Love , as a wedding present. Confused and hurt over things that Seth and Dexter have said to her, Tracy becomes very drunk at her engagement party and starts kissing Mike after a middle-of-the-night swim at home. The next morning, a very hung over Tracy doesn't seem to remember what happened the night before, but as Dinah and the others start to remind her, she becomes even more confused. When Dexter and Kittredge arrive and Kittridge's pompous reaction to Tracy's seeming indiscretion the night before is revealed, Tracy realizes that she doesn't love him, and Kittridge leaves. The guests have gathered for the wedding, however, and the entire family is waiting for Tracy to do something. As the orchestra plays the strings of the wedding march, Dexter advises Tracy on what to say to the guests and, as he feeds her the lines, she tells them that they were cheated out of seeing her marry Dexter the first time, but they will be able to see her marry him this time. Now realizing that Dexter is proposing, Tracy happily accompanies him down the aisle. Harmony seems to be restored in the Lord household until a flashbulb pops and the bride and groom are surprised by a photographer and Kidd places their picture in the next issue of Spy . +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.