The Philadelphia Story ★★★½

A red goddess
Turns into a human being
Through a Midsummer Night's Swim.
True Love vs. Easy Virtue.

Cukor’s most canonical picture for all the deserved reasons: Grant, Stewart, and Hepburn all acting the hell out of each other, with plenty of twisted supporting roles to fill this into a cornucopia of energy bouncing off each other. It’s a very funny film, filled with Shakespearean motifs about: crossed pairings, betrayals, role-playing, and even heading into the forest (you can read up on this all in Stanley Cavell’s canonical essay). Where I might be a little lost, and please chide me for being wrong, is that this feels like one of Cukor’s more “theatrical” features. His camera is less didactic than in his 1950s work, presenting characters in flatter two and three shots, or at least less noticeable directing in the camera than more letting the actors run their various voices and gestures do the work for them (great pauses like when Stewart is chided by the butler for almost stealing in a long awkward pause). I enjoyed this a lot for its dialogue and performances, but will have to revisit some time to pick up on his directional cues better (which are much more pronounced to me in something like The Women).

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