The Philadelphia Story ★★★

This has been on my radar for ages, though I knew only the title and that it was held in high esteem. I've become a fan of James Stewart's screen work in the last few years so when I came across this on DVD at the Oldham County Public Library on Saturday and discovered he was in it, that cinched it.

It's a good thing he was in it, too, or I'd have been entirely let down. The opening suggests that this is going to be a contrived romcom, but I was pleasantly surprised that the characters themselves dispense with the contrivances early. I wish that happened more regularly. There's some snappy dialog, in that rapid fire style of yesteryear, that's entertaining and the cast has pretty good chemistry.

Unfortunately, I just never really cared about any of the characters. As a feminist, I was a bit put off by the whole story centering on putting the haughty Tracy in her place, though I think there's enough dialog to make the case that her growth is a character arc and not meant to be a generalization about all women. I'll also give the story credit for making clear that she rejects and resents being placed on a pedestal as a trophy wife, relegated to being worshiped but not truly loved.

The highlight, by far, was the entire section from the pre-wedding party up through the end of that night. Manic, drunken James Stewart was a whirlwind of energy and amusement and I got a big kick out of that. It wasn't enough to make The Philadelphia Story an instant favorite film, but it was a very entertaining performance.

How The Philadelphia Story Entered My Flickchart

The Philadelphia Story < Kinsey --> #1483
Though I wish Kinsey delved further into its subject content, it's still fairly satisfying as is. I was disappointed by The Philadelphia Story, the delightful James Stewart performance notwithstanding.

The Philadelphia Story > Addams Family Values --> #1120
The Philadelphia Story's actual story didn't do much for me, but the chemistry of the cast was great, enough to tip the scales here.

The Philadelphia Story > Dreams on Spec --> #934
Content-wise, I was more interested by Dreams on Spec, but the writer doc lacked one key element: manic, drunken James Stewart.

The Philadelphia Story > The Mummy (1932) --> #840
The Mummy is one of the few Universal Monsters pictures that disappointed me. I wasn't particularly enamored with The Philadelphia Story, but I enjoyed it enough to pick it here.

The Philadelphia Story < The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King --> #840
The Return of the King wasn't as satisfying for me as The Two Towers, but it was certainly more satisfying than The Philadelphia Story.

The Philadelphia Story > Thor --> #781
I just wasn't into Thor. I wasn't as taken with The Philadelphia Story as I'd hoped I would be, but there's more than enough to enjoy for it to win this match.

The Philadelphia Story > The Wrestler --> #776
Story-wise, I'd give the nod to The Wrestler. Acting-wise, I gotta go with The Philadelphia Story for the chemistry among its ensemble. Chemistry > story this time.

The Philadelphia Story < Aliens --> #776
It's a shame James Stewart wasn't in Aliens as a drunk with manic energy. Then that movie would be perfect. As it is, though, it's still solid and suspenseful enough to win against the thin romcom.

The Philadelphia Story entered my Flickchart at #776/1493