The Wedding Turmoil Critical Thinkings Example
Shot in 1940, the romantic comedy “The Philadelphia Story” by George Cukor is based on the Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry. The fine lady played by the fabulous Katharine Hepburn is going to get married for the second time but everything ruins from the moment her ex-husband and two journalists arrive. Through the complicated mix of feelings and relationships, the author explores the conflicts of class, education, and politics.
In the opening scene, the spectator observes the locations and scenes of the Lord family mansion thus imagining that the family is incredibly rich and its members belong to the upper-class society. They value the grand and expensive possessions: jewellery, silver cutlery, and expensive clothes. The material part of life plays the major part in the everyday activities of the Lords. In spite of the fact that the film is black and white, the audience easily imagines how colorful and sparkling their life is. The extreme wealth of the family is highlighted both visually and through dialogues.
The character of Tracy Lord was inspired by Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, one of Philadelphia socialites. When the viewer first sees Tracy, she reminds of a pert miss who is equal with a man who leaves her. But in the scene two years later, she is more of a self assured spoiled lady who criticizes the gifts sent for a wedding by their values. Her personality is demonstrated as a capricious, a bit of a haughty young woman who at a height of her conceit is very demandable of people she is dealing with – she cannot stand her husband’s weaknesses and they divorce for that reason. Tracy draws a parallel between her and some goddess so she does admit she ranks. She is stern and sarcastic, and her beauty and charisma don’t let people disobey her.
The character of Dexter Haven played by Cary Grant is a handsome young man whom the audience perceives as a person who in spite of his leaving is the only one who is able to manage the wayward Tracy (the opening scene shows their stormy but at the same time equal relationships). Dexter’s eyes reveal his love to Tracy but he carries himself with dignity and does not intrude into her relationships with her future husband George Kittredge as well as a one-night lover Macaulay Connor. Dexter always stands aside and watches but in a happy hour, he happens to be near Tracy and they get married again. He is the only man who does not praise her to the skies but sincerely loves her with all her faults.
Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie are the representatives of the middle class working in the publishing house. The reporter and the photographer are a couple – the audience sees the hardships of the working class life in their poses and utterances. Liz loves Mike and wants to get married; she is more loyal to the undignified work she will have to do; she appreciates her work and does not want to lose it. Mike, in his turn, does not want to marry Liz; he has a complex of the unrecognized genius; he has manners and dignity. Mike’s particular posture and pace reveal the introverted uncertain man.
The comedy allows the audience to learn a lot about the characters visually – the personages are bright and memorable. The director paid a lot of attention to their clothes in order to underline their origin and occupation. The costume changes for the female actors are particularly important – Tracy’s beautiful long dresses contrast with Liz’s temperate formal suits. The rich women in the movie (Tracy and her mother) often change dresses thus demonstrating their quantity and the way the appearance is important in the family. The outfit of the characters reveals their way of life and the money they have.
“The Philadelphia Story” is a film that raises important topics through humour and jokes. The prejudices about the upper and the middle class is a theme revealed by the relationships of Tracy and Mike. He who thought Tracy was a typical nasty rich woman falls in love with her beautiful inner power and the splendor of the goddess she spreads. Tracy, in her turn, thought little of the profession of the reporter as well as the frustrated writer. She thought Mike was not able to express the winged sentiments, and they were unequal, but that night when they finally got to know each other, she fell in love with him for a moment. In spite of his origin and occupation, he was much loftier than her potential husband George, he appreciated Trace’s such qualities George never even saw. Tracy and Mike could be a couple but the power of characters was still unequal and their only common point would be the final mutual understanding and breaking the former prejudices.
What I liked in the film most is the combination of the genius acting of the cinema stars together with the dynamic development of the action. Though the plot is rather simple (the couple divorces but then remarries again) and was very popular in the 30’s and 40’s, it is always a pleasure to laugh and relax while viewing the well shot qualitative film. The humour of “The Philadelphia Story” is subtle and never vulgar which makes him stand aside from the contemporary comedies about couples.
I liked the director’s positive attitude to the extravagance of the rich people and the way he depicted their (namely, Tracy’s) true nature. The audience gets a pleasant aftertaste of the film and a good mood for the whole day.
Cukor, George, dir. The Philadelphia Story. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1940. Film.