If I were to present the readers with a gist of the 1940 movie The Philadelphia Story then the above three sentences would suffice. Without digressing any further let me clue you in to the plot of my most recent watch.
Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is a rich Main Line Philadelphia heiress who divorced her equally wealthy ex-husband and childhood friend C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) on grounds of alcoholism. She is all set to marry the nouveau riche George Kittredge (John Howard) and enter into a new life. But there's a minor setback to her plans as two Spy magazine reporters Macaulay "Mike" Connor (James Stewart) and Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) pose as friends of her brother Junius to cover the wedding in detail. However Tracy is not deceived and reluctantly agrees to let them stay after Dexter informs her that the Spy magazine editor Sidney Kidd has a scandalous article on her father Seth whom she believes has an affair with a dancer. Much to Tracy's chagrin both her mother Margaret and teenage sister Dinah welcome Dexter with open arms and to add to the mess she finds herself torn between her ex-husband, fiance and the reporter Mike.
To be honest the movie doesn't have much to offer in terms of the central plot or story but fabulous performances by stalwarts like Hepburn, Grant and Stewart, rich dialogues laden with wit and sarcasm and classy one-liners will keep you engrossed from beginning till end.
Sample this :-
Tracy : Did you enjoy the party?Contrary to popular perception I'd say this movie did not seem anything like a romantic comedy to me. For a woman torn between three men in her life...it's impossible to say with conviction that she is genuinely in love with any one of them. And the choice she makes at the very end appears to have been made more in accordance with the situation rather than for any other reason.
Mike : Sure. Sure. The prettiest sight in this fine, pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges.
I'm not remotely proud of this confession but I'm usually the one who always roots for the female protagonist under all circumstances. But despite that I can't get myself to feel any empathy towards Tracy Lord or her dilemma. She considers herself to be the epitome of perfection and yet commits a blunder by kissing another man in a bout of drunken stupor on the eve of her wedding. Furthermore she refuses to recall what happened the previous night on the morning of her wedding when her ex-husband, sister and even her fiance had witnessed everything that had happened. She even keeps on treating her loving ex-husband quite harshly till the very end even when he is the one covering up for all her gaffes.
That's why I'll remember Tracy Lord not for being a woman of character but for being an opportunist.
Compared to Tracy the characters of Dinah, who strongly disapproves of her elder sister marrying Kittredge, and Liz, the photographer smitten with Mike, will remain more memorable.
Final thoughts on the movie : Cary Grant is (appropriately, was) hot . And Katharine Hepburn not as beautiful and charming as Audrey Hepburn. (fans not to murder me after this, please)
If you're one who admires classics, go watch it now.