Philadephia Story

The cinema in the centre of Palo Alto, The Stanford, has recently reopened after a 3 month refurbishment. It’s a great little cinema, with original features now restored, and has a working Wurlitzer organ which is used before and after performances, and is also used to provide music when they screen silent films.

I am looking forward to many films in the programme for the next couple of months, but one of my favourites came up in the first week – The Philadelphia Story. In case you don’t already know (and check the link for more details), this comedy stars Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart and Cary Grant – you could not wish for a more wonderful cast.

I won’t rehash the story here – you’ll just have to go and watch it yourselves – but a few things struck me about it when I was re-watching it in the cinema. The first was that the dialogue was so sharp and fast – it was the sort of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it repartee that you very seldom see now. The best current parallel I can think of is The Simpsons at it’s best: so filled with jokes and current affairs references that you’re lucky if you can catch them all in one viewing.

The other thing that struck me about the film was how ambiguous the plot was. You have 3 people vying for the heroine’s affection, and while one is obviously unsuitable, the remaining two (Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, of course) both have their wonderful moments as well as their faults. Every time I watch, I wait to see who she’ll pick. I can think of very few modern romantic comedies that you can say that about.

And my favourite part? Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn getting drunk and more drunk…

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