Director: George Cukor
Katharine Hepburn (Tracy Lord)
Cary Grant (C. K. Dexter Haven)
James Stewart (Macaulay Connor)
Ruth Hussey (Elizabeth Imbrie)
John Howard (George Kitredge)
I was dying to see this film again, I more or less remembered the plot, but my memory wasn’t capable of recalling many of the small details that amused me as I watched it anew.
In my humble opinion, I doubt that there will ever be another romantic comedy better made than this. When the war was on the brink of converting into a World War, when the Americans were living a surreal dream, when everything was going well whilst the world was collapsing, Cukor arrived. He arrived along with his elegant, exclusive and delicious way of making this comedy, and allowed us to follow them submerged in this “surreal reality” where everything is marvellous (despite the fact that the patriarchs are divorced), glamorous (despite the two journalist’s rough ways), elegant (despite Dinah’s impolite behavior) and politically correct (despite the drinking scene).
Katharine Hepburn is magnificent, with her natural elegance and an Oscar-worthy wardrobe that captures all her feminine charms. She is found surrounded by men hounding her, whilst a very intelligent Cary Grant patiently waits for the moment to pounce, in order to recover the woman he loves.
One day I would love to write about Adrian Adolph Greenburg, the creator of all Katherine’s costumes, and without whom the actress’s charms would not have been so clearly visible in every single scene. The costumes are exquisite.
I think that the great merit of this film’s script is that you don’t know what Katherine Hepburn is going to do until the end. Will she marry Kitredge? Will she run away with the journalist with whom she has a romance the night before the wedding? Or will she return to this snake charmer that is Cary Grant?
It isn’t a love triangle. It is a chant for adventure, love, and unruliness, but done with the elegance that Hollywood imprinted on its movies.
Hayes received thousands of criticisms for the code on the part of the Hollywood script writers, producers, directors and actors, however, they made the films intelligently in the end, getting their minds around it so that the spectators could actually understand what they were not able to visibly see. It was one way of making cinema that made apparent what the whole world knew and criticised under cover.
This films is one of ten comedies that you cannot miss if you, like me, love classic romantic cinema.
Which one of her suitors would you have chosen? I have never doubted it for a second…
- James Stewart for Best Supporting Actor.
- Best Adapted Script.
- Nominated for Best Film, Best Actress and Best Director.
- Awarded in 1995 by the National Film Preservation Board.
- Katharine Hepburn was awarded in 1940 by the National Film Critics Circle Awards. Second place for Best Film.
- James Stewart always thought that his acting wasn’t very good and that the Oscar should have been given to Henry Fonda.
- The movie was filmed in only eight weeks and didn’t need retakes.
- Katharine Hepburn possessed the rights to the film, of which she had already performed in the theatre. Howard Hughes had previously owned the rights and he had presented them to her as a gift.
- Katharine Hepburn wanted Clark Gable to play Cary Grant’s role and Spencer Tracy to play James Stewart’s role (in this case he would have done a supreme job), however, they were tied up already with other projects.
- The film’s script was written and thought up for Katharine Hepburn.
- Cary Grant received a wage of 100,000 – an enormous sum at the time – he donated it all to the British War Aid Fund (we are in 1940 and Cary Grant was English).
- Katherine Hepburn’s diving scene is real, no doubles were used.
- Cary Grant was allowed to choose which of the two main parts he preferred to play. He chose the less ostentatious one (something rather logical given the actor’s quality. N.d.a).
- James Stewart was so uncomfortable in the swimming pool scene that he was set on wearing a robe. According to him, if he would have gone out in his swimming trunks, it would have signalled the end of his career.
- The necklace about which Dinah (the young girl) says “this stinks”, is a copy of the necklace used in the film Marie Antoinette starring Norma Shearer.
- The film is in fifth place of the best romantic comedies of all time according to The American Film Institute.
- Years later a musical was made based on the same film, High Society, in which Gracy Kelly plays Tracy, Frank Sinatra plays a journalist and Bing Crosby plays C. K. Dexter Haven. It was a real bungle in my opinion, despite all the actors and actresses in the cast (even Louis Armstrong appears).
I leave a few memorable scenes: