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The Philadelphia Story

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 romantic screwball comedy starring James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. more...

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Based on the play of the same name by Philip Barry, the film is about a bride-to-be whose plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her cynical but romantic ex-husband (Grant), and a cynical but romantic journalist (Stewart). The film co-starred Ruth Hussey, Mary Nash, Roland Young, Virginia Weidler and Henry Daniell. It was remade in 2005 at the Old Vic in London, directed by Kevin Spacey.


The film was based on a play of the same title by Philip Barry in which Hepburn had also starred. Billionaire playboy Howard Hughes (who at one time had been Hepburn's lover) loaned Hepburn the money to purchase the rights to the play, which she turned into a film. Hepburn initially wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the male leads but they were not available.

The film version removed the character of Tracy's married brother Alexander (Sandy) Lord, who plays a central role in the play, and his lines were shared between Haven and Connor.


Tracy Samantha Lord (Hepburn), is a wealthy Philadelphian socialite who divorces her husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant), and is about to marry newly-wealthy George Kittredge (John Howard). However, their wedding preparations are interrupted by tabloid reporters, Macaulay Connor (Stewart) and Elizabeth Imbrie (Hussey) seeking an exclusive wedding story. In exchange for letting Spy Magazine write a piece about the wedding, the magazine agrees not to run a piece it had planned to write about Tracy's father's philandering ways. As the wedding nears, and somewhat under the influence of alcohol after a party, Tracy finds herself torn between the affections of Macaulay, Dexter and George.


  • The song Dinah Lord sings at the piano is Lydia the Tattooed Lady
  • In a scene with Cary Grant, Stewart improvised having the hiccups as his character was drunk.

Awards and honors

The film won Academy Awards for James Stewart (Best Actor), and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart (Best Adapted Screenplay). It also received Academy Award nominations for George Cukor (Best Director) Katharine Hepburn (Best Actress), Ruth Hussey (Best Supporting Actress), and Best Picture (Joseph L. Mankiewicz - producer).

The film was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It was remade in 1956 as a musical titled High Society.


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