#250: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

uth Hussey, James Stewart, Carey Grant, Katharine Hepburn: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Thank god this film was worth it, because just getting to the point of watching it consisted of me and a HMV worker – big up, Darren – searching for twenty minutes before I gave up on him asking me if  I meant ‘A Cinderella Story’ and just turned to the internet and illegality in my time of need.

The basics: Wikipedia describes the plot as being ‘about a socialite (Hepburn) whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband (Grant) and a tabloid magazine journalist (Stewart)’. Dirty! Oh, there’s also something about intrusion and privacy from the media and blackmail with some guy but I’ve already genuinely forgotten it, it’s such a back story. So The Philadelphia Story is nothing if not a good startIt promises Carey Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart with mad-cap antics, other old-style phrases and a love triangle. It has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1 on IMDB. It’s black and white with handsome old-time Hollywood movie stars and jazzy piano music – that just screams classic. I’m all over it.

And now, after watching it, all I can say is: IMDB, what?! How is this #250? To put this in perspective, THE INCREDIBLES is beating The Philadelphia Story, and someone needs to figure out how that’s possible because this is amazing. My attention was first caught when literally within the first minute, Hepburn kicks Grant out by breaking all his shit and he casually shoves her to the floor. By the face. The poised, Katharine Hepburn. Did not see that coming. You and I may think ‘domestic violence? Not really that much of a lark’ but it’s all to that jazzy comical tune so apparently it is, stop being so boring, go along with it.

The Philadelphia Story

I was not kidding.

Anyway at some points (clearly it was mixed there), this film and feminism go hand in hand – the women are all intelligent, sassy as hell with great one-liners and high standards, kicking out their husbands with incredible coolness. Then they kind of remember it was 1940 and the men come back into play, telling women that they wouldn’t cheat if only they could understand that wives and daughters should be more devoted to them to make them feel young, and that Katharine Hepburn shouldn’t have kicked Carey Grant out just for being an alcoholic given that it was probably her fault anyway – what high standards she has! Fuck her, seriously. Except not.

But whatever – this film is hilarious and easy to watch without feeling too dated, and it’s better than most rom-com dramas you’ll find today (yes, including ‘A Cinderella Story’, Darren).  The characters are great, the relationships are unforced and believable and it’s not slow. In other words, poor Jennifer Aniston would not pick a good film like this to star in to save her life at the moment (call me Jen), but luckily it brought Katharine Hepburn back.


  • James Stewart as the best drunk ever.
  • The fact that the words ‘doggone it’ are used more than once.
  • How beautiful and fantastic an actress is Katharine Hepburn? Seriously. Girl crush.
  • All the snarky comments from the women during the feminism moments.
  • Hepburn and Stewart’s sexy romance – also amusingly how offended she is when she finds out he didn’t take advantage of her when she was off her face – ‘Wasn’t I attractive enough?’ Excellent.
  • Watching them all deal with hangovers. Especially if you have a hangover.
  • The child sister. They’re always annoying in films, and this one is a prize bitch, for some reason taking absolute delight in the time when her sister was pushed to the floor by her face by her ex-husband who she just adores. Her genuine line: ‘Oh, please mother, maybe he’s going to sock her again!’ Alright, psycho. Stay away from the kitchen knives.
  • About the last 5 minutes.

James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn: The Philadelphia Story

8.5/10 – one and a half marks knocked off for the fact that (SPOILER ALERT) in those last, let-down five minutes she inexplicably  remarries Carey Grant (sort of went against the striking a blow for women everywhere thing and kind of more for ‘striking women’) and that annoying child who GETS HER WAY. Clever that she went against the whirlwind romance wedding I suppose, but to be honest I wanted that sappy Hollywood ending of a marriage to adorable James Stewart. We spent the whole part of the film watching their relationship to develop and hearing about Grant’s shitty ways so that I hadn’t a fuck to give about their relationship by the end of it. Shame. Still, well worth watching and I’d definitely say it was a classic – recommend. So go, watch it, and tell me what you think.


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