High Society

Released:  1956

Cast:  Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, John Lund, Louis Armstrong

Oscar Nominations:  Best Music, Original Song (“True Love” – Cole Porter), Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Johnny Green, Saul Chaplin)

SUMMARY:  Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) is about to marry her second husband, George Kittredge (John Lund).  As Tracy’s father, Seth Lord, is a celebrity recently involved in some questionable behavior, and because of the family’s wealth, reporters have shown up to cover the wedding.  Tracy, who does not want the reporters there, decides to give them a show they will never forget; her younger sister Caroline overhears, and decides to also play up to the reporters.  Meanwhile, Tracy’s next-door neighbor, C.K. “Dexter” Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) has returned home.  There is a jazz contest being held nearby, and Dexter has opened his home to some of the musicians (much to Tracy’s annoyance) – Louis Armstrong and his band (Louis Armstrong).  Dexter also happens to be Tracy’s first husband, and the relationship between the two is strained.  When the reporters, Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) arrive, they are greeted by a wild performance from Caroline, who dances everywhere and frequently lapses into French.  They are rescued by Tracy, who gets rid of Caroline but continues with basically the same charade.  She continuously insults the reporters, disguising it with pretty language.  She further confuses them when her estranged father shows up:  she introduces her Uncle Willie as her father, and her father as Uncle Willie.

At the party held the night before the wedding, Tracy has too much to drink, and George makes her leave the party to lie down.  She escapes, and meets up with Mike, who is also drunk.  The encounter finds both of them declaring their love for each other, but ends when they fall into the pool; Mike carries Tracy back to the house, past George and Dexter, before passing out on the floor.  While this was happening, Dexter had a talk to Liz, and she admitted that she loved Mike.  On the wedding day, Tracy and Mike both wake up with hangovers.  While Mike remembers what happened the night before, Tracy does not.  Based on hints from others, she assumed that she had an affair with Mike the night before.  George also assumes this, and is furious; he threatens to not go through with the wedding.  Mike is able to clear things up, but Tracy realizes that she does not really want to marry George.  When she goes to dismiss the wedding guests, Dexter stops her, suggesting that they get remarried instead.  Tracy happily agrees, and Liz finally confesses her feelings to Mike, who feels the same way about her.

MY TAKE:  This is a remake of The Philadelphia Story, which starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart.  On the surface, this seems like a really bad choice for a remake.  However, this movie is a remake, and boasts a star cast of its own.  When a movie opens with Louis Armstrong singing on a bus, you know it’s going to be good.  It’s also got two of the greatest singers ever, in Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.  To add star power and glamor, Grace Kelly and Celeste Holm join in (this was actually Grace Kelly’s last movie before marrying Monaco’s Prince Rainier).  It’s different but amusing to see Grace Kelly playing a character who is frequently flapped, and obviously drunk at one time.  The movie itself is pretty funny, particularly Tracy’s sister Caroline and the reporters.  Add the music of Cole Porter to this mix, and it’s a great time.

RATING:  Funny, with great music.


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