21 April 2005 | gftbiloxi
Mildy Pleasant Musical Remake Of A Classic Film
Tracy Lord is a society woman with an inflexible sense of propriety: not only has she divorced her socially liberal first husband C.K. Dexter-Haven, she has forced her mother to separate from her father over the latter's questionable behavior with a chorus girl. Now she plans to marry George Kittredge, a social climber with a sense of propriety as inflexible as her own--only to find her wedding suddenly beset by her first husband, two pesky reporters, the possibility of a paternal scandal, and a local jazz fest.
If all this sounds a bit familiar, it should be no surprise. Originally written for the stage by Philip Barry under the title THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, it proved a smash hit during the 1940s on both stage and screen, and this remake follows the original very closely, only fiddling with the story and characters to the extent of introducing and rationalizing Cole Porter's musical elements.
The original non-musical film cast included Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart--a hard act to follow, to say the least. But while they don't best that teaming, stars Grace Kelly (Tracy), Bing Crosby (C.K. Dexter-Haven), and Frank Sinatra (Mike Connor, one of the reporters) carry off the roles with considerable charm. But the real strength of this film is the guest appearance of Louis Armstrong and the Cole Porter score. Only Porter would be brazen enough to write lyrics that rhyme Circe with Mercy, and while this is one of his lesser efforts it is still pretty impressive stuff, including such memorable tunes as "True Love," the satirical "Well, Did You Ever?," and such throw-away charmers as "Little One." As for Louis Armstrong, his star quality is powerful enough to put even Sinatra in the shade.
The failure of the film is the fact that every one in the cast seems to play a bit too casually, and although they are all clearly having a good time they never really achieve the sparkle a truly great musical comedy requires. Even so, musical fans--particularly those of Cole Porter, Armstrong, Crosby, and Sinatra--will find it quite enjoyable, and Grace Kelly fans will find the actress as lovely as ever. Recommended.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer