Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: High Society (1956)

Starring: Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra

Co-Starring: Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong, Louis Calhern 
Directed by: Charles Walters
Other notable contributors: Cole Porter - music, Helen Rose - costumes

Favorite scene:  Pre-wedding party.  Grace Kelly's character, Tracy, has a little too much champagne and funny lines follow.

Favorite line:  "I'm sensational.  Everybody says so!" - Tracy

Raves:  While I love films in black and white, High Society was made for Technicolor.  The brightly colored sets and rich costumes add to the sprightly tone.  The Cole Porter songs are lighthearted, hummable little ditties that move the film along at a nice pace.  My favorite one, "Well Did You Evah?" features Frank and Bing duetting and dancing in the library.  A line in that song makes reference to the real-life changing of the guards in popular music:
Bing ad-lib: "buh bum bum bum" 
Frank: "Don't dig that kind of crooning, chum"
Bing: "You must be one of the newer fellas"

Rants:  Very few.  Can be a little silly at times.  

My take:  Grace Kelly,  Cole Porter tunes courtesy of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, vibrant Technicolor, the plot of The Philadelphia Story - what's not to love?  While the original 1940 non-musical version has better actors in the three leading roles (Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart) High Society is more fun.  I watch this film about once a month.  

Recommended if:  you're looking for a fun, lighthearted movie for a sunny afternoon and you don't mind musicals.

Modern-Day Counterpart:  My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) - both have a strong, central female character with a lesson to learn and good use of music.

As Louie Armstrong says, "end of story!" 



Alix said...

I usually don't like remakes, especially when the original was so good, but this is one of the few cases where the remake is different enough to be new and interesting, while keeping the best of the original. An interesting side note is that Elizabeth Taylor was the first choice for the part of Tracy over Grace Kelly. While I do like Elizabeth Taylor, I think Grace Kelly was the better actress for the role.

Lindsay said...

It's true! The Philadelphia Story is one of my very favourites, so for my liking of the remake to be just as strong says something. Being a huge Grace Kelly fan, I love her in this film because she's not being the cool, aloof Hitchcock blonde or the demure wife. The scene where her character gets drunk truly displays her comedic talents. Her delivery of lines like "George is frowning at me and I can't dance when anyone frowns at me" and "There are fairies at the bottom of my garden all ringing little bells" always makes me laugh.