Mar. 25th, 2017

osprey_archer: (art)
I first saw The Philadelphia Story back when I was in high school and it totally blew me away. Katherine Hepburn! Cary Grant! Jimmy Stewart! The actress who plays Tracy Lord’s (Hepburn) little sister Dinah, I don’t know who she is but she is hilarious and I love her. The entire scene where she’s putting on a show for the newspaper people who have come to cover her sister’s wedding, acting the part of the obnoxiously precocious show-off child: comedy gold.

I saw it again last night at the ArtCraft theater, and Dinah is still wonderful as are all the main characters - but boy howdy does a lot of this film consist of various men telling Tracy Lord everything that’s wrong with her. She’s more like a goddess than a woman: so unsympathetic and judgmental! Convinced that she never makes mistakes and disdainful of mistakes in others!

Now there is something to be said for seeing oneself as part of the great mass of people who make mistakes and recognizing that we all have feet of clay. But I’m not at all convinced that Tracy does believe that she never makes mistakes - she’s got a divorce under her belt, for goodness’ sake! - and even if she did, why should she be sympathetically nonjudgmental about her father the philanderer or her ex-husband the abusive alcoholic?

(“I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives,” Tracy’s ex-husband C. K. Dexter Haven tells Mike Connor, the newspaper writer. “You know, at one time I think I secretly wanted to be a writer.” And he and Tracy glance at each other disdainfully.)

C. K. Dexter Haven has quit drinking by the time the movie begins, and because he’s played by Cary Grant he’s 100% sold me on the idea that he’ll be a better husband the second time round, but as a general rule I think there are times when it’s a good idea to be “judgmental and unsympathetic” - or, you know, just to hold your own well-being in higher esteem than that of the person who is treating you badly.

...I still think Tracy Lord, Mike Connor, and C. K. Dexter Haven would make a fabulously tempestuous OT3, though (and I suppose we’ll have to send Elizabeth Imbrie off to Europe as a war reporter; I love her but I’m just not seeing the OT4). Mike’s got a chip on his shoulder, and Tracy and Dex are never really going to understand why because they were both born with an entire silverware drawer in their cribs, and he’s terribly prickly about taking any monetary support from them and probably continues to feel it even after he’s become successful as a writer and doesn’t need it anymore.

So sometimes he walks out and then shows up at the door again weeks or months or years later, probably drunk and definitely bedraggled by the rain, and C. K. Dexter Haven lets him in and listens to his drunken ramblings and covers him with a blanket when he falls asleep on the couch with his hat still on, and when he wakes up, there’s Tracy with a glass of orange juice, waiting to see him as if he’d never been gone.

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