Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is everybody fine? That's fine.

Today's segment is about Old Hollywood and New Hollywood. But I've actually decided to temporarily change it a wee bit, if you don't mind. I think it's fascinating that there seems to be a whole musical sub-genre: the musical remake. Musical remakes made a surge in the 50s and 60s and I find it very odd. Sometimes the musical remakes were better than the originals because music and dancing have a unique power and sometimes the original was, in fact, much better than the remake. I wanted to give the Old Hollywood/New Hollywood segment a break, but rather than do away with it entirely, I'm going to discuss musical remakes vs originals for a little while and see how that goes. Let me know what you think!

So, to start off, I want to discuss one of my favorite movies ever: The Philadelphia Story (1940) which starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. The musical remake, High Society (1956) starred Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra.

Tracy Lord
Katharine Hepburn vs. Grace Kelly

I think Katharine Hepburn is great in the movie. She's strong, willful, and beautiful. However, I have an easier time believing a bunch of men would fight over marrying Grace Kelly. She's so gorgeous. Sorry, Katharine.

C.K. Dexter Haven
Cary Grant vs. Bing Crosby

Okay, I have a few thoughts on this one. First off, I don't particularly care for Bing Crosby (he's okay) so I would definitely go for Cary Grant. I think alcoholism was a very good flaw for Grant's Dexter to have. I mean, that really can be a major issue and Cary Grant, as gorgeous and amazing as he is, would be an unappealing husband if he were an alcoholic one. But jazz? Really? Jazz as a flaw? I can imagine Tracy being scornful over her husband's obsession but I think divorcing him over such a thing is a little crazy. Then again, I wouldn't want to marry Bing Crosby in the first place - jazz or no jazz. He doesn't have the suavity of Cary Grant (who does?). In competing for the most divorce-worthy flaw, I'd definitely go with alcoholism over jazz and in competing for the most fight-worthy husband, I'd definitely go with Cary Grant.

Macaulay Connor
James Stewart vs. Frank Sinatra

This one is a little tougher because I love Frank Sinatra and I love Jimmy Stewart. I have to say, though, that I really think James Stewart was incredible as Mike (as evidenced, I suppose, by his Oscar). I love the scene when he comes to call on Dexter. I think it's one of my favorite movie scenes ever.

The Music
Cole Porter was brilliant. One of my very favorite songwriters. There are some great songs in this one too: "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" "Well, Did You Evah?" Sometimes music can really do something that dialogue can't. For instance, you can see Dexter and Tracy's relationship when he's singing "True Love" to her. However, as much as I love Cole Porter and I adore his music, I think the dialogue and plot of this movie work so seamlessly, that the music isn't really necessary to drive the plot or the characters along.
But, I do love this song:

My decision? The Philadelphia Story. This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise as I did preface this post with, "this is one my favorite movies blahblahblah." But I do think High Society is a wonderful movie. When not comparing it to the original, it's fantastic. In comparison to the original, I'd take the original.

Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? I'm going to post a poll so that you can vote over which one you prefer and we can compare notes.

I really hope I didn't come off as mean or anything in this post. I'm always afraid that if I state a strong opinion I'll come off as pushy or nasty or something.


  1. I'm totally with you that The Philadelphia Story is a superior movie. High Society is kinda fun and fluffy, but Philadelphia Story packs the greater intellectual and emotional punch. Not even Louis Armstrong can push High Society to the win. (Although I do love the scene with Bing and Frank singing together.)

  2. I completely agree! I definitely prefer Grace to Katharine, but I think Grant and Stewart played their roles much better. I actually havent seen High Society completely, but Im about to watch it on TCM later today.

  3. Well put - and a very well thought out post. Love Philadelphia Story and have never seen HS in its entirety - its going to be on TCM today? Shoot!

    Jimmy Stewart's Oscar is an interesting one - its not one of those "Oscar performances" like Vivien Leigh in GWTW or Ginger in Kitty Foyle. He's just playing a good down to earth guy!

  4. I've never seen High Society, but I love The Philadelphia Story, so I would have to go with that one. Great post!

  5. The Philadelphia Story is one of my favorite movies, but I couldn't make it through High Society. I don't think I even made it to the first number. The sets were so artificial, and I don't care for Bing or Frank as actors (for that matter, I'm not a huge Grace Kelly fan either), so I really didn't care.

  6. What a great topic! I think I'd prefer The Philadelphia Story over High Society, but I do love the songs in High Society! Who Wants to Be a Millionaire used to be one of my favorite songs when I was little!

  7. Great post! And your analysis of all the actors is perfect too! My husband thinks "Philadelphia Story" is funny because all three principle actors have very distinct speaking voices. I never noticed before!

  8. Great post! I love Philadelphia Story because I love Hepburn and Cary together though I thought them much better in Bringing Up Baby. I have not seen High Society but I can say I am not a great fan of Grace Kelly and I used to not be a great fan of Bing. But now I am gaga over Bing, he was a great singer and such a smooth character when it came to acting. He made it look fun which is why he should have stayed away from drama altogether.


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