Tag Archives: Katharine Hepburn

The Pfeiffer Philadelphia Story

In this age of remakes and reduced attention spans, I often come across people who say “I don’t like old movies” or “I would never watch something that’s in black and white.” When I hear people talk about classic films like that I always refer them to The Philadelphia Story, and many of the other Katharine Hepburn comedies. The spirit of The Philadelphia Story sparkles with an eternal radiance, thanks to Katharine, Cary Grant, James Stewart and the direction of the wonderful George Cukor.
grant-hepburn-hussey-and-stewartThe Philadelphia Story is so good I can barely believe my eyes. It’s so original, sharp and witty. I am eternally grateful Hollywood has not remade this film for the modern audience, but I do like to play a game with friends (and strangers) in which we attempt to re-cast this film with contemporary actors. I know it would be akin to repainting Bal du moulin de la Galette. But still… it’s fun.Charismatic ClooneyClooney would obviously take the Cary Grant role, and I can only see Tom Hanks as James Stewart, but Hepburn’s Tracy Lord? Oh Lord, I’m torn, because my heart says Meg Ryan, but my head says Michelle. Ryan had the perfect mix of beauty, brains, and comedic timing needed to play a screwball heroine, but Pfeiffer of course shares all of those talents, so I’d have to find room for both.french-kiss-kateCasting Meg as photographer Elizabeth Imbrie would allow Michelle to emit sultry insouciance opposite Ryan’s blend of daffy wholesomeness. Pouring herself into designer gowns, like a modern day Athena, would be only the start. Pfeiffer has grace, the physical dexterity, the aristocratic air. She can crack wise and take a fall, but – like Katharine the great – she’ll always be beautiful!
liz-imbrie-maggieAs they proved throughout One Fine Day, there is something about the way Clooney and Michelle interact with each other that just works. Simple as that. It would be easy to overanalyse their scenes together in that film and talk about little beats and tiny moments, but why? When something is this special, you shouldn’t try to examine it.
the-kissI’d rank their chemistry as second only to Meg and Tom Hanks, and that isn’t really fair since those two have now had four films to impress with. Hanks and Ryan are perceived as the masters, but as a rom-com crash-course in how to do it right, George and Michelle are a tough act to beat. They may not have done many, but to paraphrase Spencer Tracy what they did was choice.

The Philadelphia Story remade! Who would you cast?



Filed under Retrospective