C.K. Dexter-Haven, a successful popular jazz musician, lives in a mansion near his ex-wife's Tracy Lord's family estate. She is on the verge of marrying a man blander and safer than Dex, who tries to win Tracy's heart again. Mike Connor, an undercover tabloid reporter, also falls for Tracy while covering the nuptials for Spy magazine. Tracy must choose between the three men as she discovers that "safe" can mean "deadly dull" when it comes to husbands and life.
Bing Crosby ... C.K. Dexter-Haven
Grace Kelly ... Tracy Samantha Lord
Frank Sinatra ... Mike Connor
Celeste Holm ... Liz Imbrie
John Lund ... George Kittredge
Louis Calhern ... Uncle Willie
Sidney Blackmer ... Seth Lord
Louis Armstrong and His Band ... Themselves
Margalo Gillmore ... Mrs. Seth Lord
Lydia Reed ... Caroline Lord
Gordon Richards ... Dexter-Haven's butler
Richard Garrick ... Lords' Butler
Director: Charles Walters
Codecs: XVid / MP3
MGM was pretty lucky to secure the talents of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm, and Louis Armstrong to get involved in this great musical adaption of The Philadelphia Story.
Cole Porter contributed a great original score for this film with songs very specifically written to suit the talents of High Society's players. I do wish Celeste Holm had been given more to do than just the duet with Frank Sinatra, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. On Broadway Celeste Holm was a musical star with Oklahoma and Bloomer Girl to her credit, but MGM didn't want to recognize that.
For this film, the story is reset from Philadelphia to Newport, Rhode Island to bring in the famous Jazz Festival. Philip Barry's social commentary is toned down and a very partisan Greek Chorus is added in the person of Mr. Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Satchmo tells you right up front who he's pulling for to win Grace Kelly and he helps musically along the way.
Satch and Bing have that classic Now You Has Jazz duet, so successful was it that they did an album together a few years later. Bing Crosby during his life was crazy about jazz musicians and there was no one he liked better than Louis Armstrong. No one on the planet could resist that man's joy for living.
Grace Kelly got a chance to bat 1000 in the recording industry. She was no singer as she would have freely admitted, but Cole Porter wrote True Love specifically to accommodate her limited range and when she does the last two bars of True Love with Der Bingle she got a million selling record for her one and only platter. As for Bing he got his 20th Gold record and the only one not with Decca records.
True Love was nominated for Best Song at the Oscars but lost to Doris Day's Que Sera Sera which boomed all over the charts in 1956. It was sadly Cole Porter's last opportunity to win an Oscar for one of his movie songs.
Frank Sinatra got a couple of good ballads in You're Sensational and Mind If I Make Love to You, but what he's best remembered for is that classic Well Did You Evah duet with Bing. Today's fans can't possibly appreciate the screen meeting of the two best and best known singers for the previous generations. A musical summit conference.
High Society's tone is a lot lighter than the Philadelphia Story. The cast in terms of acting ability are not in the same league as Grant, Stewart, Hepburn, and Hussey. But folks it is a musical. I doubt those stars could have carried off the Cole Porter score.
You can't miss with a cast like this, in either film for that matter.
This is one of the best musicals ever. Bing Crosby is relaxed and amusing, Frank Sinatra is full of energy and his voice amazes as always, Grace Kelly is at her most beautiful and the story is littered with fantastic characters. There are some hilarious one-liners and some moving moments as well.
With a cast made up of Hollywood A-listers form the fifties, and Cole Porter's genius spilling over with every song, there isn't a foot put wrong. And adding the unusual and perfect concept of Louis Armstrong as both participant and commentator proved an idea which works so well.
This is definitely one you'll watch with a smile on your face from start to finish.
This second rendition of the exuberant play by John Barry, while inferior to Cukor's 1940 version, remains a delightful farce on the upper class thanks to the witty, sparkling script from the play by John Barry.
The cast is commendable albeit not spectacular given , showcasing the drollery of the script. Grace Kelly (in her last complete screen performance) surprises us with her comedic talents helped along by the script; Crosby slips into the comfortable role of the guy-next-door that is all too familiar with his screen person. Sinatra (showing some of his age) sings adequately, but seems a little distant and lacks the edge, danger and sexiness of his 1940 counterpart.
I might only add that the 3 principals seemed to lack that spark which validated their freewheeling around L.A singing songs about making love. On screen I did not feel they were as youthful and vibrant as seen in some of their earlier films.
The direction by Charles Walters - an accomplished director of film musicals including Gigi, Ziegfeld Follies, and Annie get your Gun - supports the cast very well with various long shots of the mansion and sunny California. He is splendidly able to infuse the house with it's sparkling jewels and ornaments with a sense of grandeur, merriment and delight so that it fully inhabits the characters and their kingdom.
The scene-stealer each time is Louis Armstrong and his band. While his interludes are not his best pieces to showcase, the music is pleasant, dreamy and fun. What else would you expect from this rollicking comedy? And how can you not love Armstrong? He was so adorable!
It was interesting to note the audience's reaction to this film. Musicals are one of my favourite genres - I love them for the swooning and swinging numbers - however the audience did not appreciate it so much. There were even groans and boos (which I found disrespectful - you must know it's a musical!) when Sinatra and Kelly burst into dreamy love duets. I have to admit though that the transition of the songs in the film was not altogether seamless (even choppy at times). At times it seemed like a selling point for the producers to capitalise on the musical craze sweeping the country during that period in Hollywood (See Kelly and Sinatra sing!); add name dropping, and songs & lyrics that misrepresent Cole Porter's skill and wit as a composer.
This is a fun film however deeply overshadowed by the original 1940 version and lacking Cuckor's razor-sharp screwball slapstick. The pace is also slower however it probably compensates for delighting us with the elegant sets and musical interludes.
I was also fortunate to see this film with audience and definitely relished hearing the viewers chortle along to the absurd story and zany characters. It was impossible not to join in the belly-laughs in this dreamy ride.
* Grace Kelly, recently engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco, wore her actual engagement ring for as character's engagement ring.
* Grace Kelly's last feature film before retiring from acting.
* Musical adaptation of the play and movie "The Philadelphia Story."
* Though hers is the central character in the story, Grace Kelly does not sing a solo. Indeed, but for accompanying Bing Crosby on "True Love" and drunkenly shouting, "Sensational," she wouldn't sing at all (rare for a musical).
* Features the song "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" which gave the successful TV quiz show its title.
* The song "Well, Did You Evah?" (from a previous Cole Porter musical) was added at the last minute when it was realized that there wasn't a song for Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to sing together.
* The song True Love, written by Cole Porter especially for the movie, was a million seller and both Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby were awarded platinum records for the song. This is the only platinum record ever given to sitting royalty as Grace Kelly had become Princess Grace by the time it was awarded.
* Average Shot Length (ASL) = 14 seconds
* The elaborate necklace that Caroline holds up and says "This stinks!" was a prop from Marie Antoinette (1938) starring Norma Shearer. The necklace was later worn by Tracy when greeting Mike and Liz.
* Louis Calhern died in Japan just after making this film. He was on the set of The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) but died early in the filming. His role was recast, making High Society (1956) his last screen appearance.
* Elizabeth Taylor was the first choice for the part of Tracy Lord. She was unavailable so the part went to Grace Kelly.