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The Philadelphia Story
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 comedy in which Katherine Hepburn must choose, on the night before her wedding, between her husband-to-be and two suitors, including her ex-husband. This is a very funny comedy of manners, beautifully performed and directed, with lots of snappy-smart 1940s-style dialogue. However, it's a bit risque, and the class politics may be lost on younger kids. Many of the characters drink throughout the movie and are shown drunk, leading to consequences regarded by some characters as "shameful," resulting in blacked-out hangovers. Characters smoke cigarettes, cigars. A domestic quarrel is shown between a husband and wife that ends with the husband putting his hand on his wife's face and shoving, causing her to fall to the floor. Kids might be confused by the outdated gender roles. Parents should know that alcoholism, divorce, adultery, and lechery are made light of.
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What's the story?
A classic screwball comedy, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY follows the love life of spitfire socialite Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn), who divorces her husband C.K. (Cary Grant) and, a few years later, is getting ready to marry tightly wound -- and moneyed -- George Kittridge. A crisis is averted when a tabloid story about Tracy's womanizing father is stopped, but this means that reporter Mike Connor (Jimmy Stewart) gets access to Tracy's wedding nuptials. Soon, a confused Tracy finds herself torn between George, the irresistibly attractive Mike, and devilishly handsome C.K., who still holds a torch for his former wife.
Is it any good?
The dialogue is sly and witty (although pretty adult), the story tightly wound and beautifully spun, and there are plenty of funny pratfalls. While Hepburn is unquestionably the star of this screwball romance, Cary Grant is irrepressibly charming, and Jimmy Stewart steals the show when he turns into an amorous drunk (he won a Best Actor Oscar for this role).
There's also a serious side to The Philadelphia Story. As Tracy prepares herself for her second marriage, she is sternly lectured by her ex and her dad, and told that a woman should be unconditionally forgiving, understanding, and loving in the face of her husband's alcoholism and her father's sexual indiscretions. Overall, this is a smart and ambitious comedy, one that states that there's more to a wedding than the materialistic aspects, and more to life than good manners and fine appearances. The love story is complex and delightful, and plenty of silly subplots keep things moving.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how gender roles have evolved since The Philadelphia Story was made.
Katherine Hepburn often played characters who were strong-willed and sharp-tongued. Who are some other examples of actors who are known for playing a certain type of personality?
This is a classic movie, featuring three of Hollywood's best-known and best-loved performers: Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. Besides their performances, what are some other aspects that make this movie "classic"?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.