Over the last few days, Julie and I have been watching a bunch of older movies. Classics, really. Stuff that everybody knows of, most people have seen, yet which we haven't seen in so long that our memories of the movies are hazy, or movies that we inexplicably missed over the years.
So far, I watched Casablanca and The Philadelphia Story with Julie, and then I watched High Society on my own. I'm not actually sure that High Society is a classic in the same sense; I don't know if it's well remembered or well-known today. I also don't know how I missed it; it was clearly one of my father's favorite movies ever; he watched it frequently as we grew up, and played the soundtrack (on vinyl!) all the time as well. So I knew all the songs, even though I hadn't ever seen the movie.
For those of you who don't know, it was a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story; which was itself a pretty famous movie starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart—in fact, it's Jimmy Stewart's only Best Actor Oscar.
That it's a musical isn't surprising when you notice that they cast Bing Crosby in the Cary Grant role and Frank Sinatra in the Jimmy Stewart role. In fact, it was the first (and one of the very few) times that the two of them were on screen together, singing together. Frank Sinatra was purportedly wooed to the part for the opportunity just to sing that duet ("Well Did You Evah?" being the duet in question.)
It's disappointing to me that neither The Philadelphia Story nor High Society is really the definitive take on the story, though. High Society is more modern, in color, and features that absolutely superb Grace Kelly in the lead femme role—in her last role, as it turns out; she was already married and was Princess Grace of Monaco by the time the movie hit theaters, and the engagement ring "prop" she used in the movie was her actual engagement ring—(Grace Kelly is probably my favorite star of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, and probably my favorite actress ever; although Ingrid Bergman and Olivia de Havilland give her some stiff competition) and the songs are top-notch, giving this movie an edge over its predecessor in that regard. I did enjoy the cast and chemistry between them more too; particularly between Crosby and Kelly, where I thought Grant and Hepburn strangely enough didn't hit a good chemistry. Considering all the times they played opposite each other, that was kinda bizarre, but maybe I'm biased—I've never really liked Katherine Hepburn that much.
However, the plot and character development is severely truncated (maybe in the interest of adding all the songs without dramatically increasing the running time? Actually the run times are within a minute of each other, which is kinda funny.) Be that as it may, the movie felt rushed and without sufficient motivation and character development, some of the plot developments would have seemed inexplicably dense if I hadn't just seen The Philadelphia Story a few nights earlier so I could fill in the gaps.