The Philadelphia Story


The Philadelphia Story was produced at MGM for a 1940 release. The film was directed by George Cukor, one of the most important and reliable of studio directors of the Golden Age. Cukor was particularly adept at directing women and he remained a top choice of producers and actresses alike for comedies and musicals. Cukor was a director who excelled at pacing complex stories involving conflict between the sexes. The film is also a generic combination of Screwball Comedy (exploring conflicts about class, education, politics, and family life with witty dialogue), in addition to Romantic Comedy (the conflicts to delay or ensure love and marriage.)


Pay attention to the mise-en-scène and characters:

  1. When we observe the locations and scenes of the Lord family mansion, what does it tell us about the family in terms of wealth and the kinds of possessions they value? How do we learn about them visually?
  1. How are we introduced to the major characters, Carey Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Ruth Hussey? What do we quickly learn about them visually?
  1. How important are costume changes for the female actors, what do they reveal about their characters?
  1. What are some of the themes of the film?
  2. What else impressed you about the film?

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