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High Society (1956)

Get the low-down on life in high society.

Directed by:

Charles Walters

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 107 minutes

UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

Grace Kelly is Tracy Samantha Lord, a beautiful high society divorcee preparing for her second marriage. Her first husband was childhood friend CK Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) but they parted company when he persisted in applying his musical talent to popular songs instead of creating great art. Her new fiancé is shrewd but boring businessman George Kittredge (John Lund), and a huge society wedding is being planned. However, CK is still in love with her and arrives coincidentally just in time to disrupt the wedding plans.

To complicate matters further, gossip magazine 'The Spy' blackmails the Lord family into allowing them to send people to cover the wedding. Reporter Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) duly arrive, although they are not party to the blackmail. Tracy continues to pursue her wedding plans, although her memories of her romantic sailboat honeymoon with CK are bothering her, and now she even finds herself attracted to reporter Mike. Odds are that there will still be a wedding, but only one of the three men is going to get lucky.

A musical remake of the classic film 'The Philadelphia Story', this lacks the depth of the original but succeeds on other levels in as much as it fits well into the 'fluffier' musical genre. The characters are lighter than in the original and Kelly in particular – although stunningly beautiful – doesn't bring as much depth to the role of Tracy Lord as Katherine Hepburn did. The character of CK is charming and appealing, but doesn't quite fit – lacking the alcoholism of the original role it's hard to understand why Tracy parted company with him in the first place, nor does he really need redeeming in the way the original character did. That being said, the film stands up well when compared to other musicals rather than to the original, and will appeal particularly to fans of the stars and the genre.

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It's Got: Music and lyrics by Cole Porter, including Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and other popular songs.

It Needs: CK Dexter-Haven to be more human and less laid-back.

DVD Extras A valiant attempt has been made to include extras with this old classic. Extras: Celeste Holm hosts Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love, Newsreel, Cartoon, Trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Some Like It Hot, The Country Girl, The Philadelphia Story.

Summary

This cheerful fluffy musical from cinema's age of innocence is not deep or complex, but has plenty of enthusiasm and provides sound entertainment.

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