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High Society Reviews

Page 2 of 40
July 1, 2014
The first thing we hear in High Society is tuneful jazz, its voicing helmed by the toothy Louis Armstrong, who sings with a flashy grin and a smoky baritone. He is the prologue to the film, catching us up to date - playboy C.K. Dexter Haven has just been divorced by Tracy Lord, a stunningly gorgeous socialite who is about to marry a square, George Kittredge.
As soon as we're introduced to Haven, we instantly like him. He carries a self-confident, slightly smug demeanor on his back that tells us that he is ready to poke fun at the upper class in which he is surrounded by - it doesn't hurt that he is portrayed by Bing Crosby, who we know will sing at some point in the film, who we know will use his easy charisma to win back Tracy.
But Tracy is in a different zone from her ex-husband. In her first scene, she is surrounded by wedding gifts, not feeling a bit guilty that they are from her first, complicated, and quite brief marriage. Tracy is unable to grasp the fact that, because she is getting married again so soon, it makes her appear like an airhead who doesn't have enough love in her heart to sustain it.
Her caramel-tinged blonde beauty and slightly Anglo voice makes her a sophisticated minx that carries the sexiness of a goddess - but underneath her unearthly good looks, we know that she cannot be contained. While she likes the idea of Kittredge, she knows deep down that she is still in love with Haven, who toots her horn wherever she goes.
There are times where she doesn't seem to fit into the bourgeois way of life, a polar opposite of the woman who portrays her, the incomparable Grace Kelly, who left Hollywood once the film was finished to marry the Prince of Monaco.
A remake of 1940's The Philadelphia Story, High Society could have collapsed under the weight of the flawlessness set by its source, but by changing it into a musical romantic comedy, with an entirely new set of charming stars, it stands completely on its own. It changes skepticism into adoration.
At first, we can't help but make comparisons. Does Kelly have the comedic timing set so perfectly by Katharine Hepburn? Does Crosby match Cary Grant's sly façade? Do Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm have the same outsider accessibility James Stewart and Ruth Hussey brought as the snooping but energetic reporters? Never do these questions have to be answered, because the cast brings something new to the table that is neither weak or improved upon - the film simply does not feel like a remake.
Charles Walters fine tunes each scene in a way that shoos away mimicry. He knows how to use his actors, bringing out their strong suits rather than hiding them. High Society drives with the cheeriness of a stage play, keeping us cheekily entertained while not floating away with feathery lightness - there is plenty of wit, song, and color to be spared, and we are given the chance to be reminded why both the story, and the actors, are so classically beloved today.
The ensemble has a rapport that cannot be ignored. Whether she be alongside Crosby, Sinatra, or John Lund (a bland actor who gives us the bland Kittredge), Kelly shows each relationship's attitude with masterful enthusiasm. Though her career was cut short, she was blessed with a filmography that makes us fall in love with her over and over again, making her seem like a revelation instead of a Hollywood veteran.
The scene stealers are proven to be Sinatra and Holm quite quickly - it's odd that Sinatra wasn't given the role of Haven, but he brings so much suavity to Mike Connor it's a wonder he hasn't stolen every woman in the building. Holm, one of the greatest character actresses of all-time, has a bevy of terrific one-liners to sell and a knowing personality that makes her stand above every person in the room. What makes High Society so great is that the actors all fit like gloves in their roles, and once the singing comes along, it isn't an annoyance, but rather, a reason to love them even more.
The film closes like it began - Louis Armstrong turns to us, smiles in glee, and informs us of the unfortunate reality: the film is over. When a musical wraps up and we instantly want to see it again, we know it's a downright good one. No, High Society might not have the quintessential status of its source, and no, it isn't remembered in the same way as other musicals of the period, such as Singin' in the Rain, but it's a classic in its own right that deserves to be known as something more than Grace Kelly's last film.
June 23, 2014
May 21, 2014
Bing & Frank! Love it!
May 13, 2014
We've got this DVD in a set with Singin' in The Rain: given the cast, the Cole Porter songs, and that accompaniment, I had high hopes.

What a disappointment. Louis Armstrong seems shoe-horned in purely to meet other commercial aims of the studio. All the characters are utterly unlikeable. Grace Kelly is gorgeous but Tracy Lord is as unpleasant as they come - I really couldn't begin to see why everyone fawned over her, and I stopped caring long before the end.

The film claims it's about love, but none of the characters seem to even vaguely like each other. Their actions are frequently unbelievable and usually enfuriating.

I even lost interest in the songs - they were mere blips in a deeply disappointing experience. Awful.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

March 10, 2014
High Society is a much loved classic but in all honesty, the story line is fairly awful. I'm usually the first to say, bad story = bad film, but this is one of the very few exceptions and for good reason. It's impossible not to love the introduction and epilogue given by the great Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong, Grace Kelly's final and in my opinion, best performance as Tracy Lord and Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, singing together and representing the new vs. the old. That wonderful scene whereby Crosby acknowledges Sinatra as being the new wave of crooner is just wonderful. All that and some of the musicals best songs, including one of my favorites; "Well, Did You Evah". It's pretty hard to resist.
January 28, 2014
This musical version of the play The Philadelphia Story features amiable leads, solid acting and while the story may be utterly unbelievable, it is the strength of the music involving Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and even Louis Armstrong that makes this film. Watch it for the music and stay for the light entertainment.
December 23, 2013
Just can't compare favorably with the original The Philadelphia Story. Not bad, just mediocre.
July 17, 2008
For a remake, it certainly lived up to itself. I love the cast, the music, and all the jazz.
November 19, 2013
Absent Sinatra, Kelly, and Crosby, High Society would be nothing more than a lackluster copycat of The Philadelphia Story. But the presence alone of these three turn an okay movie into a good one.
October 18, 2013
In 1940, a film called "The Philadelphia Story", starring Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn, was released to critical and financial success. It also received six Academy Award nominations, and won two for its screenplay and James Stewart's performance. Sixteen years later, a musical remake to this film titled "High Society" was made, this time starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly. Before I delve into my thoughts on "High Society", I'd like to briefly share my opinion on remakes in general. Unless they are based on a film that was bad and/or improve upon the flaws of their predecessor, I find remakes completely unnecessary and lazy especially when it's a good film that's being remade. So although it is a remake of a well-made comedy, "High Society" works reasonably well for what it is which is light, amusing musical entertainment.

A jazz musician by the name of C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) has recently been divorced from wealthy socialite Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly, in her final film role before officially becoming Princess Grace of Monaco). Despite this circumstance along with her recent engagement to snooty gentleman George Kittredge (John Lund), Dexter is still in love with her and determined to win her back. Things become further complicated when a magazine sends reporter Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) to cover the wedding in exchange of disregarding humiliating information about the family. Though Mike is very reluctant to be there, he does become attracted to Tracy as well. Now, Tracy must choose between Dexter, Mike, and George before the big day arrives.

If I could come up with only one reason why you should see this film regardless if you possibly don't care for either musicals or remakes, it would be for the cast. I don't recall another film in history that has brought together Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly all in one film. Kelly ends her impressive acting career here with arguably the only comedic role she's played. One could say she's mostly imitating Katherine Hepburn here and that some of her previous roles (notably Frances Stevens in "To Catch a Thief") technically had even more underlying humor present. She still has fun with this role and has not lost any of the charm or beauty that made people like me love her in the first place.

Crosby and Sinatra also bring their usual charm and star power to their roles, most notably in the film's best musical number "Well, Did You Evah". I liked the chemistry between Kelly and Sinatra, and how he has to take time to warm up to her ways. Even though Crosby and Sinatra are both competing for Kelly's affection, I didn't mind that they were still friendly towards one another. If it wasn't for the star power of Kelly, Sinatra or Crosby, I would have forgotten that there were even actors in this film since the characters themselves are pretty underdeveloped, especially George. George is the type of character that was only created for the convenience of the plot and nothing more. He is an exceptionally poor antagonist to the story because he has no personality to him and he doesn't seem to enjoy being there.

I've already implied that "Well, Did You Evah" was the musical highlight of the film, but how do the other songs written by Cole Porter hold up in my mind? I'd say that with the exception of one or two forgettable tunes, the others range from solid to catchy. "High Society" (the opening tune sung by Louis Armstrong and his band), "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", and "You're Sensational" come to mind when naming other well written songs. If you're a hardcore fan of Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and the musical film genre in general, I think you'll find "High Society" to be fine, fluffy evening entertainment.
October 13, 2013
Much like the case of Pygmalion getting turned into the musical My Fair Lady, the classic 1940 romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story was remade in 1956 in the form of High Society. While this film is a decent musical, it's not nearly as good as The Philadelphia Story since it doesn't have the same scathing bite to it. This in turn, causes High Society to suffer since it seems to lose some of the story's meaning in its transition into a very light-hearted musical. Despite being a much weaker film, High Society is still an energetic and fun little musical thanks to solid performances and solid musical numbers. Still, between the two films, I would recommend The Philadelphia Story any day over High Society. But, hey, at least it's an actual good remake of a classic that's worth a look if you enjoyed the original film.
September 9, 2013
Bing Crosby + Frank Sinatra together is a treat, and Grace Kelly gives an entertaining flamboyant performance. This is a fun film, with foot-tapping jazz from Louis Armstrong & co too.
Jessica L.
May 19, 2013
Has to be one of my favourite movies. Grace Kelly being beautiful and mighty, Louis Armstrong working his magic alongside singing greats Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. A musical genius, the philidelphia story was made proud in this rendition.
May 5, 2013
A musical remake of The Philadelphia Story. Despite the identical plot and musically inclined cast, the magic of Hepburn, Stewart, and Grant are lost. It is still an enjoyable musical, but not the classic its predecessor was.

Grade: B
April 7, 2013
love this, it tells the story sooo well, tho i still prefer the james stewart's version but this one is not bad, sooo not bad :) the old one is more classic ^^
March 17, 2013
Yes, it's a remake of "The Philadelphia Story" but it shows how far Grace Kelly developed from "High Noon".
February 26, 2013
Berühmte Songs aber unbehände Story mit überdrehten Charakteren
Four Star Film Fan
February 1, 2013
This is a musical adaption of the classic The Philadelphia Story and it boast a stellar cast as well including Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. It is light-hearted and not quite as good as Philadelphia Story but it still is worth watching if you like classic musicals.
December 7, 2012
Would like to see at some stage.
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