High Society - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

High Society Reviews

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½ August 1, 2016
Enjoyable; what a cast!
½ July 18, 2016
Based on the The Philadelphia Story (1940), this romantic comedy is thoroughly entertaining from start till end. It contains a stellar cast and features outstanding performances, especially from Mr Cool Crosby. The screenplay is quick and witty, the sets are bright and attractive, and the songs are clever and memorable. Louis Armstrong tops off this musical comedy. My favourite film of 1956.
½ November 20, 2015
What do you do besides collect husbands?

Tracy Lord is a beautiful heiress that is about to marry her second husband. Things are awkward when her ex-husband lives next door and is a heavy participant in the festivities. Things become even more complicated when handsome and persistent reporter Mike Connor arrives to report on the extravaganza.

"That's an awful thing to say to anyone."
"That's an awful thing to have to say."

Charles Walters, director of Easter Parade, Lili, Walk Don't Run, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Dangerous When Wet, Please Don't Eat the Daises, and Go Naked in the World, delivers High Society. The storyline for this picture is fun and entertaining with some good musical numbers but doesn't take itself too seriously. The acting is awesome and the cast includes Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Celeste Holm, John Lund, and Sidney Blackmer.

"Where we headed?"
"The graveyard."
"I'm not ready."

This was recently added to Netflix with a couple other Sinatra films. This was very fun, entertaining, and a great display of how remarkable Sinatra's talents truly were, singing and acting. This isn't a perfect classic picture, but it is worth a viewing for fans of the genre.

"Isn't it time for your milk and arsenic?"

Grade: B-
½ November 2, 2015
I do not like musicals but I gotta say I love this one.
September 1, 2015
I don't want to compare this film to The Philadelphia Story for the entirety of my review, but damn, that will be hard. In summary: no, High Society isn't as good as The Philadelphia Story. Yes, it's pretty good in its own right.


If I watched High Society without ANY knowledge of TPS, I might have enjoyed it a little more than I did. But it was hard to watch it in a bubble. What was comparable to TPS? Better, even? The staging probably - I loved the lavish society home sets. What wasn't? Everything else.

The cast, for starters. Grant vs Crosby. Well, they are both the apex of their epochs in urbanity, and cool. But Grant perfectly balanced this urbanity with vulnerability and fire in TPS, something Crosby would (could?) never do. Crosby has always been far too narcoleptic for my taste, too cool for ANY school. And here, in HS, he once again looks like he could take it or leave it. The film, and the leading lady.

I didn't buy that romance, and not because of the quarter century age gap. Crosby just didn't seem to care that much about Ms Kelly. Few sparks, minimal chemistry, no fire. Nothing like Grant and Hepburn in TPS.

Speaking of which...

Well, look. No one is disputing Grace Kelly is a stunner. The epitome of class. Ice cool. But SO hot. But she's no Katie Hepburn. No one is, granted. Ms Kelly tries hard. Her drunken scenes are excellent. I was actually surprised by how good she WAS. She's by no means bad. But she doesn't essay a Tracey Lord HALF as vulnerable and desperate and REAL as Ms Hepburn - who really was the lynchpin and the heart of TPS - her scenes with everyone resonated more comedically and dramatically than any scene in HS.

Except for a couple of times. Frank Sinatra surprised me here. Later in his career, Frankie seemed to take too many pages outta Crosby's too-cool-for-school playbook - but here, I thought he was great. Lacking the dramatic chops of (even a young) James Stewart - and the romantic angle with Mike and Tracey here is utterly unconvincing. But Sinatra is great in his earlier scenes playing the cynical journo line - especially when he's reacting with Celeste Holm to the inane, insane high society around them. In fact, their duet to Cole Porter's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" is the absolute (non-Louis Armstrong) highlight of the film - toe-tapping, and funny.

Otherwise the songs (apart from Louis, of course, and the Bing/Frank duet "Did You Ever?" while they are getting sloshed) are quite disposable - mostly Bing crooning or Grace trying her best.

Sigh...it sounds like I'm being hard on this film. I didn't mean to be.

It's light and frothy and disposable and fun, and occasionally funny. I loved the eye-raising that goes on about the alcoholic idleness of the filthy rich. I loved the excessive drinking. I hated (much like in TPS) the cringe-worthy justifications tossed about for Tracey's father's cheating. Grrr.

So, it's a fun, mostly forgettable Hollywood product. But one element in unforgettable. Louis Armstrong. His voice, his smile. His awesomeness. He's only onscreen for maybe ten minutes all up, but he makes the film for me.

"Can you dig old Satchmo swingin' in the beautiful High So-ci-yu-tee!"

I certainly can, Louis.

I can dig, very much.
April 24, 2015
Bland, overplayed, and stagy remake of The Philadelphia Story.
½ March 2, 2015
Spirited musical remake of "The Philadelphia Story," retains the charm and sophistication of the original thanks to the performances of Crosby, Kelly and Sinatra. Great musical support from Louis Armstrong.
½ December 18, 2014
Despite their gifts and charm, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra are poor understudies for Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart (respectively). The witty dialogue that was razor sharp in the hands of the cast of The Philadelphia Story proves to be very dull cutlery in the musical remake. But no one cares much about the "book" in a musical. Thanks to songs by Cole Porter and music by Louis Armstrong and his band, the music is peppy and fun.
December 12, 2014
I quite enjoyed this musical remake of, though it's certainly no match for, The Philadelphia Story. Grace Kelly (in her final acting role), Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong are excellent, and Bing Crosby is quite good albeit miscast as Dexter. I found this in both Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly DVD boxed sets. Its two extras, the featurette Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love and the cartoon Millionaire Droopy, were very enjoyable too. Highly recommended, even if you're not a fan of musicals.
August 25, 2014
"High Society" is an enjoyable film but it will always live in the shadow of "The Philadelphia Story." This musical remake of the Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn/Jimmy Stewart classic never had a chance of surpassing its predecessor, even with a catchy Cole Porter score and three superstars of its own. It is often remembered as Grace Kelly's final film. This must have been a dream for her after playing the role of Tracy on stage in a production of "The Philadelphia Story." She performs with elegance and warmth but lacks the attitude of Katharine Hepburn that is now associated with the character. The same goes for Frank Sinatra, whose singing is great and acting is enjoyable but he just couldn't match the Oscar-winning performance of Stewart. Bing Crosby suffers the same fate, not only because his performance falls short of Cary Grant, but also because he is an awkward 27 years older than Grace Kelly. While we're at it, I did not care for Celeste Holm as Liz Imbrie, particularly after seeing Ruth Hussey's Oscar-nominated performance in the same role. It is hard not to draw comparisons because "The Philadelphia Story" is simply so much better. My favorite part of the film is the featuring of Louis Armstrong. Similar to Duke Ellington in "Anatomy of a Murder," I feel like this preserves Satchmo on film forever with his unique singing style and amazing personality. From a singing perspective, the movie is great. With three leads that are this talented, each song is better than the last. From a script perspective, I understand that some things had to be changed to create an excuse for the musicians to be there, but I think that it weakened the story. And those slow moments that keep "The Philadelphia Story" from being perfection? They're still there. "High Society" is a good film that should be seen by all musical junkies but, if given a chance between these two films, you know which one I'd recommend.
August 7, 2014
Perhaps a little too bubbly and fluffy for its own good, there is no denying the sheer powerhouse teaming of Crosby and Sinatra. Their likeability, as well as vocal talents, go a long way to carrying the film over its rather fatuous plot and characterization.
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 fašade? 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 18, 2014
Just as good as the original (and perhaps too close to it), High Society is full of color, wit, and lively performances from a talented cast. Though it lacks in character depth it makes up for it with charm.
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.
April 24, 2014
watch it you will love it
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 26, 2013
A brilliant cast, superb score and sublime timing make this musical version of the wonderful "Philadelphia Story" one of the best Hollywood musicals ever.
½ December 23, 2013
Just can't compare favorably with the original The Philadelphia Story. Not bad, just mediocre.
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