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THE PHILADELPHIA STORY ($25) is one of the wittiest and most sophisticated screen comedies, and I am happy to count it amongst my own personal favorite films. Based upon the Broadway play by Philip Barry, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is the tale of a socialite who has reporters from a scandal sheet, as well as her ex-husband, thrust upon her on the eve of her second marriage. Katharine Hepburn stars as socialite Tracy Lord, recreating the role she originated on Broadway. Cary Grant is her ex-husband, one C.K. Dexter Haven, who still loves his ex, and hopes to teach her a lesson about life, and save her from a horrible mistake. James Stewart won an Academy Award for his role as Macaulay Conner, a talented writer who is forced to work as a reporter to pay the bills.

Connor eventually becomes enamored with Tracy, and discovers his own lesson about life. The principals perform beautifully, each giving a richness and joy to their character. Even the supporting characters turn in rich and rewarding performances. George Cukor’s direction is also marvelous. Cukor keeps everything light and amusing, while maintaining a rapid pace. The outstanding cast of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY also features Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler and Henry Daniell.

MGM Home Entertainment has done a spectacular job transcribing THE PHILADELPHIA STORY to DVD. The black and white transfer is truly outstanding. I’ve never seen the film look as good as it does on this DVD. The film element used for the transfer is nearly pristine, with only an occasional speckle making an appearance. The black and white image is finely detailed, and features truly black blacks and good contrast, all the way up to white. There are a couple of optical fades in the film, which don’t appear razor sharp, but their brevity renders them negligible. Digital compression artifacts were virtually absent from this DVD.

The one channel Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack was very clean, considering the film’s age and the optical sound technology available in the early forties. Franz Waxman’s delightful score sounds just terrific on this track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer as well as the standard scene selection feature.

As I stated above, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is one of the great screen comedies, featuring an incomparable cast. This DVD is terrific looking and sounding; it comes very highly recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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