"I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know one time I think I secretly wanted to be a writer."
— C.K. Dexter Haaaaaaaaaaven
Witty, classic Hollywood Screwball Comedy made in 1940 and starring three of the biggest stars of the era: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart.Upper class Tracy Lord (Hepburn) is getting married to an independently wealthy man, but her ex-husband C. K. Dexter Haven (Grant), looking for a little revenge, sneaks in a couple of reporters - a writer (Stewart) and photographer - to do an exclusive story for Spy Magazine. Love Triangleconfusion ensues among the stars and supporting characters.Nominated for Best Picture but lost to Rebecca. Stewart, however, won the only Best Actor award of his career for his portrayal of Macaulay "Mike" Connor. Stewart, Hepburn, and Grant all give excellent performances, but this film suffers from a severe case of Values Dissonance—see the YMMV page for more.Later remade in 1956 as High Society, starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra in the Hepburn, Grant, and Stewart roles. Not to be confused with the 1993 Tom Hanks movie Philadelphia.
All Women Are Prudes: Tracy's attitude towards sex isn't just conservative; there's actually some evidence that she herself doesn't much care for it. The issue is never really addressed, despite the problems it apparently caused in her first marriage and could cause in her second.
Dexter: "Yes, yes, your Majesty, but first, could I interest you in some small blackmail?"
Break the Haughty: Tracy—the overriding theme of the movie is that Tracy won't be happy until she stops being so high-and-mighty.
Calling the Old Man Out: Subverted. Tracy thinks she's justifiably angry with her father for fooling around with a younger woman. Seth tells Tracy that his affairs are none of her business, then turns the tables and blames her for driving him away.
Foreshadowing: Dexter reminds Tracy that she, once, "got drunk on champagne and climbed out on the roof, and stood there, naked, with [her] arms out to the moon, wailing like a banshee". It seems champagne is bad for her. Then, we see her get drunk on champagne, with Mike.
Hilariously averted with Dexter, who apparently couldn't care less.
Liz would "scratch [the] eyes out" of any girl who came between her and Mike, but she manages to be philosophical about his fling with Tracy. It can't hurt that when Tracy turns down Mike's proposal, she gives Liz's feelings for him as one of her reasons.
Tracy's parents also point out that her outrage over Seth's philandering sounds a lot like jealousy. Which is odd, considering she's Seth's daughter.
Hair of the Dog: Mike would "sell his grandmother" for an alcoholic beverage the morning after the party.
Revenge: Mike (incorrectly) assumes this is Dexter's reason for co-operating with Sidney Kidd.
Mike: "So you want to get even with your ex-bride, huh?"
Rich Bitch: Tracy, though she's somewhat toned-down and does improve over time.
Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: A mild example, but it's hinted that the Lords aren't too smart about certain things. It's made somewhat clearer in the original play.
Tracy: "Mother, how do you spell 'omelet'???"
Margaret Lord: "O-M-M-E-L-E-T."
Tracy:(Erasing what she has written.) "Thought there was another 'L'."
Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Tracy actually has two rich suitors (Dexter and George) and one poor one (Mike). The film subverts our expectations somewhat by having Tracy marry one of the rich ones. After all, if money doesn't matter...
Mike: "Well, I made a funny discovery. That in spite of the fact that somebody's up from the bottom, he can still be quite a heel. And even though somebody else is born to the purple, he can still be a very nice guy."
During the luncheon scene: "Another place, Edward."
Margaret Lord never can seem to remember who Mike is, first forgetting his name, then mistakenly calling him "Mr. O'Connor", and finally confusing him with one of the musicians.
Running Gag Stumbles: At the end of the movie, Margaret seems to have forgotten who Mike is again, because she turns to him and cries, "Dr. Parsons!" Mike starts to correct her, then realises that Dr. Parsons is actually the pastor, and he is standing right behind Mike.
Spiritual Successor: To Holiday (1938). Both films share the same stars (Hepburn and Grant), director (George Cukor), and screenwriter (Donald Ogden Stewart), and both were adaptations of stage plays by Philip Barry.
A Taste Of Their Own Medicine: Tracy gives Mike and Liz one when pretends not to know they are reporters, and asks them a lot of very personal questions.
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Quaker librarian that Mike talks to asks "What does thee wish?" The grammatically correct form would be "What dost thou wish?", but Quakers tend to use "thee" as both a subject and object pronoun, so it makes sense in context.
You Didn't Ask: Liz's reason for not telling Mike about her previous marriage.