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Film / High Society

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High Society is a 1956 American musical comedy remake of The Philadelphia Story, directed by Charles Walters, starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra, and featuring a musical score written by Cole Porter.

Upper class Tracy Lord (Kelly) is getting married to George, an independently wealthy man, but her ex-husband Dexter (Crosby) is still in love with her and tries to win her back. Simultaneously, Tracy's family is blackmailed into allowing a reporter and photographer for Spy magazine cover her wedding as an exclusive. Love Triangle confusion ensues among the cast.

This film provides examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Mike doesn't take advantage of a drunk Tracy, even though he's pretty drunk as well.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Blonde Grace Kelly playing the role originally written for auburn-haired Katharine Hepburn. As a result, her original nickname, "Red", has been changed to "Sam".
  • Adaptation Title Change: High Society is a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Dexter addresses Tracy as "Sam", from her middle Samatha, which she hates.
  • Almost Kiss: Tracy and Mike after he sings "You're Sensational" to her.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Tracy and Caroline do not get on well to begin with, primarily because Caroline refuses to hide her obvious preference for Dexter as her brother; possibly also because of a Precocious Crush on Dexter, whom she feels Tracy mistreated.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Tracy is a little offended that Mike didn't take advantage of her while she was drunk.
    Tracy: Why? Was I so cold? So forbidding?
    Mike: Not at all. On the contrary but you were somewhat the worse - or the better - for the wine and there are rules about such things.
  • As Himself: Louis Armstrong, referred to in-universe by his (real-life) nickname "Satchmo", plays himself as a friend of Dexter's. His band are introduced as themelves during their solos in "Now You Has Jazz", as well.
  • Betty and Veronica: George, the reliable, respectable, somewhat dull fiance (Betty); and Dexter, the jazz-loving, dancing/singing/composing ex-husband (Veronica); to Sam's Archie. No surprises with whom she ends up...
  • Big Fancy House: As Satchmo points out, the Lords' house is a little excessive, apparently containing both a north and south parlour for a start.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: George, who seems nice, if a little straight-laced, to begin with but increasingly reveals himself to be a humourless stuffed shirt as the film progresses.
  • Blackmail: Mike and Liz are only present because Spy magazine threatened to publish a disastrous account of Seth Lord's affairs with various showgirls. To their credit, they didn't know, and finally refuse to hand in their story after they find out.
  • Black Mail Is Such An Ugly Word: Spy Magazine doesn't want to have to print some scandalous details about Seth Lord, not at all…
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Satchmo's opening monologue-cum-Title Theme Tune begins with a direct address to the audience.
    "Great song, but the wrong girl…"
    • In "Well, Did You Evah?" Mike sings, "Don't dig that kind of crooning, chum!" To which Dexter responds, "You must be one of the newer fellas."
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: Kelly gets to showcase her unexpectedly brilliant comedy chops after Tracy downs a few too many glasses of champagne at her pre-wedding party.
    (the morning after) “Hello everybody! Isn’t it a fine day? Is everybody fine? That’s fine.”
  • Child Hater: The first clue we get as to George's character is that he dislikes Caroline. The feeling is mutual.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Tracy deliberately breaks Liz's camera after the latter snaps a cheeky photograph of her posed between both her ex and soon-to-be husband.
    ”Oh how clumsy of me, I could just die”.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    George: You and your whole rotten class.
    Dexter: Oh, class my—
    Mike: Grandmother!
  • Dance of Romance: Mike and Tracy dance a rumba, after champagne, in the dark… Their partners are understandably upset. It doesn't stick.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dexter. Liz and Mike, and later Tracy, also qualify.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Tracy, who begins the film as something of a haughty princess, but mellows throughout and is full of joy by the final scenes where she’s decided to get back with Dexter.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Mike and Tracy. They didn't — Mike is too gallant to take advantage of Tracy whilst she’s had one too many champagnes.
  • Disposable Fiancé: George - sent packing when Tracy realises she still loves Dexter, and actually marries him at their wedding!
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Dexter and Tracy are set to marry again at the end of the movie.
  • Drowning My Sorrows
  • Drunken Song:
    • "Well, Did You Evah?" "I drink to your health ..." "Nah, let's drink to your wealth!"
    • Tracy sings "True Love" when drunk.
  • Duet Bonding: Friendly version, Mike and Dexter's "Well, Did You Evah?"
  • Extremely Short Time Span: Takes place over two days (and the night between).
  • Fish out of Water: Mike and Liz. George too, to a lesser extent.
  • Girl Friday: Liz to Mike.
  • Hair of the Dog: Mike would "sell his grandmother" for an alcoholic beverage the morning after the party.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Several characters but especially Tracy, who reels back from the morning sunshine and has terrible beer-fear over her own hazily remembered flirtations with Mike the night before.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Mike sings a song titled "Mind if I Make Love to You" to Tracy when they're dancing. In the '50s "making love" meant having an intimate conversation, such as flirtatious or seductive sweet talk, with no physical contact involved.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: Played with. Mike and Liz, while taking in the luxurious home of the Lords sing "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!" ("I Don't!"), listing in the song all the luxuries they could afford if they were rich, and for each one, claiming not to want it. By their expressions and the effort they put into the song, it's implied to be a case of Sour Grapes, however.
  • Ironic Echo: "The truth is you'll never be a first class human being until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty."
  • Kissing Under the Influence: (of champagne) Mike and Tracy.
  • Lap Pillow: Tracy lies with her head in Dexter's lap when they sing "True Love".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "Did You Evah":
    Mike: Have you heard that Mimsy Starr-
    Dexter: Oh, what now?
    Mike: She got pinched in the As- tor bar.
  • Let's Duet: ''True Love" - Dexter/Tracy, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" - Mike/Liz, "Well, Did You Evah!" - C.K., Mike
  • Love Confessor: Liz tacitly confirms Dexter's suspicion that she's in love with Mike.
  • Love Triangle: Or Love Pentagram.
  • The Missus and the Ex: George and Dexter, for Sam, although technically she hasn't married the "missus" yet.
  • Mouthy Kid: Caroline.
  • The Musical: Of The Philadelphia Story, and/or Philip Barry's original play of the same name.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Caroline complains to her mother that this is the case near the beginning of the movie; one of the reason's she's so glad to see Dexter return.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Mike carrying a drunk Tracy back to her furious fiance.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In regard to The Philadelphia Story. Tracy's revenge plot is entirely removed; the presence of the reporters is explained separately. Seth Lord is also simplified and less present in the story, largely due to Values Dissonance regarding his extra-marital affairs; similarly Dexter's alcoholism is removed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dexter gives Tracy one mid-way through the film. This is followed shortly by one from her father. She realises the truth of them when she tries to give one to Mike, and ends up with an Ironic Echo of the earlier speeches
  • Rich Bitch: Tracy, though somewhat toned down and she does improve over time.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Played with; although none of them really qualify as the poor suitor, Mike is certainly poorer than the other two. Between Dexter and George there seems to be little difference, numerically, but George is very conscious of being wealthy and succesful, while Dexter is not. Some Values Dissonance on the crassness and unsuitability of being a Self-Made Man appears.
  • Self-Made Man: George, compared to old-moneyed Dexter.
  • Shipper on Deck: Caroline, for Sam/Dexter. Possibly Mrs Lord too.
  • Sibling Rivalry: To some degree; Tracy is the elegant, lady-like grownup, to whom tomboyish, smart-alec Caroline feels somewhat inferior.
    Sam: Isn't it time for your milk and arsenic, darling?
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: What Tracy wants (or doesn't want) to know in the lead-up to her wedding.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: The Lords, who are about as Waspy as one can get — their (very Anglo-Saxon) surname is even derived from an English aristocratic title.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Tracy and Dexter marry at what was supposed to be her wedding to George — in front of his own family, one assumes!