Monday, February 20, 2017

High Society

Year 9, Day 51 - 2/20/17 - Movie #2,551

BEFORE: Well, TCM is running "The Philadelphia Story" today, and we're sort of on the same page, because my film tonight is a remake of that film.  Frank Sinatra carries over from "The Tender Trap", and I've got three more Sinatra films coming up this week.

And here's what they're running tomorrow, 2/21:
6:45 AM Pride of the Marines (1945)
8:45 AM Primrose Path (1940)
10:30 AM Princess O'Rourke (1943)
12:30 PM The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
2:15 PM The Private Life of Henry VIII (1937)
4:00 PM The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
6:00 PM The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)
8:00 PM The Quiet Man (1952)
10:15 PM The Razor's Edge (1946)
12:45 AM Rear Window (1954)
2:45 AM Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
4:45 AM The Red Danube (1955)

I've only seen 2 out of tomorrow's 12 - "Rear Window" (another Grace Kelly film) and "Rebel Without a Cause", so I'm dropping to 87 seen out of 232.

THE PLOT: C.K. Dexter-Haven, a successful jazz musician, lives in a mansion near his ex-wife Tracy Lord's family estate.  She's on the verge of marrying a blander and safer man, but Dex wants to win Tracy's heart again.  Mike Connor, a tabloid reporter, also falls for Tracy while covering the nuptials, and Tracy must choose between the three men.

AFTER: Well, if "The Tender Trap" represented a love quadrangle, this one takes things a step further, with sort of a love pentangle (pentagon?) as there are 5 people involved.  There's the bride and her fiancĂ©, plus her ex-husband, that's a triangle, but then there's the reporter that also falls for her, and his long-suffering not-girlfriend.  How many times did Celeste Holm play the girl who unsuccessfully chased after Frank Sinatra's character?  I must check on that.

Now I wish they had clarified the geography of the Newport mansions - I got confused because it seemed like Dexter-Haven was living in the same house as his ex-wife, not one just down the road, then his ex said something about "Don't let Dexter get near this house", but it seemed like he was already there.  Anyway, when he did show up, he had no trouble getting in, so what was the point of trying to keep him out?  OK, so Tracy takes Mike Connor out for a driving tour of the mansions, but it's not much help, because only one of those is owned by a main character.

But it turns out that this takes place during the time of the annual Newport Jazz Fest, and Louis Armstrong and his band just happen to be in town, so we get to see Bing Crosby perform with them.  But it's too bad that this involves Bing mansplaining what jazz is, and the names of the instruments involved.  But didn't most people already know what jazz was by 1956, hadn't it been around for like 30 years?  Why treat the audience like idiots who don't know what the various instruments are called?

That's just one of the ways I found this film to be quite tedious - of course, part of that comes from knowing what took place in "The Philadelphia Story", and wondering why a remake was necessary to begin with.  They pulled that same confusion over which man is Mr. Lord and which is Uncle Willie, but there doesn't seem to be as much point to continue with that charade this time - what was the point of it, anyway?

I also didn't understand when Tracy and her sister met with the two magazine reporters, and the young sister spoke in French and danced ballet, then Tracy came in and just acted super-fake and overly expressive.  Why?  What was she trying to prove?  It seemed in the scene before this like she was going to pull some kind of trick on them, but I just didn't get the gag.

This film is on that list of "1,001 Movies to See Before You Die", and since I was just three movies away from having seen 400 of those - it's not easy because they keep changing the list every two years, and I end up making negative progress - any movie I can cross off that list at this point is helpful, but I can't really understand why this film needs to be on that list - especially if "The Philadelphia Story" is also on it.  It's basically the same movie, just with different actors, right?  OK, so they added songs, big whoop.

Also starring Bing Crosby (last seen in "Robin and the 7 Hoods"), Grace Kelly (last seen in "To Catch a Thief"), Celeste Holm (also carrying over from "The Tender Trap"), John Lund, Louis Calhern (last seen in "Julius Caesar"), Sidney Blackmer, Louis Armstrong, Margalo Gillmore, Lydia Reed.

RATING: 3 out of 10 glasses of champagne

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