High Society (1956)
I don't think I made it any big secret that I didn't care for "The Philadelphia Story" so imagine my great surprise when I find out that "High Society" is just a remake of the Cary Grant movie....but it's a musical. Lovely.
The plots are fairly similar—the two movies are actually virtually the same, except one has songs and one doesn't. C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) and Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) were married at one time; but they aren't anymore. Tracy now hates Dexter and he is still in love with her which is a nasty situation no matter how you look at it. Tracy is remarrying a man named George (John Lund) who, by all rights, is only a character present for comedic and narrative purposes.
So here's the setup: on the week of her wedding, Tracy descends into a world of chaos while three men vie for her attention and her cheating father returns to her, all while she tries to make sense of her own life and become less offensively rigid. It all culminates at a ball where everyone has too much to drink and true feelings come spilling out painted on bad decisions.
No one in "High Society" or "The Philadelphia Story" acts rationally and it is never enjoyable for me to see these people's lives torn apart by their own stupidity. Why is it that Tracy's father, who has run away with a stripper, gets to lecture her about being a better person? Why is that? Tracy raises the question and her father brushes it off; because, after all, he's a man and she's a woman.
Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) enters the picture as a reporter who's doing a story on the wedding for a tabloid magazine that's blackmailing the Lord family with a scathing piece about the dad running away with a stripper.
Yet it would be impossible for Mike to be an unattractive person with a terrible voice...no, he has to be another guy that Tracy wants to bang.
"High Society" is just as edgy as "The Philadelphia Story" was, but neither of them are that interesting. It's like watching "Dangerous Liaisons" without all the sex...and who wants to do that? What's aggravating about both pictures is how the characters interact. Tracy swoons from high priestess to lush in one scene and Dexter can't help but stir the pot and rile everyone else up...and then there's the ending which is 50 shades of terrible.
I'm already against "High Society" because it's the same story I'd seen before and didn't like.
Yet the music is good and one odd facet of the movie has Louis Armstrong playing Louis Armstrong and whether the gaudy cameo is likable or not, he is the best part of the movie.
The most glaring aspect of the movie that I despise is how the photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) is treated. She and Mike appear to be a couple, but as soon as Tracy shows her well-groomed face it's lights out for their relationship. Then again, by the end of the movie, we're supposed to believe that Mike has grown up so much more by drunkenly swimming with Tracy and taking a punch from Dexter.
What the heck?
"High Society" is shot in vivid colors and time has been very kind to the movie; yet behind its fancy look, I find it very hollow.
Posted by Micah Jones