Scored by Cole Porter, “High Society” is a glossy, all-star musical version of Philip Barry’s 1940 masterpiece of a play, “The Philadelphia Story,” which featured Katharine Hepburn (on stage and screen) in one of her most iconic performances.
Set amongst the rich and famous in Newport, Rhode Island, the tale revolves around the wedding plans of socialite Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly in the Hpeburn role).
Tracy plans to marry stuffy George Kittridge (John Lund), while magazine writer Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra in the Jimmy Stewart part) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) intend to cover the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Tracy’s ex-husband C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby in Cary Grant role) also comes calling, ostensibly to the attend the annual Newport Jazz Festival, but actually for the purpose of winning Tracy back.
All the men are or fall in love with Tracy. The Jazz Festival subplot allows scriptwriter John Patrick to bring the great jazz musician Louis Armstrong into the event.
The Cole Porter tunes include the Crosby-Sinatra duet “Well, Did You Evah?,” a song not written for the movie but borrowed from Porter’s 1939 Broadway show, “DuBarry Was a Lady.”
Other highlights include the Crosby-Armstrong teaming “Now You Has Jazz,” the Kelly-Crosby romantic ballad “True Love” (which was nominated for the Best Song Oscar), and the Sinatra solo “You’re Sensational.”
Though it lacks the satiric edge, wit, and humor of the Philip Barry original play, and Kelly is not Hepburn, “High Society” is an enjoyable film, representing Grace Kelly’s final screen role before her real-life wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco.
“High Society” was extremely popular at the box-office, the eighth top-grossing picture of the year.
“True Love” was one of the last songs written by Porter, who retired in 1958 after a riding injury, which forced an amputation of his leg.
Oscar Nominations: 2
Song: “True Love,” music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Scoring of Musical: Johnny Green and Saul Chaplin
Oscar Awards: None
The winners of the Song Oscar were Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Whatever Will Be, Will Be” (“Que Sera, Sera”) from Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”
Alfred Newman and Ken Darby won the Scoring Oscar for “The King and I.”
Running time: 110 Minutes.
Produced by Sol C. Siegel
Directed by: Charles Walters
Screenplay: John Patrick
DVD: April 22, 2003
Bing Crosby as C.K. Dexter-Haven
Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord
Frank Sinatra as Mike Connor
Celeste Holm as Liz Imbrie
John Lund as George Kittredge
Louis Calhern as Uncle Willie