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directed by George Cukor
USA 1940

 

Its witty dialogue, romantic complications, and class-skewering satire are hallmarks of screwball comedy, but George Cukor’s classic The Philadelphia Story doesn’t turn on absurd situations, outlandish behavior, or unpredictable plot twists. Instead, it’s a more mature and humanistic social satire, a comedy of manners skewering every kind of snobbery: not only the class-based snobbery of the rich against the poor — and the poor against the rich — but also the intellectual snobbery of the literate against the popular, and above all the moral snobbery of the self-righteous against the imperfect.

Excerpt from Steven D. Greydanus' review located HERE

With this furiously witty comedy of manners, Katharine Hepburn revitalized her career and cemented her status as the era’s most iconic leading lady—thanks in great part to her own shrewd orchestrations. While starring in the Philip Barry stage play The Philadelphia Story, Hepburn acquired the screen rights, handpicking her friend George Cukor to direct. The intoxicating screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart pits the formidable Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn, at her most luminous) against various romantic foils, chief among them her charismatic ex-husband (Cary Grant), who disrupts her imminent marriage by paying her family estate a visit, accompanied by a tabloid reporter on assignment to cover the wedding of the year (James Stewart, in his only Academy Award–winning performance). A fast-talking screwball comedy as well as a tale of regret and reconciliation, this convergence of golden-age talent is one of the greatest American films of all time.

***

We open on Philadelphia socialite C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) as he's being tossed out of his palatial home by his wife, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Adding insult to injury, Tracy breaks one of C.K.'s precious golf clubs. He gallantly responds by knocking her down on her million-dollar keester. A couple of years after the breakup, Tracy is about to marry George Kittridge (John Howard), a wealthy stuffed shirt whose principal recommendation is that he's not a Philadelphia "mainliner," as C.K. was. Still holding a torch for Tracy, C.K. is galvanized into action when he learns that Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), the publisher of Spy Magazine, plans to publish an exposť concerning Tracy's philandering father (John Halliday). To keep Kidd from spilling the beans, C.K. agrees to smuggle Spy reporter Macauley Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) into the exclusive Lord-Kittridge wedding ceremony. How could C.K. have foreseen that Connor would fall in love with Tracy, thereby nearly lousing up the nuptials? As it turns out, of course, it is C.K. himself who pulls the "louse-up," reclaiming Tracy as his bride. A consistently bright, bubbly, witty delight, The Philadelphia Story could just as well have been titled "The Revenge of Katharine Hepburn." Having been written off as "box-office poison" in 1938, Hepburn returned to Broadway in a vehicle tailor-made for her talents by playwright Philip Barry. That property, of course, was The Philadelphia Story; and when MGM bought the rights to this sure-fire box-office success, it had to take Hepburn along with the package -- and also her veto as to who her producer, director, and co-stars would be. Her strategy paid off: after the film's release, Hepburn was back on top of the Hollywood heap. While she didn't win the Oscar that many thought she richly deserved, the little gold statuette was bestowed upon her co-star Stewart, perhaps as compensation for his non-win for 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Donald Ogden Stewart (no relation to Jimmy) also copped an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Philadelphia Story was remade in 1956 with a Cole Porter musical score as High Society.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 1st, 1940

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Comparison:

Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL vs. Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the PAL DVD screen captures!

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL LEFT

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

Also available on Blu-ray from Criterion, in the UK - one week later:

OR buy the Warner Classic Comedies Collection (Bringing Up Baby / The Philadelphia Story Two-Disc Special Edition / Dinner at Eight / Libeled Lady / Stage Door / To Be or Not to Be)...

   

Distribution

Warner

Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Warner (old)

Region 1  - NTSC

Warner (2 disc)
Region 1 - NTSC
Criterion Collection (part of spine #901)
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:38 (4% PAL speedup) 1:52:24 1:52:04 1:52:27.741
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.68  mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.73 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,460,615,956 bytes

Feature: 26,714,609,664 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.61 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Warner (PAL)

 

Bitrate:

Warner (old)

 

Bitrate:

 

Warner (SE)

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio 1.0 Dolby Digital English, German (dub), Spanish (dub) English (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby) 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, Croatian, Slovenian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Turkish, Greek, Hebrew etc. English, French, Spanish, English (Hearing Impaired) and none English, French, Spanish, English (Hearing Impaired) and none English (SDH) and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Jeanine Basinger
• Cukor Trailer Gallery
• Katharine Hepburn: All About Me - A Self Portrait (1:10:02)
• The Man who made the Movies: George Cukor (55:02)
• That Inferior Feeling (9:09)
• The Homeless Flee (7:35)
• Victory Theater Broadcast 7/20/1942 (57:59)
• Lady Esther Screen Guild Playhouse Broadcast 3/17/1947 (29:22)

DVD Release Date: June 20, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 30

 

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (3:38)

DVD Release Date: December, 2000
Snapper Case

Chapters 30

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1:
• Digitally Remastered Movie with Commentary by Film Historian Jeannine Basinger
• George Cukor Movie Trailer Gallery

Disc 2:
• Two Insightful Documentaries About the Star and Director: Katharine Hepburn: All About Me - A Self-Portrait and The Men Who Made the Movies: George Cukor
Robert Benchley Short That Inferior Feeling
• Cartoon The Homeless Flea
• Audio-Only Bonus: Two Radio • Adaptations Featuring the Movie's Three Stars.

DVD Release Date: March 1st, 2005

Keep Case inside cardboard box
Chapters: 30

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

 

Aspect Ratio:

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,460,615,956 bytes

Feature: 26,714,609,664 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.61 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger
• In Search of Tracy Lord, a new documentary about the origin of the character and her social milieu (22:09)
• New piece about actor Katharine Hepburn’s role in the development of the film (18:53)
• Two full episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1973, featuring rare interviews with Hepburn 1:08:53 + 1:09:00), plus an excerpt of a 1978 interview from that show with director George Cukor  (15:02(
• Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1943, featuring an introduction by filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille
• Restoration demonstration (6:25)
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

 

Release Date: November 7th, 2017
Transparent 
Blu-ray Case
 
Chapters:
23

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray October 2017: The Criterion is cited as a "New 4K digital restoration". The story is, as always, higher resolution - despite the strength of the 2005 SD - it can't complete with the 1080P of the Criterion HD transfer, which also seems to have eliminated the speckles found on the last Warner DVD edition. Detail rises, better layered contrast, better film textures, more information in the frame etc. In-motion Criterion's Blu-ray looks like the film is brand new. Exceptional.

Criterion use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) to authentically duplicate the film's flat audio. Minimal effects but the light Franz Waxman (Dark Passage, Rebecca, Bride of Frankenstein, Rear Window, Sunset Boulevard) score adds further to this delightful romantic-comedy. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the region FREE The Philadelphia Story disc.

Criterion stack the disc with supplements starting with including the pleasing audio commentary from 2005 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger. It's still relevant and interesting. In Search of Tracy Lord is a new, 22-minute, documentary about the origin of the character and her social milieu. Playwright Philip Barry and actor Katherine Hepburn, both experiencing career downturns in the late 30's, worked closely together to create the iconic character Tracy Lord, Philadelphia's "Main Line" socialite, for Barry's play The Philadelphia Story. This new documentary by Criterion explores Tracy's real life origins and includes interviews with Barry Scholar Donald Anderson, Barry granddaughter Miranda Barry, and Janny Scott, the granddaughter of one of the Main Line socialite said to be an early model for the character. There is also a new 19-minute piece about actor Katharine Hepburn’s role in the development of the film. Filmmakers David Heeley and Joan Kramer have produced several documentaries about the stars of The Philadelphia Story including three books about Katherine Hepburn, as well as coauthoring a book, In the Company of Legends. In this new documentary, produced by Criterion, Heeley and Kramer describe Hepburn's single-minded focus on rescuing her career by way of The Philadelphia Story, first onstage and then on-screen. There are also two full, hour-plus, episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1973, featuring rare interviews with Hepburn, plus a 1/4 hour excerpt of a 1978 interview from that show with director George Cukor. There is also a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1943, featuring an introduction by filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, a brief, but informative restoration demonstration and a trailer. The package has a liner note booklet with an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Philadelphia Story on Blu-ray - they DO NOT make films anywhere close to this nowadays. Fun with the greats stars... what a great disc,  a pristine presentation, endless extras - our highest recommendation.

***

ON THE DVDs: NOTE: Although there are some minute differences in the image of the new 2-disc editions, it can be considered negligible, but at the same time very interesting. We use first-frame matches and not slightly different damage marks from the PAL to the NTSC - nothing outrageous though. I would say on of the major differences are in the subtitle font. Other than that we have the same menus, same extras and if I was forced to choose a superior image - it might very well be the PAL.  The PAL edition has more DUB and subtitles options as often the case with European vs. North American releases. BOTTOM LINE: I'd be happy with either new DVD edition, and buy where you find the most reasonably priced Amazon shipping.

***

The biggest areas of improvement in the new SE package are 1) The extras, 2) the contrast level, and 3) slight more screen information on the right, top and bottom edges of the frame. The new edition has far superior black levels. this was the most noticeable improvement to the image. I found the sharpness to be the same. Minimal damage and dust still appear in the same spots in the new edition and good film grain is still present. Subtitles on the new edition s are less intrusive and we find superior. Audio also appeared to be an improvement, although my ears have trouble detecting anything more than major differences. The extras on the new disc are tremendous - short cartoons, extensive bio featurettes, audio radio inserts etc. etc. I was initially suspicious of this new SE when I saw the similar damage marks on the new transfer, but the host of extras and convincingly strong black levels have sold me. We recommend the new edition whole-heartedly. A solid DVD of a classic and wonderful film.

P.S. LOVE The Homeless Flea short cartoon addition. I wish there was more of this with classic films put to DVD these days.

 - Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

(Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - NTSC + PAL - RIGHT)

 

NOTE: The Region 2 - PAL menus are exactly the same as the 2-disc NTSC except for the set-up options:

 


Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC - Disc 2 menus

Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle sample

(NOTE: not exact frame capture)

 

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Screen Captures

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (old) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC THIRD

4) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Screen Captures


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

  

Also available on Blu-ray from Criterion, in the UK - one week later:

OR buy the Warner Classic Comedies Collection (Bringing Up Baby / The Philadelphia Story Two-Disc Special Edition / Dinner at Eight / Libeled Lady / Stage Door / To Be or Not to Be)...

   

Distribution

Warner

Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Warner (old)

Region 1  - NTSC

Warner (2 disc)
Region 1 - NTSC
Criterion Collection (part of spine #901)
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gary Tooze

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