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"High Society" DVD Review

Tonight's film was chosen by a friend whom I'd invited over for a movie night. She's been having a rough patch and it'd been about 9 months since she'd been over, so I pointed her towards the piles of DVDs and said, "Pick something out." Of her choices, Giant was too long (3-1/2 hours!); I'd seen Management; wasn't in the mood for Blindness; and while I've heard good things about Gigantic, wasn't in the mood for that. Then she spotted my Mom's copy of High Society and decided she needed a Grace Kelly fix. I'm not sure if I've seen it before in its entirety. I don't recall other than a line from one of Louis Armstrong's sidemen about having forgotten his library card (when seeing the mansion they'd be gigging at) and the Cole Porter classic, "Well, Did You Evah?"

The 1956 musicalized version of the play and movie The Philadelphia Story transplants the setting to Newport, RI and swap in Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly for the original's Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Kathryn Hepburn. While there are other cool Porter tunes like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," "True Love," and "Now You Has Jazz," there is far more of the movie's running time spent with rather stagey dialog scenes exploring the icey persona of Kelly's Tracy Lord. (Yes, the rumor is that porn star Traci Lords took her name from here.) There is also a creepy angle with Bing's character - Tracy's ex-husband - lurking around and basically taunting her fiancee with constant reminders that he'd already planted his flag (repeatedly) on that hill.

While it's a minor "classic," I think High Society is a little slow-paced by today's standards and could've used some trimming; it could probably get cut from its 111 minutes to 90 without my gnashing of teeth. If you're looking for musical musicals, stick with MGM fare like Singing in the Rain.

Score: 7/10.

The DVD is an older pressing with an OK transfer, albeit with substantial edge-enhancement artifacts. Shop with care.

Note: This was Grace Kelly's very last role before marrying into royalty and the ring she wears in the film is the one Prince Rainier gave her. I've been watching Mad Men on Blu-ray and have always noticed that January Jones is supposed to be reminiscent of Kelly, but watching this movie really showed REALLY how similar they look. Yikers.


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