Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Philadelphia Story (1940)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

In director George Cukor's sophisticated romantic comedy based on Philip Barry's Broadway play - a true classic!:

  • in the very funny, extended opening argument (breakup) prologue scene (without dialogue), husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) grabbed and palmed the face of his haughty and demanding heiress / Philadelphia socialite wife Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn), wearing only her nightgown, and forcefully pushed her backwards through the doorway of their grand palatial estate and to the floor (out of the frame); he was retaliating against her - she had thrown out his pipe rack and golf bag, and broken one of his golf clubs into two pieces (over her knee) as she tossed him out of their home
Prologue Scene: A Forceful Push Backwards
  • two years later, in Philadelphia newspaper headlines, Tracy was about to be re-married to nouveau riche "man of the people" George Kittredge (John Howard)
  • in the presence of tabloid reporter-journalist Macaulay "Mike" Connor (Oscar-winning James Stewart), divorced husband Dexter cruelly berated his ex-wife Tracy: "It's astonishing what money can do for people, don't you agree, Mr. Connor? Not too much, you know, just more than enough. Now take Tracy, for example. There was never a blow that hasn't been softened for her. Never a blow that won't be softened. As a matter of fact, it's even changed her shape. She was a dumpy little thing at one time...Not interested in yourself? You're fascinated, Red. You're far and away your favorite person in the world....she's a girl who's generous to a fault....except to other people's faults. For instance, she's never had any understanding of my deep and gorgeous thirst....You were no helpmate there. You were a scold... A weakness, sure, and strength is her religion, Mr. Connor. She finds human imperfection unforgivable. When I gradually discovered that my relationship to her was supposed to be not that of a loving husband and a good companion but... but that of a kind of high priest to a virgin goddess. Then my drinks grew deeper and more frequent, that's all....And the night that you got drunk on champagne and climbed out on the roof... and stood there, naked, with your arms out to the moon wailing like a banshee"
  • there were further contemptuous denouncements by Dexter about Tracy's new marital prospect, and her own "goddess" personality: "Kittredge is no great tower of strength, you know, Tracy. He's just a tower....To hardly know him is to know him well. Perhaps it offends my vanity to have anyone who was even remotely my wife remarry so obviously beneath her....Kittredge is not for you....There's something engaging about it, this 'goddess' business, something more challenging to the male than the more obvious charms.... Red, you could be the finest woman on this Earth. I'm contemptuous of something inside of you you either can't help or make no attempt to. Your so-called 'strength,' your prejudice against weakness, your blank intolerance... You'll never be a first-class human being or a first-class woman until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty. It's a pity your own foot can't slip a little sometime, but your sense of inner divinity wouldn't allow that. This goddess must and shall remain intact. There are more of you than people realize. A special class of the American female. The Married Maidens"
  • while drinking together, Mike sensed Dexter's continuing love for Tracy, and then asserted his own admiration for her: "Are you still in love with her?...I don't know, I-I can't understand how you can have been married to her and still know so little about her?...You know, Tracy's no ordinary woman, and you said some things to her this afternoon I resented....But when a girl is like Tracy, she's one in a million...She's sort of like a queen - a radiant, glorious queen, and you can't treat her like other women"
  • Mike made a very snobby statement to the very tipsy Tracy: ("The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges")
  • during heiress/bride-to-be Tracy's and Mike's moonlight rendezvous scene (the night before the planned wedding), involving heavy champagne drinking, Mike made a surprise vow of his love for her: ("Tracy - you can't marry that guy....Tracy, you're wonderful...There's a magnificence in you, Tracy...A magnificence that comes out of your eyes and your voice and the way you stand there and the way you walk. You're lit from within, Tracy. You've got fires banked down in you. Hearth fires and holocausts...No, you're made out of flesh and blood. That's the blank, unholy surprise of it. Why, you're the golden girl, Tracy, full of life and warmth and delight. Well, what goes on? You've got tears in your eyes")
  • and then after an unexpected and melodramatic kiss, she exclaimed softly: "Golly," then took a breath and kissed him a second time - she stood in his arms, her cheek against his chest, overwhelmed and amazed at herself and starting to shake: "Golly Moses"
  • after kissing, Tracy began shaking and Mike asked: "It can't be anything like love, can it?"; they both realized their newfound love was "inconvenient - terribly"; she encouraged him to join her in the pool and said: "Put me in your pocket, Mike" - and they raced off
Moonlight Rendezvous Between Tracy and Mike The Evening Before Her Wedding to Kittredge

Mike to Tracy: "You can't marry that guy"

"Why, you're the golden girl, Tracy"

Kissing in the Moonlight: "Golly...Golly Moses!"
  • after a midnight swim sequence, Mike carried Tracy back toward the house - where they met up with Dexter and Kittredge who both assumed the worst (Kittredge: "I got eyes, I got imagination, haven't I?")
  • the next morning, Tracy decided to abruptly break off her engagement (and wedding) at the last minute; Mike called his own short affair with Tracy only "two kisses and a rather late swim"; Kittredge listened as Tracy admitted wrongdoing: "And I was guilty straight off until I was proved innocent," but then she dismissed him: "Goodbye, George...You're too good for me, George. You're a hundred times too good.... And I'd make you most unhappy. Most. That is, I'd do my best to...That's the way it is"
The Wedding - A Rapid Change of Plans
  • in the shocking wedding finale, Tracy admitted she had been a "terrible fool" - she was about to abort the marriage ceremony in progress - but then made a surprise announcement to the gathered and stunned audience (while prompted by Dexter) that the ceremony would still proceed: ("I'm terribly sorry to have kept you waiting but there's been a slight hitch in the proceedings. I made a terrible fool of myself, which isn't unusual, and my fiancee- my fiancee that was, that is, he thinks we'd better call it a day, and I quite agree with him.... but I hope to make it up to going beautifully through with it now as originally and most beautifully if you'll just keep your seats a minute")
  • the film's final freeze-framed last image revealed that she was at the altar re-marrying Dexter after all

Philadelphia Socialite Wedding Announcement

Dexter's Berating of Ex-Wife Tracy

Dexter's Criticisms of Tracy's New Fiancee Kittredge, and Of Her Own "Goddess" Nature

Drinking Scene: Mike with Dexter

Mike: "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges"

After-Swim Scene

Tracy's Break-Up Scene with Kittredge (Mike: Tracy's Affair With Him was Only "Two kisses and a rather late swim")

The Film's Final Image: A Freeze-Frame of a Camera Shot


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