Wednesday, April 27, 2016

High Society (1956)

Director: Charles Walters
Starring: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, John Lund, Louis Calhern, Sidney Blackmer, Louis Armstrong, Margalo Gillmore, Lydia Reed, Gordon Richards, Richard Garrick

In the days leading up to her wedding nuptials with well-off George Kittredge (Lund), Samantha (Kelly) must contend with several issues, the most severe of which is the constant appearance of her Jazz musician ex-husband Dexter Haven (Crosby) who's still madly in love with her. Meanwhile, a tabloid writer (Sinatra) and his photographer (Holm) are sent to cover the saga having developed a story involving her father (Blackmer).

Another simple pop-culture piece from the director of Easter Parade and Summer Stock, as an example of the style. The soundtrack takes place as the point of focus and delivers in spades, so much so that the story, adapted from The Philadelphia Story filmed previously with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart in the leads, gets buried in a sea of cliche. However, it's hard to entirely loss interest thanks to being in the trusted hands of Crosby and Sinatra (whose duet Well, Did You Evah! is a highlight) and the beauty of them all Grace Kelly.

Great support, as always, from the loveable Holm and Armstrong and his amazing band are of terrific use; Reed only appears in the opening scenes and is missed for the rest of the film. Accomplished composer Cole Porter provides his first original material score since his Tony award winning musical Kiss Me Kate, including future standards True Love, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and I Love You, Samantha. This was Kelly's last film; she became engaged to the Prince Rainer of Monaco prior to filming.


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