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Snobbish ice-maiden heiress Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) invites gossip columnist Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and his photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) to cover her upcoming wedding to dull and predictable George Kittredge (John Lund). The only reason they are invited, is as a pay off for an indiscretion by her philandering father (Sidney Blackmer). Tracy’s song-writer ex husband Dexter (Bing Crosby) is still in love with her and he makes sure he is close at hand as he organises the musicians (Louis Armstrong and band) for the wedding. Tracy has become the perfect society hostess and has forgotten she has feelings – until now that is.

Review by Louise Keller:
One of my all-time favourite musicals, High Society is one of those delightful romances that remain enjoyable, no matter how many times you have seen them. A remake of George Cukor’s 1940 The Philadelphia Story which starred Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn, the joy of this 1956 film is the combination of a witty script and the sparkling performances from its compelling cast. To get us in the mood, first up there’s the six minute overture, which teases us with a medley of the highly contagious Cole Porter tunes, ending with ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. Singing the title tune and acting as a kinda musical narrator is the sensational and gravel-voiced Louis ‘Satchmo’Armstrong, who blows his horn and, sings and mops his brow and thoroughly entertains us. ‘End of song, beginning of story’ says Satchmo as he puffs on a cigarette from the back of a bus with the other musicians, as they approach the lavish mansion in Rhodes Island where the story is set.

We get to know all the characters – the romantic Dexter, cynical Tracy and curious Mike who is not at all used to being around the rich and famous. ‘So far I’ve received 24 nut dishes and 16 icepicks,’ says the bride to be, to which her kid sister retorts ‘That should give you a rough idea of what people think of your next husband.’ The barbs come like sharp shooting bullets and so do the laughs as we enter the world of this mixed up bunch who toy with emotions almost as a hobby. Worth seeing just to goggle at Grace Kelly’s beautiful wardrobe, there are many highlights such as the haunting melodic ‘True Love’ sung by Crosby and Kelly. 

Things turn into a comedy of errors as cupid starts flinging arrows, but all’s well that ends well, in one of the most entertaining films of the era.

Celeste Holm hosts the feature called ‘Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love’, which canvasses how the film came about, the songs of Cole Porter, how the film was cast, and about this being Grace Kelly’s final role before becoming a real life princess. Holm talks about all her co-stars and what they were like to work with. There’s archival footage and an anecdote about lunching with Kelly and Prince Ranier. Also featured on the DVD is a sweet cartoon called Millionaire Droopy, the story of a millionaire who leaves a fortune to his pet dog Droopy. But the other house pet, Spike, is not amused!

Published November 13, 2003

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(US) - 1956

CAST: Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong;

DIRECTOR: Charles Walters

SCRIPT: John Patrick (Philip Barry's play)

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen format; English 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Celeste Holm hosts Cole Porter in Hollywood: True Love; Premiere Newsreel; audio-only radio ads; Cinemascope Cartoon Millionaire Droopy; Trailer; Trailer for Philadelphia; behind the scenes notes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: November 12, 2003

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