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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Philadelphia Story’: Hepburn at her best


Movie fans are well familiar with the name Katharine Hepburn. She's a Hollywood legend, having received a dozen Best Actress Oscar nominations, four of which she won: "Morning Glory" (1934), "Guess Who's Coming to Diner" (1968), "The Lion in Winter" (1969) and "On Golden Pond" (1982).

But you may not have known this: At one time, she was considered a failure, at least in box-office terms. Her films were flops.

All that changed, however, in 1940 when she starred in the stage-play adaptation, "The Philadelphia Story." Written By Donald Ogden Stewart (and Waldo Salt) and directed by George Cukor, the movie was taken from Philip Barry's Broadway play.

In the movie, Hepburn stars as a socialite who, on the eve of her second wedding, begins to question herself. Does she love her intended (John Howard), the reporter who has come to report on the event (James Stewart) or the man she divorced because he didn't meet her high standards (Cary Grant)?

"The Philadelphia Story" ended Hepburn's string of flops, becoming the fifth most popular U.S. film in 1941. It ended up being nominated for six Oscars, winning two: Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Writing (screenplay) and James Stewart for Best Supporting Actor.

The film also ranks high on several of the lists put out by the American Film Institute, which rates it as the No. 5 among its Top 10 romantic comedies.

And now Inland Northwest residents will have an opportunity to see why the film, and Hepburn, are held in such high esteem when the film plays at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday at two area Regal theaters: the Northtown Mall and Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone Stadium.

As John C. Mosher wrote in the New Yorker, "The film is a Hepburn triumph, and moviegoers who resent the theatre's habit of requisitioning their stars may feel that Miss Hepburn's time on the stage has not been spent in vain and that she simply prepared herself for this achievement."

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