As stated before I am quite enamored with most things vintage and that includes classic movies. At least once a month I pick one movie and use this as an excuse to make a cocktail and canapé (appetizer or hors d’oeuvres if you prefer) from around the time the movie was released. I decided that I would start documenting this on the ol’ blog. I warn you that I am a SUCKER for musicals so quite a bit will be featured in this spot. Also I am not a movie critic in any way shape or form so don’t expect any in depth film analysis or intelligent critique.
So for the first movie I will be talking about the MGM 1956 musical High Society which stars Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Also Louis Armstrong acts and sings in the movie playing a sort of Greek chorus role. It was directed by Charles Walters and was filmed in Vistavision and Technicolor. It is a musical remake of the 1940 classic The Philadelphia Story starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart. This was Grace Kelly’s last movie before marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco. To go with it I made a Champagne Fizz for a cocktail and Blue Cheese Rolls which I will posting about tomorrow.
My sloppy attempt at recapping the story with some definite spoilers and most likely leaving important details out:
The film begins the day before the upcoming nuptials of socialite Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly) to George Kittredge (John Lund). Much to her annoyance, her ex husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) appears at his adjacent and just as fancy estate. He also drags along Louis Armstrong and his band (all playing themselves) to stay at his place to prepare for the upcoming Newport Jazz Festival that Dexter conveniently planned on the day of Tracy’s wedding. Of course Dexter clearly wants his ex wife back and has the complete support of Tracy’s younger sister Caroline (Lydia Reed) who is totally Team Dexter. She also as a little crush on him and we get treated to a kind of uncomfortable moment when Bing Crosby sings a love song to her.
The other elephant in the room is Tracy’s missing father who she did not invite due to his philandering with a much younger chorus girl. A magazine called Spy gets wind of this gossip and uses it to blackmail the family to getting exclusive access to Tracy’s society wedding in turn for not running the story. So enters reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (Frank Sinatra) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm). Liz and Mike are in a sort of kinda of relationship but a VERY understanding Liz realizes the Mike isn’t ready for commitment just yet. Eventually the father shows up unannounced for her wedding as well as drunk Uncle Willy who gets handsy with Liz several times throughout the movie. George the fiance pops up a few times here and there but doesn’t make much of an impact.
After overhearing Dexter sing the song he wrote for her and giving her the toy boat which causes the flashback to their honeymoon on said boat, Liz realizes she is still in love with Dexter. Though after a fight with her father where he blames her cold demeanor as a reason he cheats (I eye rolled so hard during this scene), she grabs Mike for a car ride. This paired with a drunken champagne pool scene later that night at her party makes her realize her attraction to Mike.
The day of the wedding boring George thinks Liz and Mike had inappropriate relations the night before. Liz realizes that she doesn’t want prefect and breaks off the wedding. To no surprise to the audience (especially if you have watched The Philadelphia Story), Dexter and Liz walk down the aisle and get married. Mike and Liz finally get together!
Things I swooned over:
Grace Kelly’s Costumes: Oh those gorgeous dresses. The blue dress, the nude wedding dress with the sheer applique overlay or the lovely ballgown Tracy ends up getting wet in the pool. They were all great. Honorable mention goes to Grace Kelly’s hair as well.
The Music: All those AMAZING Cole Porter songs. It starts with the opening scene with Louis Armstrong and his band preforming the High Society Calypso which I am still humming and singing since watching this movie. Then the Bing and Armstrong duo “Now You Has Jazz”. Not to mention “Well, Did You Evah!”, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Mind if I Make Love to You?”.
The Backgrounds– THEY WERE AMAZING!!! Especially the blue walls with the painted flowers. I could stare at those walls ALL DAY! Vistavision did them such justice.
Things I kinda sorta did not like:
Grace Kelly/ Katharine Hepburn– Sometimes with a Grace Kelly scene I would find myself thinking of Katharine Hepburn and how much the scene reminds me of her. I didn’t think about Cary Grant nor James Stewart but Hepburn would drift into my mind every once in a while.
The Backgrounds– I know I just got done earlier talking about how much I love them but that was a double edge sword. With the movie being filmed in Vistavision I often found my self distracted by the backgrounds. I would realized halfway through the scene that I was paying more attention to the blue walls then what was actually going on.
The Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly flashback scene– I get that this whole boat scene was supposed to show the audience that at one point Dexter and Tracy were completely happy and in love. Convince us that they work as a couple and ultimately should end up together. I just felt like it slowed down the middle of the movie and it wasn’t my favorite of the musical numbers.
Favorite Outfit: This blue dress that Grace Kelly wore in the scene were she was messing with Mike and Liz from Spy magazine. I know most people would probably choose the wedding dress but I couldn’t get past this dress.
Favorite Scene/Musical Number: The Celeste Holm and Frank Sinatra duo “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”. Celeste Holm was so good in this number that I wished she had another musical moment in the movie.
Favorite Character: To warn you I almost always like a side character more the main characters. Whether in books, movies or tv shows, it doesn’t matter. So it is no surprise to me that Liz Imbrie was my favorite character. She was sort of this calm and logical presences while the other three were acting a fool and she was part of my favorite song of the movie. Plus is gives me an excuse to feature a picture of Liz in my second favorite look of the movie.
Would I Watching It Again:
Yes I probably would. As the romantic musical lover that I am, I would just for those scenes. Is it an amazing and perfect remake of the original and classic movie? No and to be quite honest if it didn’t have the music in it I don’t think I would have liked it as much. But as is, yes I would watch it again if it came across my screen.
What is your thoughts on High Society? Things you liked or disliked? Any great trivia about the movie? Let me know below and stay tuned for tomorrow for the Champagne Fizz and Blue Cheese Rolls I made to go with this romantic musical!
3 thoughts on “Cocktails and Canapés : High Society (1956)”
This is one of my favorite movies, actually both versions!
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They both are great movies!