Monday, May 10, 2010

Movie Log: The Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday

I've gotten way behind in writing about the movies I've seen -- it's my natural state; I'm afraid -- so I expect I'll be jamming them together into clumps more often.

For instance, The Wife and I saw two movies from 1940 starring Cary Grant recently: The Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday. Both are classics of cinema that don't need me to explain them, or promote them. But both are still very entertaining today -- Philadelphia has great performances from Jimmy Stewart and Katherine Hepburn, a nice line in sublimated sex-talk, and the kind of fun drunk scenes that Hollywood got too prissy to countenance a generation ago; while Friday has excellent rat-a-tat dialogue and a tough sensibility that feels vastly more modern than most of the squishy-brained movies of our decade (or any decade) -- and both are well worth tracking down for anyone who hasn't seen them yet.

The Wife was surprised at how frank and matter-of-fact both movies are about divorce -- in both of them, Grant has been divorced from the female lead, but still carries a muted flame for her. I suspect she's been influenced by the kind of people who mythologize the past to demonize the present -- people in 1940 were just as human as we are now, and so just as likely to fall in and out of love, to screw up their lives and to want to get away from each other. And that's just one more reason to find the time to watch great old movies -- they remind us that people 70 years ago were people, much like us in so many ways, and that their lives were a lot like our own, even without Internets and cellphones and digital watches.

I'm hoping to see more old movies this year, since I'm coming to believe it's better to see a good movie, even if it's old, than to see a new one, even if it's lousy.
Listening to: The Arrogants - I've Seen The Light
via FoxyTunes


Laurel Lyon said...

If you haven't seen it, I recommend The Lady Eve.

Unknown said...

Great choices, and an even better point on old movies versus new! Check out the Thin Man if The Wife hasn't seen it. Thanks for reminding me of the Philadelphia Story. It's high time I revisited it.

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