High Society (1956)
Director: Charles Walters
Starring: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra
Socialite Tracy Lord (Kelly) is getting married, however her first husband, C. K. Dexter (Crosby), is still in love with her and when a journalist (Sinatra) arrives to cover the nuptials, Tracy suddenly has more than one suitor vying for her attention.
- Nominated for two Academy Awards (1957): Best Music – Original Song (Cole Porter, ‘True Love’) and Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture
Stardust well and truly caught me in the eye watching this. From Kelly’s exquisite dresses to Louis Armstrong’s melodious voice and wonderful jazz band, and from Sinatra’s cheeky antics to Crosby’s soulful crooning, there’s a lot to enjoy about High Society.
Having not watched The Philadelphia Story before – or even knowing that it existed – I watched High Society with zero expectations, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kelly is perfection in the role of the charming, somewhat whimsical and naïve, Tracy Lord. It is almost poignant that the first film I watch starring her is the last film she ever made; I look forward to watching her other performances.
This was the first time I’d seen Sinatra on screen: I found him to be very enigmatic and thought he had an easy, enjoyable chemistry with Celeste Holm’s Liz Imbrie (his colleague sent to cover the wedding with him). I thoroughly enjoyed their rendition of Cole Porter’s ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, written for the film.
While Crosby has a wonderful singing voice, I found his appearance – or perhaps it was his character’s personality – quite lacklustre. Sharing scenes with Sinatra their friendship was clearly apparent, and I enjoyed the banter between Crosby’s Dexter and John Lund’s George Kittredge (Tracy’s betrothed).
However, it is his scenes with Kelly’s Tracy – arguably the most pivotal of the film – that I found he was more paternal than romantic, less passionate and more platonic. Perhaps it is watching the film over 60 years later as a modern viewer, but I felt that there was something missing.
That said, there’s a lot to enjoy about High Society, and it certainly is a treat having three of the greats from the Golden Age of Hollywood appearing on screen together. Add in Armstrong to the mix and songs that add to the story, it’s an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.