The Philadelphia Story (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Philadelphia Story1940

The Philadelphia Story (1940)



Critic Consensus: Offering a wonderfully witty script, spotless direction from George Cukor, and typically excellent lead performances, The Philadelphia Story is an unqualified classic.

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Movie Info

Set among the upper class in 1930s Philadelphia, this irreverent classic romantic comedy features radiant performances by three legendary stars. On the eve of her marriage to an uninteresting man, a headstrong socialite jousts verbally with her charming ex-husband, drinks too much champagne, and flirts outrageously with a handsome reporter.

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Cary Grant
as C.K. Dexter Haven
James Stewart
as Macauley Connor
John Howard
as Kittredge
Roland Young
as Uncle Willie
Mary Nash
as Margaret
Henry Daniell
as Sidney Kidd
Rex Evans
as Thomas
Hilda Plowright
as Librarian
Lita Chevret
as Manicurist
Lee Phelps
as Bartender
Claude King
as Willie's Butler
Robert de Bruce
as Dr. Parsons
Dorothy Fay
as Mainliner
Helene Whitney
as Mainliner
Hillary Brooke
as Mainliner
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Critic Reviews for The Philadelphia Story

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (12)

Miss Hepburn, as a comedienne, is perhaps a greater star than she ever was at any prior cinema period, as a serious actress. This comes near being her champion achievement.

April 22, 2019 | Full Review…

This frothy theatre adaptation dates from the period when Hollywood had pretty much perfected the art of the romantic comedy.

February 17, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Still a sparkling delight.

February 13, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Utterly beguiling, funny and romantic ...

February 12, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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.

December 16, 2013 | Full Review…

In short, The Philadelphia Story lifts the daily drudge into a charming never-never land, with complete footnotes excusing its existence. And besides, it's a good, entertaining show.

April 23, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Philadelphia Story

A work that stands squarely on a wonderfully witty script that nearly redefines the word bouncy, and a thing of beauty to see performed. The work for me has one niggling flaw and I hesitate even to mention it, but here goes: Kate Hepburn as desirable? Every male in the film literally falls all over themselves over her, but I am struck speechless. Am I the only one scratching his head over that? I kept wishing that she had exchanged roles with Ruth Hussey (Grant and she share only one brief scene together but I get more heat from that exchange than anything else in the whole film) but nobody's listening to me anyway. Hepburn, I understand, grabbed the rights of the piece and made sure it was made especially for her, but I alone wonder what type of woman were the words originally intended for, and how it would have played - I can't believe it was for Hepburn's type. Cukor outdoes himself again, despite the handicap.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


A witty romantic comedy with a refined, intelligent dialogue and sharp performances, especially Hepburn and Stewart, although I feel reluctant to accept the sexist way that it correlates a woman's strong character with her being a prig, as if humbling and taming were the same.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

It's Katharine Hepburn's picture, but with as fetching a lineup of the talent as is to be found, she's got to fight every clever line of dialog all of the way to hold her lead. Pushing hard is little Virginia Weidler, the kid sister, who has as twinkly any eye with a fast quip as a blinker light. Ruth Hassey is another from whom director George Cukor has milked maximum results to get a neat blend of sympathy-winning softness under a python-tongued smartaleckness. As for Cary Grant, James Stewart and Roland Young, there's little to be said that their reputation hasn't established. John Howard, John Halliday and Mary Nash, in lesser roles, more than adequately fill in what Philip Barry must have dreamt of when he wrote the 1939 play. The perfect conception of all flighty but characterful Main Line socialite gals rolled into one, Hepburn has just the right amount of beauty, just the right amount of disarray in wearing clothes, just the right amount of culture in her voice - it's no one but Hepburn. When the acid tongues are turned on at beginning and end of the film, it's a laugh-provoker from way down. When the discussion gets deep and serious, however, on the extent of Hepburn's stone-like character, the verbiage is necessarily highly abstract and the film slows to a toddle.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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