Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Day In The Life Of A Toronto Maple Leafs Fan

I have a couple of links before I get started today. Yesterday was a Sunday, so check out our joint blog for our Snippet Sunday post. And check out Eve's poem.

Today I have something different. Longtime readers may remember when I took on the point of view of those deluded fools otherwise known as Chicago Cubs fans. Now I turn my attention to this side of the border with something similar, with the point of view of  a member of that pack of demented hooligans we call Leaf Nation. Strangely enough, writing his voice, it occurred to me that this unpleasant oaf was sounding an awful lot like my idiot-ex-brother-in-law, the hapless buffoon sometimes known as Cro-Magnon Mike.

If I happen to end up meeting a bad end, consider each and every Leaf fan a suspect.

10:45 AM. At home. Big day ahead. Hockey game tonight. Whistlin’ Hockey Night In Canada theme. Eating late breakfast of Canadian bacon dipped in maple syrup with a bottle of beer to top it off. At least it says maple syrup on the bottle, but I bought it at the grocery store, and my neighbour says it’s better to buy the pure stuff. What does he know? The stupid **** thinks the mayor and his family are a disgrace. Stupid ****er.

11:25 AM. Time to get myself started with my game day routine. Damned glad this is a weekend, otherwise my bosses would be raggin’ on me to get back to work. Stupid bosses, think they know everything.

11:27 AM. Watchin’ Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Seventeen, with my guru and life advisor Don Cherry hostin’. Yeah, man, this guy’s a genius. Pure genius. He thinks just like me. Smart guys like us, we gotta stick apart, right? No, wait, stick together. That’s the way it goes. Damn. Gotta stop drinkin’ so much booze, gets my brain all ****ed up. Wait a minute... stop drinkin’ so much booze? Am I crazy?

1:40 PM. Finished watchin’ over two hours of guys hittin’ each other and checkin’ hard on the ice. Yeah! This is sports as it’s supposed to be! And with Don the genius providin’ colour commentary! Yeah!

2:05 PM. Next stage of the game day prep. Gotta put some of the blue and white war paint on. Leafs Nation, baby!

2:10 PM. Takin’ a look in the mirror. Yeah, I look like a Habs fan’s worst nightmare. Pissed off Leafs fan wearing blue and white war paint. That’s good, because we’re gonna kick their team’s asses tonight and send those stupid ****ers back home to Montreal cryin’ in their Quebec beer.

2:25 PM. Puttin’ on the game sweater, the blue and white, the sacred Leafs jersey. I got this one signed by Wendell Clark and Tie Domi. Both guys salt of the earth, both of ‘em robbed of the chance to win a Stanley Cup. Stupid other teams refusin’ to just admit the Leafs are the greatest team in the history of the universe times infinity plus one. 

4:05 PM. Down outside the Air Canada Centre. Still three hours to game time, but that don’t mean we can’t have fun. Hey, there’s Jack and Harry! Hey, guys! Ready to watch the Habs get massacred tonight? Let’s go to one of the bars, get ourselves loaded before the game.

6:40 PM. Downing my latest bottle of beer. How many is that now? Don’t know, don’t care. Not like I got anyone to rag on me since my ex broke up with me. What the **** was her problem anyway? Suddenly I’m not a catch any woman would want? Speakin’ of which, hey there, babe, wanna score a hat trick with me or what? 

Oh, fine, be that way!

6:55 PM. Back down at the ACC. Headin’ inside the arena, scarfin’ down some hot dogs and burgers. Lots of Leafs fans out tonight, screamin’ for the blood of those stupid Habs. Yeah, man! I’m in my element! Harry, one of these days, the Leafs scouts are gonna see me playin’ in my bar league team and they’re gonna sign me! Mark my words!

Whaddya mean my knees are shot and I’m closin’ in on fifty? Why should that matter?

7:20 PM. Our boys and those stupid Habs are on the ice. National anthem bein’ sung in a moment. Too bad they can’t bring out Dougie or Rob to sing the anthem, am I right, Jack? Ford Nation! Leaf Nation! All the way, baby! Wooooo!!!!!!!!

7:22 PM. Anthem finished. Yeah! We stand on guard for me, baby! Or somethin’ like that. Hell, I mumble the words most of the time anyway. Let’s go Leafs! C’mon, baby!

7:28 PM. The puck is dropped. The ACC goes nuts. Yeah! This is our year, man! Stanley Cup, here we come!! Nothin’ can stop us now!!!!

7:29 PM. What the ****? How the **** did Subban get the puck past our guy? Ref! He ****in’ cheated! Disallow that goal, ref!  Bernier, keep your head in the game, man, we’re only thirty seconds into this thing!

7:40 PM. Harry? You wanna explain to me how Montreal can already be up four goals on our boys this early?

8:05 PM. In between periods. Wolfin’ down some hot dogs. Six goals unanswered by our boys? What the **** is this about? We’re supposed to be maulin’ those stupid ****s. Harry and Jack and me, we don’t like this one bit.

8:40 PM. Another two goals inside of thirty seconds? Come on, Bernier, my grandmother could be doin’ better goaltendin’ than that!

9:15 PM. What the ****???? Two periods down and our boys are behind fifteen to zero. Coach pulled out Bernier and put Reimer in the goal. The boys didn’t look good leavin’ the ice. Harry says one more goal and the Habs are gonna tie the record for most goals scored by one team in an NHL game ever. One more after that, and the record’s theirs. What makes it all the more insufferable is that it was their record already, goin’ back to the Twenties. Look, guys, lots of things can happen in the last period. Twenty minutes of play, boys, and our guys can come back from a fifteen to zero deficit, right? Leafs Nation, baby! Yeah!

9:25 PM. Subban just scored again! Now those stupid ****s tied the record! Hey! Somebody get the prospect from the farm team up here to goaltend! Bernier and Reimer both suck tonight!

9:29 PM. What the ****??? Parenteau scored on our net? Record broken???? What the **** is this? There’s a conspiracy, man, out to rob the Leafs of the Cup and wins and all the glory! And they’re all in on it! The League and the refs and the officials and every last one of ‘em! **** ‘em!

9:40 PM. This is a disaster. This is a calamity. Down twenty five goals to zero with thirty seconds left on the clock. Yeah, this is a cataclysm for the ages.

9:41 PM. Buzzer for the end of the game. Twenty six to zero. Habs on the ice celebratin’ and rubbin’ it in. You ****ers just had to do that. It’s like rubbin’ salt on an open wound, you ****ers. But do you ****ers care? No, you’re too busy gloatin’! Harry, Jack.... I gotta get boozed up. Anything to dull the pain of losin’ this ****in’ bad.

10:20 PM. Back in the bar with lots of Leafs fans. People cryin’. Like they lost their best friend. Like they just heard Don Cherry died. We’re busy gettin’ hammered. How the **** do we get back from a night like this?

11:15 PM. Buncha guys talkin’ bout how we’ve been screwed over since 1967. Somebody’s behind it, man. I mean, a bad luck streak can’t go on this ****in’ long, can it?

12:47 AM. Totally hammered. Me and Jack and Harry shrug this whole night off. **** it, it’s just one ****in’ game, man. Our boys come back next time and smack around whoever the **** we’re playin’ next. Yeah! Leafs Nation, baby! This is gonna be our year! Stanley Cup comin’ home

2:40 AM. Finally drag myself into the house. Gonna have a bad ass hangover in the mornin’, man. Collapse on the couch. Too tired to make it to bed. Geez, hope I don’t throw up on myself in my sleep.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Gotham City Before The Dark Knight

Some links before I get started today. Norma had a Friday photoblog at her page yesterday. Parsnip enlisted the Square Dogs for her usual Square Dog Friday. Krisztina had an interesting pumpkin concept at her blog plus an oatmeal suggestion. And Shelly wrote about Rosh Hashanah.

Now then, new and returning shows are upon us here as fall gets underway. I thought I would take a look at the opening of a new series.

I was expecting to be disappointed.

When I first heard of the notion of a series about Gotham City, but before there was a Batman, I was skeptical. Bruce Wayne as a boy? The main character being the young police officer who will one day become Commissioner Gordon? Further details left me dubious. Poison Ivy and Catwoman as characters? The casting of Ben McKenzie, a refugee from the not at all missed teen drama The O.C. as Jim Gordon? I felt that this was going to be a mistake, so I went in with low expectations.

And after watching the pilot for Gotham, I was instead surprised.

The first episode deals with the case that started it all: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne by an unknown gunman in the streets of Gotham, witnessed by their son Bruce (David Mazouz). It’s also witnessed by someone else, a street thief not that much older than Bruce, one we recognize to be Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). The detectives sent out to the scene from the nearest precinct are the two characters who will be front and center through the series, and they’re as different as night and day. Jim Gordon (McKenzie) is a newly promoted detective from the ranks, trying to find his way, still idealistic, still a believer in the ideas of law and justice. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is a slovenly, corrupt veteran with a chip on his shoulder and very little in the way of ethics. The two have been recently assigned as partners, and don’t particularly like each other. Bullock, upon recognizing the victims, would rather see the case handed up to the Major Crimes Unit. Gordon instinctively comforts the distraught Bruce and makes a promise to him.

Bruno Heller developed the concept for the series, drawing on the history of the Batman and his city in the DC comics world. There’s a good deal of influence from a comic book series, Gotham Central, which dealt with the detectives of the Major Crimes Unit in the world of the Dark Knight. Some relationships have shifted; some characters altered, but not overly much. Where Bullock is a junior officer compared to Gordon in the comics, here he is the senior, reluctantly working with a detective who doesn’t share his corruption. Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) is their precinct captain, quite a difference from the comics, where she was Jim Gordon’s second wife. Two detectives from Major Crimes have more of an antagonistic relationship with both Gordon and Bullock than what you might expect from the comics versions, but at the same time, in personality, the two are just as I would have imagined them, and it was a surprise to see their inclusion. Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) come across as dismissive of the rampant corruption in other parts of the police department, and suspicious of both Gordon and Bullock. Renee’s inclusion in the series, even if she’s not considered a main cast member, is very welcome; she’s a character I really like.

The first episode, directed by Danny Cannon, is permeated with the dark, moody, bleak aspect of Gotham, even, it seems, in daytime. It’s a place out of a noir movie, filled with corruption, graft, violence, and a sense of hopelessness. The pilot certainly establishes that in the way buildings look, the way characters behave, and the interactions between key players. It is a city dominated for all purposes by crime bosses, the most powerful being Carmine Falcone (John Doman), familiar from the comics and from his appearance in Batman Begins. Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is one of his lieutenants, a woman with her own ambitions to oust him. She runs her operations out of a night club, and among her employees is the slightly nasal and rather creepy Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), who’s been nicknamed Penguin by his fellow mobsters. It’s a name he doesn’t like.

It’s also a world full of secrets. One must wonder just how connected Fish is to Bullock; they seem much too comfortable around each other. Gordon’s fiancĂ©e Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) has an encounter with Renee, and things are said between them. There’s history between the two women, and a lot of subtext, and considering Renee came out of the closet in Gotham Central, there’s every reason to expect there is or was a romantic relationship between these two characters. Yet Gordon seems to have no idea.

The casting for these characters seems to have been done with great care. We meet Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), a coroner who likes riddles (one day he’ll be the Riddler). He looks the part, and annoys Bullock in a way that could easily foreshadow what’s to come. There’s a girl named Ivy, about Bruce’s age. She’s played by Clare Foley, and she gives the character a slightly disturbed quality; it’s quite fitting, as this appears to be the woman who’ll eventually become Poison Ivy. Camren Bicondova’s casting as Selina Kyle is an interesting one; she’s the first character we meet, and she’s largely silent through her appearances in the pilot. I wondered how you could have a Catwoman in this sort of series and have her be that much older than Bruce, but the age difference is a handful of years; she’s pretty much a kid herself. And yet she’s resourceful, stealing to stay alive, knowing the back alleys and rooftops better than anyone, all the better to make an escape. What she does convey in this opening for the series is an empathy as she shadows the young Bruce at a distance; witnessing what happened to him clearly has an effect on her, and Bicondova brings that largely through her eyes and expressions.

Taylor’s an interesting choice for a younger Penguin. He plays the role as something of an opportunistic, socially awkward creep (much like you’d expect out of the standard depiction of the character in comics). Yet there’s a lack of confidence in the character as we might expect in years to come; still, there is something dangerous in the character, and it makes for the sort of person you’d cross the street to avoid. Doman embodies the ruthlessness of Falcone as I would expect the character to be; when at last we see him, he’s reinforcing his authority in an unusual way, demonstrating his clear belief that the city belongs to him, and he’ll fight for it. Jada Pinkett Smith is a surprise as the new character Fish Mooney. She can be sweet and lovely in one moment, and utterly ruthless in the next moment. This is a woman you really do not want to cross.

Erin Richards surprised me as well. Barbara is a character that’s more often referenced in comics than seen; the marriage ended, and while she’s made appearances, she has not been a major figure in the way Jim Gordon was. Richards plays her as supportive and loving, and yet the notion of keeping secrets is right there from the beginning, even though those secrets are about her. Sean Pertwee turns up as the Wayne butler Alfred Pennyworth. He’s wary of the police, intensely protective of his young charge. There are already hints of the surrogate father role for him in how he relates to Bruce, and yet he’s willing to break the traditional butler role and chide the boy for what seems to be a moment of recklessness, and yet isn’t- it’s a hint of the future. David Mazous has the difficult prospect of playing the young Bruce Wayne; the audience knows where his future will take him, but for now, he’s carrying the burden of sorrow, starting out as a boy who’s just lost his parents. His howl of grief is an agonizing one, particularly because the audience already knows his ultimate destiny, and it is followed by hints of a boy who’s not a child anymore, but one who is starting out on his own path.

One of the two lead actors surprised me; the other did not. Donal Logue is the one who didn’t surprise me. He’s a veteran character actor I’ve seen in many roles, and here he plays Bullock. He’s perhaps leaner than I would picture the character in the comics, but he fits the role perfectly. He’s rumpled, surly, and looks like shaving is something he might think of every other month. He looks like he sleeps in his clothes. There’s a temper there; he doesn’t like his new partner, and he doesn’t mind showing that. He is thoroughly corrupt, and yet at the same time, underneath it all, there’s something resembling ethics in his personality; he acts to save his partner just because they’re partners.

Ben McKenzie did surprise me. I was expecting the worst, a refugee from a pointless television show that isn’t missed at all. He played a teenager in that show full of teenagers, but it’s been a few years now. Instead we see the idealistic officer in a city filled with graft; he doesn’t like what he sees around him, and he still believes in justice. It brings him into conflict with those around him, even those he is supposed to work with, but even so, his principles remain with him. They’re summed up foremost in an understanding with a grief stricken boy.

And so we have the first episode behind us, one strongly emphasizing the character and personality of each member of its murky cast. Where can Gotham go? That would be the question. It feels more like a police procedural and crime drama, which for all intents and purposes it is. It is a story of one good man in a bad town, unsure of who to trust. And all the while, the hints of the future have already been established. I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who Invited Ethan To The Wedding?

I have some links before we get things underway today. Norma had Minions all over her blog. Maria had a food idea at her blog. Cheryl wrote about travels. The Whisk had cinnamon rolls. And Krisztina had a food use at her blog, as well as a pic of the week. 

Now then, today I have something different. In the past I've done the occasional socially awkward (to say the least) eulogies at funerals. I thought I'd turn that convention around and have a peculiar interruption at a wedding. For the record, I have no idea who's worse: the groom or the speaker. You decide.

"I'm sorry, Reverend? I hate to interrupt, but you did just ask if anyone had any reason why these two should not be joined in marriage. I know that's usually just a formality and no one really does stand up and object, but I just can't stand by and watch this happen without saying at least something about it. Even if the bride's mother is shooting daggers at me with her eyes right now. With all due respect, Mrs. Worthington, in the long run you might thank me for what I'm doing today.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Ethan. I've been friends with the groom for a long while. Alex and I went to college together, chased girls, got into trouble, and somehow managed to graduate and get into good careers. How did we do that again, Alex? I mean, without resorting to blackmail?

Well, that's really beside the point. Let's just say that Alex and I have known each other a long time. That means I know him well. We've done a lot, saw the elephant, and chased glory. Which is getting kind of off topic, and I shouldn't be going off topic, because this is serious. Deadly serious. And by deadly, I mean someone might want to kill someone else before the evening is through, and as long as I'm not the victim, I'm okay with that.

I'm not going to come out and say I'm a good guy or anything. I mean, there are plenty of good reasons I haven't gotten married. I just don't see much point in getting tied down into commitments when I've got too many wild oats to sow, if you know what I mean. And if you know what I mean, maybe you could tell me why anyone still uses that expression anymore. What I'm saying is that I still date. A lot. Right now I'm stringing along four different women, and believe me, it's not that easy keeping their names straight and preventing them from ever meeting one another. Fortunately none of them are in attendance today, though I see a few of my exes here in the congregation. Hello there, Tiffany. How are you, Alicia? Kate, you're looking rather pregnant. Fortunately that's not mine, because we broke up three years ago.

As usual, I'm getting off track. You'll have to forgive me. I usually do this in a courtroom to try to distract the jury by wandering off in all sorts of strange directions. It's a good technique for a defense attorney. Where was I? Oh, yes, the reasons why Caroline should think twice about marrying Alex.

It was five days ago. I had to slip out of my ex-girlfriend Brooke's house. The reason she's my ex is that she had a husband she never told me about. There we are, having our way with each other, and we hear his voice call out as he comes in downstairs. She said she wasn't expecting him back until the next day! I mean seriously, I may be a cad, a knave, and a womanizing jerk, but at least I'm not cheating on someone I'm married to! So there I was scrambling out the back door with my clothes under one arm, hoping I'm not getting caught, and I made it over the fence. As far as I know, Peter had no idea I was even there. Unless Peter happens to be here today. No? Good.  

Anyway, there I am, getting dressed as fast as I can, because on this side of the fence was the Catholic church, and the last thing the Sisters need to see is a naked Ethan out there in all his glory. It might inspire them to lust... and actually, there was this time when Sister Mary Frances and I...

I'm getting off topic again. I'm sorry, what can I say? It happens. Anyway, it occurred to me that I could hide in the church, take a breather, and collect my thoughts. So I go inside, and there's no one in the sanctuary. Which is when I heard doors open nearby. I panicked, okay? It was just nerves, but when you've nearly been caught by your girlfriend's husband in flagrante delicto, you're not always thinking straight. I thought it was him, coming after me. So I hid in the confessional booth.

What I didn't realize was that it was the priest's side. I mean, seriously, I'm not Catholic, so how was I supposed to know which side to get into? So I heard the footsteps walking down from the door. They paused at the booth. Here I am, figuring Peter's come to kill me, and I'm cornered and I'm about to die in a confession booth, and for all that trouble, I didn't even finish with Brooke, if you know what I mean. 

So there I was. And I heard him get into the other side of the confessional and sit down. And I'm thinking he's going to kill me and I'm going to die, and it might be in a way that doesn't leave a handsome corpse. I couldn't see him properly through the screen, but then he spoke. And it wasn't Peter. It was a voice I knew quite well. It was Alex.

He said he wasn't Catholic, but he needed to make a confession. I didn't know what to do. I mean, I'm stuck there, how the hell do I explain this whole thing? So I mustered up a bit of a raspy voice to make him not know it was me, and said, go on. And then he started telling me his confession. It seems that despite what I thought, and what everyone else might have thought, Alex wasn't being all that faithful to his fiancee. He told me of the six other women he's been seeing on the side. I mean, really, Alex? Seven women in your life at once? I thought my five at a time, counting Brooke, was hard enough to keep track of, and you've got seven. You've got me beat by two, man! And don't look at me like that!

Alex kept talking. He mentioned all of them by name. Only one of them is here, I see. Janice, how do you live with yourself standing up for Caroline, being a bridesmaid while you're having sex with the groom? In multiple positions? Yes, Caroline, I'm sorry to have to be the one bearing bad tidings, but Janice has betrayed you in just as much of a fashion as Alex. I mean, close friends aren't supposed to do this to each other.

I know what some of you might be thinking. Isn't Ethan a close friend of Alex?  Where does he get off  saying that about close friends considering what he's doing? Well, despite my reputation as a hound and a player, I just can't stand by and watch Alex get married to a woman who has no idea how much of a dog her husband is. Caroline, you really had to know this before you made a mistake. Alex will be cheating on you every single day for the rest of his life. It's his nature. There's no changing him. Once a dog, always a dog. And I'm probably insulting dogs. 

Anyway, so Alex spent a half hour going into detail about his various action on the side, talking about it all in graphic detail. I mean, seriously, Alex, you thought I was the priest? Were you trying to drive a priest crazy by reminding him of everything he can't have? Finally I just muttered something about honesty and he left. 

I swear everything I just said is the truth. And take one good look at your groom, Caroline. That fear and panic in his eyes? You know I'm telling the truth. I'll leave you to tearing him apart. Reverend, I'm sorry for the interruption.

By the way, Caroline, if you happen to feel like having revenge sex, I'm in the market."

Monday, September 22, 2014

High Comedy And Great Chemistry

Some links before I get started today. Yesterday having had been a Sunday, we had a Snippet Sunday at our joint blog. Lena writes about change. The Whisk had this much too cute lab result. Lorelei wrote about the fiftieth anniversary of  Bewitched. And Mark had some crossover fanfiction going on.

Today I have a movie review...

"The time to make your mind up about people is never." ~ Tracy Lord

"We all go haywire at times, and if we don't, we ought to." ~ Liz Imrie

"I'm sorry, but I thought I'd better hit you before he did. He's in better shape than I am." ~ C.K. Dexter Haven
"Well you'll do!" ~ MacCauley Connor

The Philadelphia Story is the 1940 film adaptation of the Broadway play by Philip Barry, telling the story of a socialite getting married and the complications presented by her ex-husband and two reporters turning up for the occasion. Starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Ruth Hussey, the film deals with family dynamics, class differences, and strong characterization, all while bringing a good sense of humour and splendid chemistry between its actors to the equation. Hepburn acquired rights to the play at a time when she was considered box office poison. The movie would be nominated for Oscars, winning two, and stands up well decades later as a true classic.

A prelude scene some years earlier sets up the end of the marriage of Tracy Lord (Hepburn) and C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) as he walks out on her. In the present, she's about to marry George Kittredge (John Howard, a fellow who's worked his way up and thinks of himself as a man of the people. Tabloid publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) wants the wedding covered, assigning writer MacCauley "Mike" Connor (Stewart) and photographer Liz Imrie (Hussey) to crash the wedding. He sets them up with Dexter, one of his former employees, to get them access to the family, using scandalous material he has on Tracy's philandering father to be the leverage to get the Lords to play along. Tracy doesn't like the intrusions of her ex and these strangers, but placed into a dilemma because of potential scandal, she welcomes the reporters into her home, trying to present herself and her family as joyously looking forward to the society wedding. Along the way she finds herself drawn back to Dexter while intrigued by the cynical reporter who would rather be anywhere else.

Barry wrote the play in the first place with Hepburn in mind, and she played the role on Broadway. She deftly arranged rights to the director and cast, asking George Cukor, with whom she'd worked before, to helm the film as director. Grant and Stewart came on board after the original choices, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, were unavailable; Grant had starred with Hepburn before, particularly in Bringing Up Baby. Ruth Hussey (The Uninvited) was cast in the fourth major role as Liz. The writing is clever and doesn't mind reminding the audience that it's smart. At the same time, there's such a rich, dry sense of humour to the film as a whole. The film spoke to audiences at the time, becoming a box office success and winning the Oscars for James Stewart and for the adapted screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart.

The production was done on studio sets, with the right amount of attention to detail to suggest the high society that the Lords travel in, contrasting that with Mike and Liz, who actually have to work for a living. We see this in things like the clothing for the cast, the props on set, the lavish wedding arrangements. We can agree with Mike when he finds himself perplexed with the extensions of a house phone- even one out to the stables. He's out of his usual element, and that kind of detail is a nice touch underscoring the difference in classes that plays out through the film. There are aspects of the story that are very much of its time, but the story as a whole stands the test of time.

Even while that class difference is emphasized, it's also undermined in the way characters relate to each other as the story goes along. George, who's come up from the working class, nonetheless feels uncomfortable with his rising status, and comes across as a man with a chip on his shoulders towards the rich. Dexter, who's comfortably wealthy and doesn't need to work, can cross boundaries and respects and gets along with simple workers like the night watchman for the Lord family. Mike has something of a similar chip on his shoulder about the rich, but as things move along and he gets a look at how the rich live and the problems they must deal with, his point of view must change. Tracy, for her part, is preoccupied with the reputation of her well to do family, and finds herself surprised by the thoughtfulness of a reporter who isn't quite what she expected.

The cast is spot on in their performances. Mary Nash plays Tracy's mother Margaret as the social matron who's trying to manage her daughters and deal with the open secret that her husband is a rake. She's sympathetic, though she doesn't care for the intrusion of reporters in her home. John Halliday plays her wandering husband Seth Lord, finally turning up midway. He has a more difficult role to play; it's hard to be sympathetic to a guy who's fundamentally selfish. It's much easier to like his brother William, aka Uncle Willie, played by Roland Young (even if Uncle Willie is a complete scoundrel). William is a flirt and a rascal, perhaps with too much of a fondness for drink, but we like him anyway. Virginia Weidler plays the other daughter in the Lord marriage, the teenaged Dinah. She's a smart aleck as a character, curious about the goings-on of her sister and not happy at all at how her mother and sister try to shield her from potential scandals in the family. John Howard also gets to play a less than sympathetic role as George, resentful and insecure as a person, but Howard takes that aspect of the role and runs with it.

Ruth Hussey has a wry sense about her role as Liz. Her character has worked with Mike for years, and she's fond of him, but doesn't want to tie him down. You get the sense with the way Hussey plays her that Liz is the one character who sees things very clearly. She has great chemistry with Stewart, and the same applies to the way she relates to Grant. And we even see a friendship form between her character and Tracy.

James Stewart gets to have fun playing Mike. He's a writer who doesn't like working for the tabloids, but he needs to make a living, so he gets on with it. There's a personal pride in the character- he wants to make his own way in the world instead of rely on a benefactor. Mike is a cynic when we first meet him, and a funny one- his phone exchange with Margaret before they even meet is a great laugh, and it's such a contrast from the usual inherently decent nice guy we tend to think of when we think of James Stewart. He has fine chemistry with both Hepburn and Hussey, and his character comes to get along well with Dexter.

Grant is another marvel in his role. There's a laid back sensibility to his role, an amused outlook. And yet he's acting to try to protect his former wife and her family from scandal. He sees his ex for the person she is, and can be blunt about her impossibly high standards, but he still loves her regardless. Grant brings his considerable charm to the role, and it certainly does come across throughout the film.

Hepburn initially starts out as a bit of an ice queen- she holds herself up as above it all, concerns herself with her family's reputation, and seems unforgiving at first. But she loosens up as things go along, finding herself rethinking her engagement, her ex-husband, and the reporter. It's a natural, organic process for the character as she changes, and for the audience as we go along, we like her more. By the time she's had too much to drink and greets Dexter and Mike in friendly ways and her fiance with a frown, we've completely warmed up to her.

The Philadelphia Story remains a classic today, an elegant comedy with a romantic sensibility that gives us likable, human characters with depth. The characters come to like each other, relate well to each other, and we get to like them too. It has a splendid cast inhabiting their roles, and has earned its reputation as one of the great films of the era. Have you seen it?