Welcome, dear readers, to a new series I like the call The Classic List. This is, of course, a reference to my obsession with old school Hollywood movies. It cannot be denied that there is something inherent within a classic film that makes one long for men in three-piece suits, swanky language, and a little swooning. And if there are a few musical numbers thrown in along the way, well, all the better. So get ready for a trip down memory lane as we take a look at some of the classics at the top of my list.
High Society is probably my favorite movie musical. The snappy story of an heiress on the eve of her wedding, whose house is crashed by a couple of tabloid reporters (who are convinced that there is a juicy story to tell), and whose ex-husband lives next door and simply cannot let her go is full of twists, turns, and fabulous songs. The music was all written and composed by Cole Porter, and the movie itself is actually a re-telling of A Philadelphia Story which had been a hit quite a few years earlier, starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and James Stewart.
Now that you know the basics, lets get down to the good stuff, the swag, that hard-to-name thing that makes this a classic. I'll have to concede that part of the appeal is the amazing cast: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, and even Louis Armstrong. Bing is one of my favorite crooners, and he and Grace have such chemistry that you'll be begging the TV for her character, Sam, to move past whatever it is that has made her so resistant to her ex-husband, Dexter. It's clear that these two are fated to be together and no matter that Sam is about to be married to George and the handsome Mike Conner (Frank Sinatra) is falling for her, she simply cannot deny Dexter's magnetism. He also wrote her a song, which in my opinion, is prime YES!TOMARRIAGE material. C'mon, Sam, stop stalling, we all know you want him.
I feel I should also mention that Dexter and Mike sing a nice little duet together, which is full of awesome, witty, rhyming banter:
It's not every day you get two for the price of one, great American singers, in the same movie. Which is probably why I love this scene so much, we get the chance to see two vocalists, each with a different style, come together and sing a fabulously catchy song.
The cast certainly isn't the only thing to love about High Society. Grace Kelly's wardrobe alone is enough to make me wish for a time-machine so I could go back to the days when gorgeous dresses, perfect coiffures, and glitzy jewelry were the norm. The men don't look too shabby either in their perfectly tailored suits and shined shoes. Talk about Swag-induced swooning...
Really, though, the heart of this movie, is the love story. Despite Samantha's coldness, and her aversion to falling in "true love", Dexter refuses to give up on her. He realizes that her father's philandering and her privileged (read: not exactly loving) upbringing don't lend themselves to a person with an open heart. So, he waits. He waits while she runs off and gets engaged to another rich millionaire whom she no more cares for than the man in the moon. And somewhere in between Samantha's often absentee fiancee and the handsome, shameless flirt of a reporter, Dexter sneaks up on her and they fall in love all over again.
In a way, it's rather like one of Sally's proposal's gone wrong. You spend the first half of the movie yelling at the screen, because it's so obvious that Dex and Sam are still hopelessly in love with one another. There may not be any crying jags involved, but it's just as gut-wrenching watching Dexter try to make Samantha open her eyes to what's been in her heart all along.
So, dear readers, I'm dying to know: Does High Society make your classic list? Which crooner would you want to end up with? And if you have yet to partake of the fabulousness of this classic, then, you have your weekend homework.