What a swelegant, elegant movie this is
High Society, MGM was pretty lucky to secure the talents of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm, and Louis Armstrong to get involved in this great musical adaption of The Philadelphia Story.
Cole Porter contributed a great original score for this film with songs very specifically written to suit the talents of High Society’s players. I do wish Celeste Holm had been given more to do than just the duet with Frank Sinatra, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. On Broadway Celeste Holm was a musical star with Oklahoma and Bloomer Girl to her credit, but MGM didn’t want to recognize that.
For this film, the story is reset from Philadelphia to Newport, Rhode Island to bring in the famous Jazz Festival. Philip Barry’s social commentary is toned down and a very partisan Greek Chorus is added in the person of Mr. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Satchmo tells you right up front who he’s pulling for to win Grace Kelly and he helps musically along the way.
Satch and Bing have that classic Now You Has Jazz duet, so successful was it that they did an album together a few years later. Bing Crosby during his life was crazy about jazz musicians and there was no one he liked better than Louis Armstrong. No one on the planet could resist that man’s joy for living.
Grace Kelly got a chance to bat 1000 in the recording industry. She was no singer as she would have freely admitted, but Cole Porter wrote True Love specifically to accommodate her limited range and when she does the last two bars of True Love with Der Bingle she got a million selling record for her one and only platter. As for Bing he got his 20th Gold record and the only one not with Decca records.
True Love was nominated for Best Song at the Oscars but lost to Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera which boomed all over the charts in 1956. It was sadly Cole Porter’s last opportunity to win an Oscar for one of his movie songs.
Frank Sinatra got a couple of good ballads in You’re Sensational and Mind If I Make Love to You, but what he’s best remembered for is that classic Well Did You Evah duet with Bing. Today’s fans can’t possibly appreciate the screen meeting of the two best and best known singers for the previous generations. A musical summit conference.
High Society’s tone is a lot lighter than the Philadelphia Story. The cast in terms of acting ability are not in the same league as Grant, Stewart, Hepburn, and Hussey. But folks it is a musical. I doubt those stars could have carried off the Cole Porter score.
You can’t miss with a cast like this, in either film for that matter.