Friday, April 22, 2011

Fab Flick Friday: High Society

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Royal Wedding is one week away.


In honor of the big event, it seems only fitting that my first pick for Fab Flick Friday be High Society, a movie starring our very own American Princess, Grace Kelly.

I fell in love with Princess Grace when I was in the fourth grade, in the aisles of the local public library. We were given the assignment to read a biography for school, and being the overachiever that I was, I chose two. The first was on Amelia Earhart, fearless aviator and my mother’s personal hero; the second was about Grace Kelly -- a movie star who became a princess. I was a goner before I even cracked the spine. (When I later learned that she named her daughter Stephanie, that was just an added layer of buttercream on a perfectly frosted cupcake.)

There has never been anyone quite like Grace Kelly. She was stunning, while still adorable; an All-American girl who exuded an air of royalty long before she met Prince Rainier of Monaco. In her films, she showed range – from her dramatic Oscar-winning turn in The Country Girl, to her portrayal of a sly ingénue in To Catch a Thief, right down to her hilarious and heartwarming performance in High Society.

If you haven’t seen High Society - Grace’s last film before becoming Princess of Monaco - let me fill you in. A musical spin on The Philadelphia Story, it stars two of the world’s best crooners – Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra – singing a score by the most clever American songwriter of all time, Cole Porter. Add to that Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his legendary band, then center the whole thing around the woman who was about to become a princess. On paper, it sounds like a classic movie buff’s dream. On screen, it’s even better.

The story takes place on a grand estate in Newport, RI in the days leading up to the society wedding of Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly) and her very stuffy, very square fiancé, George (John Lund). Throw into the mix her ex husband/current neighbor Dexter (Bing, in some fancy white boat shoes) and two snooping-yet-good-hearted reporters from Spy magazine (Sinatra and Celeste Holm.) Forget a love triangle, this is more like a love hexagon, which only leads to delightfully zany hijinx and lots (and lots) of awesome singing. Every inch of this movie is pure fun, from Satchmo’s opening number (as a sort of singing/trumpet-playing narrator), to Bing and Frank’s iconic duet, “Well, Did You Evah?" The flashback scene featuring Bing and Grace singing the beautiful “True Love” may be one of the most quietly romantic moments in movie history, and it also earned Grace a Gold Record long before Frank Sinatra ever had one – a fact that became a long-running joke between the two friends.

High Society combines everything that is fun about movie musicals, romantic comedies, and madcap films of the ‘50s.  So while we may have to wait another week for the wedding of the century, why not spend this weekend watching a fictional society wedding, starring a princess of our very own?

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