Katherine Hepburn manages to play what some critics claim is Katherine Hepburn with consummate artistry. James Stewart acts out what is most certainly not James Stewart with considerably less success. And Cary Grant serves as an excellent back-drop for the two. Take the acting of these three, plus excellent support from the minor characters, a highly sophisticated (often too sophisticated) script, and excellent direction throughout, and you have "The Philadelphia Story," now at the U.T.
Miss Hepburn spends the first part of the picture in a highly cold and sober condition; as such she is commendable as an actress but not too attractive as a person, which is what some of her less admiring critics would have us believe is her off-the-screen personality. Be this as it may, in the later sequences she manages to become so convincingly human, so persuasively drunk, so thoroughly funny, that with a paunch, a red nose, a hoarse voice, and certain unmentionables she could easily pass for W. C. Fields.
James Stewart may still be dear to the hearts of the club women of America. Certainly his lovable simplicity, which has been built up in all his former pictures, is no less lovable or simple in this one. But the trouble is that while he is acting bewildered in "The Philadelphia Story" he should be trying to be cynical, and instead of that old Stewart expression of complete blankness he should for once try to conjure up, by some contortion of his face and his imagination, at least a slight hint of intelligence.