The Philadelphia Story

The Philadelphia Story Imagery

Opening Montage

The beginning of the film is a wordless scene depicting the final goodbye in Tracy and Dexter's combative divorce. We see Dexter leaving the Lord household with his bags all packed. Tracy follows with his golf clubs which she throws on the ground, before snapping one over her knee. Dexter then pushes Tracy violently to the ground. No words are exchanged, but a great deal is communicated by the characters' physical gestures and the slapstick routine. The imagery brings us up to speed on the irreconcilable differences between them, their respectively fiery personalities, as well as the light-hearted and comic tone that much of the film will take.

Dexter, Tracy, and Mike Looking at the Camera

In the final moment of the film, just as Tracy, Dexter, and Mike are arriving at the altar for Tracy and Dexter's remarriage, Sidney Kidd emerges from the congregation and snaps a picture. Everyone at the altar looks over, baffled expressions on their faces. After all the hijinks of the film, there is still a member of the press at the ceremony that manages to get a nosy photograph.

Tracy Downing Champagne

Tracy is left alone after her father scolds her for her imperious attitude and accuses her of being "made of bronze." In his absence, she begins to down glasses of champagne in an attempt to drown her pain and hurt. The image of the bride left alone and drinking quickly reveals that though her father, Dexter, and George seem to believe she is a goddess with an impenetrable heart, Tracy is actually quite vulnerable and easily hurt. We the audience are privy to Tracy's pain and her desire for love in a way that no one else is.

Tracy Addressing Her Wedding Guests

One of the most comic images in the film is the sight of Tracy addressing her guests from the other room. She confidently begins a speech of apology about the fact that she and George will no longer be getting married, but wavers as she gets deeper into the speech. She leans back into the room she's standing in and asks Dexter to prompt her. As he dictates, she leans in and out of the room, over the threshold between her public and her private life. In this moment, she marries her true self with her public persona, all with the help of her beloved ex-husband, Dexter.