The Philadelphia Story

The Philadelphia Story Literary Elements


George Cukor

Leading Actors/Actresses

Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler, John Howard, Ruth Hussey


Comedy, Romance




Won 2 Oscars: Best Actor in a Leading Role—James Stewart, Best Adapted Screenplay—Donald Ogden Stewart

Date of Release



Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Setting and Context

Philadelphia, 1940

Narrator and Point of View

There is no narrator and the point of view shifts around between characters

Tone and Mood

Comedic, Dramatic, Romantic, Screwball, Comedy of Manners

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Tracy. Antagonist: Sidney Kidd, also George Kittredge to some extent

Major Conflict

Tracy is set to be married to George Kittredge and Spy Magazine wants the scoop, so sends Mike and Liz to cover the wedding, blackmailing the Lords into letting them report in exchange for not releasing a story about Mr. Lord's philandering. Another part of the conflict is that Tracy's ex-husband, Dexter, wants her back.


The climax occurs when Dexter proposes to Tracy after she rejects George, and they decide to get married again.


Tracy's guzzling three champagnes one after another foreshadows that she will have a debaucherous evening. Not to mention that Dexter mentions earlier an instance in which Tracy "got drunk on champagne and climbed out on the roof, and stood there, naked, with [her] arms out to the moon, wailing like a banshee."


Dexter's proposal to Tracy is a bit of an understatement in that he obliquely squeezes it into a moment in which he dictates a speech that she is giving to her wedding guests. Rather than get down on one knee, he resorts to a casual suaveness.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques


Machiavelli, ivory towers


Tracy's father scolds her for being a bad daughter, but then when she apologizes, he tells her she doesn't need to.


Dexter's blackmailing Kidd parallels Kidd's blackmailing Dexter.