Philadelphia Story Character Analysis
George Cukor’s star studded romantic comedy, The Philadelphia Story (1940), offers modern viewers a look at changing personalities in 1930s/40s American high society. The film stars Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and James Stewart in a clash of cultures centered around a wedding. Macaulay Connor (Stewart) is a reporter for tabloid like Spy Magazine, on assignment to write an exposé on the marriage of wealthy Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn) with the help of her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant). While all of the characters present go through a dramatic change of outlook, Connor’s is the most drastic.
Macaulay Connor’s goal in life is to be respected for his writing. He works for Spy magazine and resents his position, as he feels it is undignified. Although he successfully published a book of short stories, it was thoroughly unsuccessful in sales. Based on the reactions of other characters to his work, it is intimated that the book is of high quality. The greatest obstacle in Connor’s mind is his social status and financial situation. He feels he is forced to keep his job at Spy in order to have money. At one point, Connor plans to quit to avoid an assignment that involves attending a society wedding under false pretenses: “I’m a writer, I’m not a society snoop…. Let Kidd fire me! I’ll start writing short stories again; that’s what I should be doing anyway.” Connor complains to Kidd’s face that the work is “degrading, it’s undignified,” and his girlfriend and photographer retorts: “so is an empty stomach.” The two then proceed to question Kidd about the logistics of the job and there is no further discussion of dignity. Aside from the obvious financial struggle, it is apparent throughout the film that Connor believes he has been cheated in life by being from the “lower class.” He regularly comments on the lifestyle maintained by the rich and the ease with which they go through life. When asked by...
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