High Society

High Society

High Society (1956) is musical film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in VistaVision and Technicolor with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It was directed by Charles Walters and produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by John Patrick, based on the play The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry. The cinematography was by Paul Vogel, the art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Hans Peters and the costume design by Helen Rose.

Plot summary

The successful jazz musician C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) had married and divorced rich Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly), but remains in love with her. She, however, is about to get married to a bland gentleman of good standing, George Kittredge (John Lund). The intense and edgy reporter by the name of Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) covers the nuptials for Spy Magazine, and falls for her as well. She must choose between the three very different men in a course of self-discovery.


The film stars Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm with Louis Armstrong, John Lund, Louis Calhern, Sidney Blackmer, and Margalo Gillmore.

High Society marked the final acting role for Grace Kelly before she became Princess of Monaco (the film was actually released three months after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco). At the time of the film's release, Sinatra and Holm were over forty and Crosby was fifty-three. Kelly, however, was only twenty-six and was actually the second consideration for the part of Tracy Lord, the original choice, Elizabeth Taylor, being unable to commit.

High Society would mark the first on-screen pairing of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, two of the most popular singers and actors of the 1940s and 1950s. They would act together again in the Sinatra-produced Robin and the 7 Hoods in 1964. This would be the second time that Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly acted together, the first time being in The Country Girl in 1954.


A long playing record of the soundtrack songs was released the same year; see High Society. A major success in both America and Great Britain, it has been said that one of the main reasons star Frank Sinatra was drawn to the film was a duet with his boyhood idol Bing Crosby on Well, Did You Evah!, a song added at the last minute when it was noted that the two singers didn't have a duet to perform in the film. Culturally, the song Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has gained extra significance being the song that inspired the name of the popular gameshow.

Critical Reception and Box Office

Openening on July 17th, 1956, High Society garnered good reviews despite often being compared as being a lesser offering to the film on which it was based, The Philadelphia Story. Variety noted: "Fortified with a strong Cole Porter score, film is a pleasant romp for cast toppers Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Their impact is almost equally consistent. Although Sinatra has the top pop tune opportunities, the Groaner makes his specialties stand up and out on showmanship and delivery, and Kelly impresses as a femme lead."

At the North American box office, High Society was a glowing success. One of the 10 highest grossing films of 1955, a gross of over $13 million would recoup $5.8 million in rentals.

Award Nominations

Academy Awards

  • Nominated: Best Music, Song: True Love
  • Nominated: Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

Writers Guild of America

  • Nominated: Best Written American Musical

Stage Adaptation

More than forty years after the original movie was released, it was adapted for the stage as a Broadway musical with several Porter songs from other sources added to the score. The Broadway production opened on April 27, 1998 at the St. James Theatre, where it ran for 144 performances.

External links

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