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High Society (1956)

There are three men in the life of icy, spoiled Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly). The first is CK Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) – or “Dex” – who was her childhood sweetheart and from whom she is now divorced. Dex, a successful jazz musician, now lives nearby and wants Tracy back.

The second is George Kittredge, a safe, sound (but dull) businessman whom she is about to marry.

The third is Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra), a reporter for Spy magazine which is threatening to run an exposé on Tracy’s playboy father (Sidney Blackmer) unless given an ‘exclusive’ on her wedding. Mike, however, has also fallen in love with Tracy.

Is Tracy caught in a terrible dilemma, or is she just spoilt for choice?

High Society is a re-working of Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, already filmed in 1940. John Patrick’s instructions for the screenplay were to re-work it just enough to make room for nine Cole Porter songs.

highsociety_590As a result, High Society offers Crosby singing Now You Has Jazz with Louis Armstrong and Sinatra and Crosby’s Well, Did You Evah!, a song which had previously been sung in DuBarry Was A Lady in 1939 on Broadway, by Betty Grable and Charles Walters – High Society‘s director.

Sinatra had always idolised Crosby and thoroughly enjoyed making High Society, however, since he had started recording with arranger Nelson Riddle at Capitol, Sinatra had developed a new style and it’s fascinating to witness the contrast during the breezily competitive Well, Did You Evah!, in which Sinatra gets to taunt Crosby with the line, “Don’t dig that kind of crooning, chum.”

They called each other ‘Nembutal’ and ‘Dexedrine’ during the shoot and, for once, Sinatra was happy to lose in love, especially as Crosby and Grace Kelly had history with The Country Girl (1954).

But he did get to duet with Celeste Holm on the picture’s other showstopper, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

This was Kelly’s last film before becoming Princess of Monaco – and the engagement ring in the film is her own.

CK (‘Dex’) Dexter-Haven
Bing Crosby
Tracy Samantha Lord
Grace Kelly
Mike Connor
Frank Sinatra
Liz Imbrie
Celeste Holm
George Kittredge
John Lund
Uncle Willie
Louis Calhern
Seth Lord
Sidney Blackmer
Mrs Seth Lord
Margalo Gillmore
Caroline Lord
Lydia Reed
Louis Armstrong

Charles Walters