CLASSICS AND COCKTAILS: Champagne, Screwball and The Philadelphia Story

philadelphia story

Sip like a socialite and end summer on a screwball note with the Brattle Theatre’s upcoming showings of The Philadelphia Story. Together with Holiday, the 1940 George Cukor film wraps up the movie house’s Screwball Summer series with an all-star cast. Katharine Hepburn takes the lead as the prim and privileged Tracy Lord, getting ready for her second wedding day at her family’s Philadelphia mansion. Unexpected guests arrive in the form of her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Cary Grant, and tabloid reporter Mike Connor, played by Jimmy Stewart. As tensions rise between the exes and the family struggles against the snooping tabloid (aptly named Spy), the bubbly starts to flow—to comedic effect. Tracy’s best-laid plans are complicated by an emerging love triangle, and then quadrangle, in the one boozy night before her wedding day.

Hepburn was responsible for getting the film made from its original Broadway play. Playwright Philip Barry wrote the role of Tracy specifically for her and aviator Howard Hughes bought her the film rights during their two-year dalliance. Hepburn hand-selected her cast and chose Cukor as director in an effort to bring her box office ratings back up. (Hint: it worked.) The Philadelphia Story was nominated for six Academy Awards and took two: Best Screenplay for Donald Ogden Stewart and Best Actor for Jimmy Stewart. The movie shows off Stewart’s comedic chops, especially with some expertly timed hiccups after a bit (or a bunch) of bubbly.

Champagne plays a big role in The Philadelphia Story as the Lords and their guests celebrate the impending wedding. Tracy, who never gets drunk, kickstarts the night’s adventures by putting away a table’s worth of sparkling wine. You don’t have to go that far, but you can grab a bar seat at Craigie on Main for an effervescent pre-movie cocktail. The Vinland 75 ups the ante on the classic Champagne cocktail, the French 75, with Beefeater gin, sour grapefruit, Aquavit, absinthe and sparkling wine. (And it’s well-named for toasting to the film’s 75th anniversary.) Craigie’s bar hours are from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the movie plays at 2:45 and 7 p.m. on both Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 1. You can purchase your tickets online and check out the Craigie bar list for all the fizzy options.