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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The time to make up your mind about people, is never.

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Philip Barry

In 1938, playwright Philip Barry grew concerned for his friend Katharine Hepburn. The actress had long been self-critical, and shortly after starring in “Holiday” — a film adapted from one of Barry’s plays — she was put on a list of performers considered to be “box office poison.” To help audiences start rooting for Hepburn, Barry wrote the leading part in his new romantic comedy, “The Philadelphia Story,” specifically for her. The Broadway production was a huge hit, resulting in a classic 1940 film where Hepburn reprised her role, opposite Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. Hepburn’s Tracy Lord, an independent divorcée, utters this line on the eve of her second wedding, foreshadowing her decision to find an alternate groom. Barry suggests that people can always surprise you, an idea Hepburn epitomized with her career. She remains the only actor, female or male, ever to win four Oscars.

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