Musical Monday: High Society
Our story starts here as Louis Armstrong and his bandmates sit in the back of the bus (of course) and smoke pot. Take it away, Satchmo.
Louis and his band meet up with Bing Crosby, who’s staying at the estate of his ex-wife in Newport for the upcoming jazz festival. Bing tries to act all down with the fellas and they all laugh behind his back because they’ve never seen a whiter man than him and they’ve never heard a whiter name than “Bing.”
Meanwhile, Grace Kelly (Bing’s ex) is in another part of the estate with her mother and her (judging by her mother’s age) miraculous sister opening wedding gifts because she’s getting married in a couple days and apparently when you’re filthy rich you get to open your gifts any damn time you want.
Grace tries to comfort her mother because her father recently shacked up with a stripper, but this being the ’50s and all, they call her a “chorus girl.” Her mother tells her to fuck off. Politely, of course.
Grace stomps off to yell at her ex-husband for being a creepy old man who marries women young enough to be his daughter.
Suddenly, Prince Rainier shows up.
Bing decides to get back at Grace by seducing her younger sister.
Meanwhile, Uncle Willy (which sounds like a name a pedophile would call himself) calls from the offices of Spy magazine. Why he’s in the office of a sleazy tabloid editor is not explained. Anyway, Spy is threatening to run a tell-all about Grace’s father’s philandering unless they’re allowed to get exclusive picture rights to Grace’s wedding.
Mother Lord breaks the news to a furious Grace in the gift-opening wing of the house. Grace is pissy through most of the first half of the movie and we kept hoping that someone would haul off and slap her or at least throw a drink in her face.
Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm, the reporter and photographer from Spy, arrive seconds later. Apparently, they were camped out in the bushes outside or something. Celeste wears dowdy clothes in order to make Grace look better. She’s thoughtful that way.
Grace decides to have a little fun with them by acting haughty and entitled, but since that’s basically the way she acts all the time, the joke falls flat.
Y’know, it kinda pains us to say this, but there was a brief period in his life when Frankie was kinda hot. Right about the time this film was made. Unbelievably skinny, though.
She introduces her Uncle Willy to them as her father. We’re not sure why. Even though these are two reporters from the very magazine that’s blackmailing them, they seem not to know that her father walked out on them. Willy’s hot to get into Celeste’s matronly clothes, so he plays along.
Still with us? Then let’s continue.
Bing meets Grace by the pool, where she’s wearing the most pretentious-looking wrap we’ve ever seen. We get it. She’s a goddess. Why not put a laurel wreath on her head and an owl on her shoulder next time?
Anyway Bing gives her a wedding gift and she unwraps both it and herself. It’s a model of the yacht on which they spent their honeymoon. Instead of being outrageously offended by such a presumptuous and tacky gift, she instead dreamily flashes back to those days.
It’s a pretty song, but ohmigod is that scene creepy. Like watching a grandfather seduce his granddaughter.
Grace’s father arrives and lays into her for being cold and unforgiving. Her mother stands by and lets him and for that, we hate her a little. Hello? He walked out on you, bitch! Who the hell is he to criticize anyone in that family?
Grace stomps off (yet again) and forces Frank to go for a little projection-screen driving. She bitches and moans to him about how hard it is to be rich and we’re still waiting for that slap to come.
Instead they wind up at Uncle Willy’s estate, where they start drinking the afternoon away.
The director suddenly remembers that this is a musical, so they have Frankie sing to her about how he’s falling in love with her. The hell? Sure, she’s ridiculously beautiful, but she’s a hardcore spoiled bitch.
At the party that night, she gets rip-roaring drunk and makes an ass out of herself. Prince Rainier is pissed and threatens to have her beheaded if she doesn’t knock it off.
Meanwhile, Frankie and Bing perform their contractually obligated duet.
She sneaks out of the party with Frankie by climbing through a window because doors are so last year.
They head to the guest house for some more drinking and Grace takes her shoes off, which is code for “Fuck me, middle class boy!” But first, drunken singing:
Later, they show up undressed, shitfaced, and dripping wet. For some odd reason, this really pisses Prince Rainier off.
The next morning, everyone but Bing has a hangover. Grace puts a dainty glove to her forehead and tries to pretend that she doesn’t remember acting like a low class whore the night before her wedding.
Frankie declares his love for her, but she knows it’d never work because he’s far too ethnic for her.
Prince Rainier decides he won’t have her beheaded, despite her vulgar ways. Oddly enough, Grace thinks this is not a good way to start one’s marriage, so she dumps him.
The wedding march starts and Grace is frantic because clearly, the movie’s about to end and she hasn’t had closure yet. Her father calls her a low class whore and says that he’s never been prouder of her.
Bing decides to help her out of her pickle by marrying her again as if this 52-year-old is doing some sort of favor to the gorgeous 26-year-old. Why no one in this movie picked up on how incredibly creepy he is is beyond us.
So, all’s well that ends well. Bing gets to sleep with a gorgeous woman half his age…
Celeste and Frankie decide they’re suddenly in love…
And the Black folks are out on the patio where they belong. The end.