The role of Dexter Haven in the Philadelphia
Story was my favorite because I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. I
liked working with Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart; I liked
the honesty of the story and its gentle humor. And I got special
satisfaction from the fact that all the money made by this picture
went to the British War Relief and the USO.
I was given the choice of playing Dexter Haven
or Mike Connor, the two leading male roles. I took Dexter Haven
because it was a shorter part and therefore gave me a little
vacation. Jimmy Stewart took Mike Connor and received an Academy
Award for his performance. But if our roles had been reversed, I'm
sure Jimmy would have won the award anyway.
Not long before, I had worked with Katharine
Hepburn in Sylvia Scarlett, which was a scandalous flop. Then I
was with her in Holiday, which suffered because it poked fun at
the rich at a time when that exercise had become unpopular. The
Philadelphia Story wasn't a defense of the wealthy, but it did
suggest that those who happened to be cushioned with some
financial plush were often quite human.
In one scene I had to hit Jimmy Stewart on the
jaw. Afterward, looking up from the floor, he said, "What the
heck did you do that for?"
Faithful to the script, I answered,
"George would have hit you harder."
Then Jimmy added an impromptu line that stuck.
"You'll do," he said.