High Society: a trip to Greenwich Picturehouse
This is an artist report and blog by Lauren Julia Miller for Meet Me on the Move.
It was a lovely, distinctly Fall morning outside the Greenwich Picturehouse— the sun shining low in the sky, the breeze brisk but not biting. Members would soon be arriving to watch a dementia friendly screening of High Society, a 1956 musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. Even having only seen a few stills and a dated trailer I knew it would be dripping with classic Hollywood glamor. Lavish sets, exquisite costumes, and vibrant technicolor. No expense was spared on this film.
I had my camera ready and wanted to treat the members like the stars they were about to see, as if they were celebrities arriving on the red carpet for the premiere of the film. Unlike the paparazzi, I politely asked before snapping their photo, saying “I love what you’re wearing today” and encouraging them to “give me your best Grace Kelly” or “show me moviestar”. The Meet Me members are well practiced in striking a pose. Each of them paused, lifted their chest and chin proudly, and elegantly presented to me. A few of the women even flawlessly replicated that wistful, three-quarters gaze that is such a signature of Grace Kelly.
The group was in good humor, chatting and warming up around the tables. Once everyone was set with beverages, it was time for the show!
Luckily there was room for nearly everyone on the front row of the back section where it is easy to get to and from the door without stairs. It was quite refreshing to watch a film without a bunch of commercials and previews and announcements beforehand. With a roar of the MGM lion, the orchestra swelled, and the movie was underway!
Everyone watched attentively as the plot unfurled and action was set into motion. Grace Kelly’s fashionable pouting was occasionally paused for a good croon from Frank or Bing, or a lively interjection on the horn from Louis, and finally the delightfully goofy number “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. The first half flew by, and before we all knew it, Frank Sinatra was abruptly interrupted for intermission. Members took the opportunity to use the loo and have a snack. I took the opportunity to snap a few more photos with the lights on.
The second half was even more of a hit! It was easy to tell that everyone’s favorite part was the sensational Cole Porter song “Now You Has Jazz” performed by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong at the big wedding party. Even in the dark of the theater, members could be seen bopping and humming along, tapping their hands and feet to the beat. With a flurry of feelings and a trading of places, the movie managed to successfully end with a wedding like all the most classic of comedies do.
As we shuffled out into the light of day again, several members noted how nice it was to be reminded of the cinema, saying that they had not been to this Picturehouse or to the movies at all since the pandemic. Overall everyone seemed to enjoy the day and a chance to escape into the lush glamor and frivolous exploits of old Hollywood for a spell. With the sun even lower now, I shot just a few more paparazzi style photos as members got into their rides and we all said goodbye.
At home I reviewed the photos, and was so impressed by how dignified and elegant all our members looked. I wanted to treat them accordingly and so decided to recreate their portraits in the style of the beautiful High Society promotional posters I had found online. They are painted portraits of the cast atop bold colors of the day— a bright buttery yellow, a luxurious Tiffany teal, and a rich forest green. I hope that these portraits convey and celebrate the grace, dignity, style, and joy that the members so perfectly embody.
Meet Me on the Move is generously supported by City Bridge Trust.