Couch Potato Guide: Evening at the Paps

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It's them. They're the ones you hate. The paparazzi. Unearth the birth of the name in a Fellini masterpiece: La Dolce Vita. Young, Beatle-haired Paparazzo is an affable parasite, his parabolic flash gleaming like a comic-book ray gun. He comes complete with scooter, and he knows that he can always follow weary-eyed Marcello straight to Anita Ekberg. Paparazzo is said to be based on real-life photog Tazio Secchiaroli, now 72 and attaining a minor celebrity of his own this week. The Sweet Life is the cinema exemplar of fame, degradation and decadence, and it's all in glorious Italian.

It will, however, leave you wretchedly sad. So turn back the clock to 1940 and give it all a happy ending with the The Philadelphia Story. You'll find out that before 1960, they called photogs "creatures" — and they were all from Spy Magazine. You'll also find out that nobody plays soused like Jimmy Stewart and nobody wore a bathing cap like Katherine Hepburn. Not to mention that in 1940, batting your wife around was practically comic. So if that bothers you, fast forward to 1956 and High Society, with Bing, Frank, and our other fallen princess, Grace Kelly, looking absolutely radiant. It's an almost line-for-line revival —just a few updates and a lot more jazz. On a somber weekend, a bit o' Satchmo can be positively therapeutic.