the first of nine films tracy and hepburn did together. this one gets as dark as any of the five i’ve seen (woman of the year, pat & mike, guess who’s coming to dinner, adam’s rib, and desk set), and that certainly makes it stand out. in adam’s rib they have a rough patch, but it never gets as dark as it does here. though it’s a bit slow in the first half, it picks up in the second half when some conflict arises. other than some slack in the storytelling, the picture was well-directed. it’s no shane (also directed by george stevens), but few films are. stevens does show his ability to film indoor sequences with style and efficiency here, 11 years before shane was made. the scene at the ballpark and the final scene are highlights.
thematically it sets the stage for many of their films. it’s about the battle of the sexes and, more importantly, the cohabitation of the sexes. hepburn plays a very successful reporter who eventually is named “woman of the year,” but her personal life suffers. in a way it’s a fairly commonplace story, but it’s noteworthy because the woman is the one faced with the need to balance career and family and the man is the one left feeling left out and abandoned. this storyline has been addressed in films like donnie brasco and many others, but it’s generally the man who is overly committed to his work and the woman who feels neglected. in the end hepburn decides to quit her job and learn to cook and clean for her husband (something she turns out to be awful at). tracy, though, summarizes her over-reaction thusly: “why does it always have to be the extremes with you? i don’t want to be married to mrs. craig anymore than i want to be married to ms. harding. why can’t you just be mrs. harding-craig?” here, is the essence of the bulk of the tracy-hepburn collaborations – moderation. true feminism doesn’t mean having the problems of the most successful man, it means being able to choose, it means being equal and that means being able to balance home life with career. B.
one of the better lines from the film:
they’re at a yankees day game during the week…
are all these people unemployed?
no, they’re all attending their grandmother’s funeral.
i’ll remember that one the next time i need to get out of work to see a game. great line.