Friday, February 15, 2008

Charles Buchinksi, et al.

TCM is airing Pat and Mike at 2:00 PM ET on Saturday, Feb. 16, as part of an entire morning and afternoon of Katharine Hepburn movies. Pat and Mike is one of nine movies Hepburn made with Spencer Tracy, and is probably the weakest of the nine. In Pat and Mike, Hepburn plays Pat Pemberton, who has quite a bit of potential to be a great female athlete, at a time when women didn't do professional sports (except for golf, and even then, the LPGA was miniscule compared to what it and other women's sports are today). A somewhat dishonest manager (played by Tracy) discovers her, and proceeds to try to take her to the top.

As far as women's sports go, you could do much better to find a copy of Ida Lupino's Hard, Fast and Beautiful. The reasons to watch Pat and Mike have nothing to do with Tracy and Hepburn themselves, and certainly nothing to do with Hepburn's sporting prowess (she was in her mid-40s at the time the movie was made, clearly a bit too old to play a professional athlete, unless it was a former professional athlete). Instead, watch for the real professionals: Babe Didrikson Zaharias has a cameo, as does tennis Grand Slam winner Don Budge.

The supporting cast of actors is also interesting. Aldo Ray shines as a boxer who is being exploited by Tracy, and has no idea of what Tracy is doing to him. Future TV rifleman Chuck Connors shows up as a police officer; Jim Backus makes a small appearance; Carl Switzer, better-known as Alfalfa from the Hal Roach "Our Gang" cartoons, plays a busboy; and watch for one of the gangsters: that's a young Charles Buchinski, who would later change his name to Charles Bronson and go on to greater things.

(If you want to see the spoilers as to who the "lesser-known" cast members are, take your mouse and highlight the text.)

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