Saturday, November 12, 2011

Woman of the Year

Apparently I've never blogged about the film Woman of the Year before. It's airing tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM on TCM, so now would be a good time to post on it.

This is the first of nine movies starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Tracy plays Sam, a newspaper sports columnist. One day while at his favorite bar hanging out with the guys, he hears international political newspaper/radio columnist Tess (Hepburn) making derogatory comments about sports and how can you possibly have sports when there's a war going on out there? Sam is horrified, so he writes a column about how wrong-headed Tess is. The disagreement is good for business but bad for the atmosphere in the office, so the editor brings the two of them together to patch things up. And you can guess what happens next: they fall in love, even though they're complete opposites.

After they fall in love, you can probably guess that they're going to spend the rest of the film trying to make their relationship work once they discover that there's more to a relationship than just the emotions at the beginning, and that life isn't a bed of roses when you've got such polar opposites. In that regard, the movie doesn't really tread any new ground. Still, it's ample opportunity for gentle humor, such as Hepburn's trying to understand baseball, or Tracy's having to deal with a gathering of foreign diplomatic types where nobody seems to understand English.

The thing is, there's really no secondary plot to make this movie work the way there is with Adam's Rib or Desk Set. I think that Woman of the Year has quite a bit to say about relationships and understanding the opposite sex, and what it does say it says fairly well. But a lot of the time it feels a bit one-dimensional. Perhaps that has something to do with it being a Katharine Hepburn movie. She's never been one of my favorite actresses, and I can't help but feel a lot of the time as though she's playing an unsympathetic version of herself. It's up to Spencer Tracy to save this movie. While he does a creditable job of that, he's up against a lot more than he is in some of the other movies he made with Hepburn.

Still, I'd bet that those of you who like Katharine Hepburn will really enjoy Woman of the Year.

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