As you can tell from the title, this time around, we’re here for the classic 1952 movie Pat And Mike, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn!
Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn), the women’s athletic coach at Pacific Technical College, is dragged into a game of golf with a potential donor and his wife. Pat’s fiance, Collier Weld (William Ching), wants her to partner with the donor in hopes that he will win and donate to the college. However, Collier unnerves her, which results in her and the donor losing. After listening to the unsolicited golfing advice from the donor’s wife, Pat forces her to sit and watch her hit several good shots in a row. Afterwards, she is approached by Charles Barry (Jim Backus), who asks her to consider going pro. When Collier comes in, she tells him about it. He’s not thrilled, and tries to dissuade her, but she decides to quit her job at the college and go pro. At her first tournament, she does really well. Watching her is sports promoter Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy), who suggests she could make some serious money by fixing it to come in second, to which she refuses. However, as it comes down toward the end, she sees Collier watching and, unnerved, makes enough mistakes to come in second. Undaunted, she goes to Mike, asking him to manage her, especially since she can do a few other sports, like tennis. After she signs with him, he starts up training her, forbidding smoking, drinking, men, etc. In various tennis matches, she does really well. However, in one match against Gussie Moran, Collier comes to watch her, and she gets rattled again, losing the match. Afterwards, Collier and Mike get into an argument about whether she should stay or go, angering Pat as she believes nobody else “owns” her. She joins Mike at his training camp, where he is also training boxer Davie Hucko (Aldo Ray) and his racehorse. There, she is able to admit to Mike that seeing Collier is what keeps getting to her. The two start getting closer, and Mike tries to get Collier to stay away from her. Right before the next golf tournament, some of Mike’s investors come, with the intention of convincing Pat to lose on purpose since they were betting against her. She refuses, and even helps Mike fight back. More trouble comes, though, as Collier arrives, and tries to convince Pat to leave. The question is, will she leave, or will she be able to overcome her problem?
Pat And Mike is the seventh of nine films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together. The movie was written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon specifically for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. They particularly gave Katharine Hepburn a chance to show off her own natural athletic abilities, considering she herself was a very good golfer and tennis player. The movie featured a number of sports stars playing themselves, including Gussie Moran, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Frank Parker (who also acted as a technical advisor and coached Katharine Hepburn).
While I have only had occasion to see this movie a few times, it’s one that I will readily admit to enjoying whenever I do! Obviously, the script is wonderful, but the performances are what make the movie worthwhile. William Ching does a great job as Collier, with his constant negging that undermines Pat’s self-confidence, effectively “jinxing” her whenever he is watching. And, we can see that, as Spencer Tracy’s Mike says, he doesn’t want an equal partnership, as he keeps trying to tell Pat what to do instead of letting her decide. Aldo Ray as the boxer Davie Hucko is pretty hilarious, especially when he obsesses over the attention Mike is giving to Pat instead of him, and then, when he talks about “fighting” himself (after he talked with Pat). Of course, considering the later reputation of one actor in this film, there is some more humor that wouldn’t have meant as much at the time. Charles Bronson, billed under his birth name of Charles Buchinsky (even thought the credits mis-spell it as “Buchinski”), plays a thug, but is beaten up and becomes afraid of Katharine Hepburn’s Pat. Of course, we also get the great Jim Backus in an all-too-brief appearance as another golf pro, who suggests Pat become a pro herself.
But, obviously, we’re here for the two leads, as they continue to display the chemistry that had brought them together for six films before this! Katharine Hepburn is wonderful here, as we see her character struggle with her self confidence, especially when dealing with her fiance, yet we see that she is strong enough to try fighting for her own life instead of just giving in to him completely. Then there is Spencer Tracy, whose character starts out somewhat corrupt and thinks himself a pretty macho guy, although he is willing to treat Pat as a partner. Of course, as the movie goes on, he becomes less corrupt and has to come to terms with his own issues, especially when Pat takes down the two thugs causing him trouble. A wonderful pair of performances, with a great story and great support from the rest of the cast. I certainly have no problem whatsoever with recommending this fun movie!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. For the new Blu-ray, they used a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and it looks fantastic! Again, I have limited experience with this movie (and don’t remember how it looked in standard definition), but I like this transfer! With all the dirt and debris cleaned up, and a picture devoid of scratches, this is easily the best way to view this fantastic movie!
Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #6 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Father Of The Bride (1950) – Spencer Tracy – Desk Set (1957)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Katharine Hepburn – Desk Set (1957)
Coming Up Shorts! with… Hasty But Tasty (1969)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 6 minutes, 16 seconds)
The aardvark tries to catch the ant, who is using a small motorcycle to get the food away from the picnic. A bit of fun here, particularly with a recurring gag of a portable hole the aardvark tried to use, which keeps floating in and out. The formula of predator vs. prey is still here, obviously, but the fun is still in watching the aardvark’s plans and traps fail Wyle E. Coyote-style! Worth a few good laughs, anyway!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of the Ant And The Aardvark (and the eventual post on the entire set), along with other shorts!