I’m trying something different* this time around, so, at this point, we’ll start off with the two shorts before moving on to the main feature. So sit back and enjoy my reviews of these two shorts (both of which are extras on the new Blu-ray of Without Love (1945) from Warner Archive Collection)!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Purity Squad (1945)
(Length: 19 minutes, 52 seconds)
A pair of con artists sell a pill that is supposed to help against type 2 diabetes, until the FDA steps in to stop them. A short from the “Crime Does Not Pay” series produced by MGM. Interesting story, and one that, in some respects, seems way too relevant even now. I will admit that it seems well done, although I myself can’t say as I care much for this series (to be fair, this is so far the only one I have seen).
Coming Up Shorts! with… Swing Shift Cinderella (1945)
(Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
The Wolf decides to chase Cinderella around instead of Red Riding Hood. Another fun cartoon directed by Tex Avery, and it shows! In some respects, this is very similar to the earlier Red Hot Riding Hood, with the Wolf chasing after Red/Cinderella, and being chased, in this instance, by the Fairy Godmother. The gags come fast and furious (and so do the laughs!), and it’s a lot of fun to watch! At the moment, it doesn’t appear to have been restored yet (at least, not as an extra on this release), but, restored or not, it’s still got Tex Avery’s brand of fun!
And Now For The Main Feature…
In 1942, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were teamed up to great acclaim for the movie Woman Of The Year. Of course, audiences wanted more, and they followed up with the drama Keeper Of The Flame, without as much success. Trying to follow up with a comedy, they made use of the Philip Barry play Without Love, which had been written for (and starred) Katharine Hepburn. The original intention was that Spencer Tracy would co-star with her in the play, but the producers didn’t like the idea and cast somebody else. Still, the play was popular, and Katharine Hepburn was able to convince the MGM executives to buy the film rights.
Now that we’ve got some background info out of the way, let’s get into the movie itself. So, no interruptions, please. It’s World War II, and there’s a housing shortage in Washington D.C. Scientist Patrick Jamieson (Spencer Tracy) is in town, and looking for a place to stay. While he is searching, a drunken man hails the cab he is in. This drunk turns out to be Quentin Ladd (Keenan Wynn), who, due to his inebriated state, doesn’t want to return home to his mother, but instead wants to stay overnight at his cousin Jamie’s place. Pat wrangles an overnight invitation out of him, and talks to him a little before Quentin passes out. The morning turns out to be quite interesting.
“How interesting?” (well, someone had to ask!)
Well, it… I forgot to mention, when it comes to “no interruptions,” I meant myself as well. But since I’ve paused anyway…
I would argue that the “morning after” scene is arguably my favorite scene from the whole movie! We start with Quentin waking up, and it would appear that he has completely forgotten the events of the previous evening, although he starts catching up fast as he talks with Pat. Of course, Quentin’s stuck-up fiance, Edwina Collins (Patricia Morison), shows up and starts ordering him around, although Pat hilariously tells her off. Except for Quentin, everybody starts assuming that Pat has come to be the caretaker for the house, including the owner, the widow Jamie Rowan (Katharine Hepburn). But this whole section just really stood out for me, and helped get the movie off to a good start for me, with a few good doses of humor! Anyways, back to the story…
Jamie and Pat butt heads, particularly over relationships, as his own had not gone well, while her marriage, short as it was, gave her enough love for a lifetime (except, she was now withdrawing from the rest of the world as a result). But, she consents to let him stay and be the caretaker for the house, especially when she learns that he is working on an oxygen mask for pilots to help with the war. A few weeks later, in comes Jamie’s friend and business manager Kitty Trimble (Lucille Ball) who…
(waves hand excitedly)
Now, hold on a bit, I’ll get to her… Oh, who am I kidding? For me, Lucille Ball is also one of the best parts of the movie. From her entrance here, she starts in with the wisecracks, and flirts a little with Spencer Tracy’s Pat and he with her, even though it’s obvious the two aren’t really being that serious about it. But her presence and humor lights up the screen whenever she appears. Honestly, if I have much in the way of complaints about this movie, it’s that she’s not there for ENOUGH of it!
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Kitty is showing the house to Paul Carrell (Carl Esmond), who turns out to be someone that Pat knows. While that is happening, Jamie returns from a trip, and during a moment alone with Pat, she decides to let the past be, and proposes marriage to Pat, although not on the basis of love. Since she intends it to be a relationship devoid or love and romance, while allowing them to be friends and work together, he says yes. While they work together, she spends time with Paul Carrell, who accidentally makes her realize that she loves Pat. When Pat is called to Chicago to demonstrate the oxygen mask, she follows along, much to his delight. However, Pat’s ex is in town, and his repeated attempts to avoid her finally get to Jamie, as she worries that this means that he loves his ex more than he is willing to admit. Out of frustration, she leaves right before the test. At this point, obviously, the question is not “how will the test go,” but “will these two be able to work through their issues and reconcile?”
I can certainly tell you, I did enjoy getting the chance to see this movie. I’ve now had the chance to see five of the nine films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together, and this one is, to my mind, just as good and fun to watch as any of them. Their chemistry is still the big attraction here, which makes it worthwhile (and funny too), with great support from the other cast members. I’ve only had the opportunity to see this movie via the recent Blu-ray release from Warner Archive Collection, which, according to their press release, used a 4K scan of the best surviving archival elements. To my eyes, this transfer looks fantastic, and between that and the wonderful movie itself, I would easily recommend this release as the best way to enjoy this movie!
Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
*ranked #7 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020
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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Libeled Lady (1936) – Spencer Tracy – Father Of The Bride (1950)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Katharine Hepburn – Pat And Mike (1952)
Having Wonderful Time (1938) – Lucille Ball – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
* – Disclaimer: the (attempted) humor in this post is in no way indicative of the style of comedy from the movie. It is purely my own as I experiment with trying to do things a little differently than I have been. I hope to refine it as I go, tailoring it a little better to the movies I review (and, of course, feedback is appreciated in the meantime). Fair warning, though, this is something I only intend to do for reviews of musicals and comedies, and will otherwise stick to what I have been doing for dramas.