What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Bringing Up Baby (1938)

It’s time to look into a screwball comedy that I’ve long looked forward to getting to! That, of course, would be the 1938 film Bringing Up Baby, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant!

Coming Up Shorts! with… When The Wind Blows (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 47 seconds)

On a windy night, Jackie (Jackie Cooper) accidentally locks himself out of his house, and is mistaken for a burglar as he attempts to get into the homes of the various Rascals. This was another fun one, which provided quite a few good laughs! Farina (Allen Hoskins) provides a few of them as he gets scared by the wind (especially when he assumes Jackie is a ghost trying to get in). Edgar Kennedy is back as Kennedy the cop, who keeps claiming that he “always gets his man” (even as he himself keeps getting scared by every little thing). Another fun one for sure, and one I look forward to revisiting again in the future!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History, paleontologist Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) is looking forward to his wedding to his assistant Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) and to the coming arrival of an intercostal clavicle, the final bone from a brontosaurus skeleton he’s been trying to put together for years. Before their wedding, Alice pushes him to talk with lawyer Alexander Peabody (George Irving), an advisor to a Mrs. Carleton Random (who is considering donating one million dollars to the museum). Over a game of golf, David tries to talk to Mr. Peabody, only to be interrupted constantly by Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), who first plays through with David’s ball and then tries to take his car. That night, David tries to meet with Mr. Peabody at a restaurant, but, once again, he runs into Susan, who causes trouble for him and makes him miss his appointment. The next day, a package containing his intercostal clavicle arrives, and with his looming wedding, he is quite happy. Then Susan calls, asking for his help with a leopard named Baby (Nissa) that had just arrived from her brother. David refuses, until she fakes being attacked by Baby, and he runs right over. He’s furious when he finds out she fooled him about being “attacked,” but she pushes him to help take Baby out to her home in Connecticut. Along the way, they run into a truck carrying crates of chickens, and when they stop to buy some meat for Baby, Susan takes someone else’s car (mainly because Baby had jumped into the back). While David tries to clean himself up at her home, Susan sends his clothes out to the cleaners (hoping to delay him from returning to the city for his wedding). While he dons her dressing gown so he can walk about the house (and try to find some more appropriate clothes), Susan’s aunt Elizabeth (May Robson) arrives. She quickly comes to the conclusion that David is crazy (not helped by Susan’s attempts to explain what was going on), so when David learns that Elizabeth is the Mrs. Carleton Random who was considering donating to the museum, he asks Susan not to reveal who he is. To make matters worse, Susan’s dog George (Asta) finds David’s intercostal clavicle (which he had brought with him) and buries it somewhere. David and Susan try to follow George everywhere and dig it up, but they only find other stuff that George had buried. Meanwhile, one of the servants, Mr. Gogarty (Barry Fitzgerald), accidentally releases Baby. With David and Susan now also trying to find Baby, they quickly find themselves in trouble with the law when they come upon the home of psychologist Dr. Lehman (Fritz Feld) and are quickly arrested. Will they be able to get themselves out of this mess and find both the bone and Baby?

In 1937, producer and director Howard Hawks was in the midst of trying to work on the movie Gunga Din. Casting and script problems left him with a desire to do something different. He was recommended a short story called “Bringing Up Baby” by Hagar Wilde (which had appeared in a 1937 issue of Collier’s magazine), which he liked. He planned to do the film as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, who hadn’t really done much in the way of comedy up to that point, and needed a change in direction for her failing career. At first, she struggled with the comedic aspects of the film by trying to act funny (and failing), so the director asked vaudeville comedian Walter Catlett to help coach her. With his help, she was able to act more natural (and actually be funny), and she returned the favor for Catlett by insisting he be retained (by playing the part of Constable Slocum in the movie). While he wasn’t the first offered the role of David Huxley, Cary Grant ended up taking the role at Hawks’ insistence, using silent film comedian Harold Lloyd as an inspiration. The film suffered a number of delays, partly because the two leads would ad-lib and frequently have laughing fits. At the time, Katharine Hepburn had been branded as “box office poison,” and this film did little to mitigate that. She was essentially given the choice to either star in the film Mother Carey’s Chickens or buy out her contract (she chose to buy it out, and went to Columbia to make Holiday, also with Cary Grant).

For those that have been reading my blog for awhile, you’ve seen that I have a fondness for films of the screwball comedy genre, second only to my love for film musicals. But, that hasn’t always been the case. Sure, for a number of years, I had seen (and enjoyed) the Astaire-Rogers film Carefree (which is the one in the series most closely associated with the screwball genre), but I didn’t really actively seek out other screwball comedies. It wasn’t until I got a one-two punch of seeing the Cary Grant films Arsenic And Old Lace and Bringing Up Baby that I started seeking out more of the genre. Coming off Bringing Up Baby for only the second time, I find it’s still just as good!! I haven’t really seen much of anything Katharine Hepburn did before this film, but I can certainly say that whatever Walter Catlett did to help her as a comedienne worked! This is just about the funniest role that I’ve seen her do. And Cary Grant is equally as fun here (and, now that I’ve finally seen it a second time, I understand the Harold Lloyd reference better, as I hadn’t seen any of Harold Lloyd’s films/shorts yet when I first saw this film). The gags are fun, as everything slowly builds up, from the torn dress bit early on (which, as I recall, was later done by Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds in It Started With A Kiss, although not as well as here), to all the mishaps both with Baby the leopard and George stealing the bone, to the jail scene at the end. By the end of that jail sequence, I’m guaranteed to be in stitches, with all the madness going on! I know this is one of those movies that some will love, some will hate, and others’ opinions will vary depending on their mood/timing in watching it. For me, it lives up to the hype of being one of the greatest film comedies, and I would certainly not hesitate in recommending it!!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. This new transfer utilizes a 4K scan from a 35 mm nitrate duplicate negative (from the British Film Institute) and a 35 mm safety fine-grain positive. With the original camera negative long gone, these were the best options still available. In restoring this film, a lot of mold had to removed from the nitrate negative to get the best possible image from that, and the fine-grain positive was several generations away from the original negative. Personally, I think this film now looks fantastic after all their hard work! The film might be a little grainier than some would prefer, but that comes with the territory, considering what they had to work with. Short of something better eventually being discovered or somebody managing to pull off time travel, this IS the best we can hope for. I certainly have no qualms in recommending this release!!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

**ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Katharine Hepburn – Holiday (1938)

The Awful Truth (1937)Cary GrantHoliday (1938)

Alice In Wonderland (1933) – Charles Ruggles – Balalaika (1939)

Barry Fitzgerald – The Sea Wolf (1941)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Without Love (1945)

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

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

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.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Pat And Mike (1952)

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

Audience Rating:

*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!

What's Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Holiday (1938)

Next up, we have the third Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant movie, that 1938 classic Holiday!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Popeye Meets Hercules (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes)

In ancient Greece, Popeye takes on Hercules in the first Olympics. While it’s still typical Popeye vs. Bluto as they fight over Olive and try to one-up each other, this one was still fun. A lot of fun with then-modern gags being transported to ancient Greece. I can still see the formula getting tired, but I still enjoyed watching this one just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After going on a holiday to Lake Placid, Johnny Case (Cary Grant) comes home engaged to Julia Seton (Doris Nolan). He is surprised to find out she is an heiress, the daughter of a rich banker. Her sister, Linda Seton (Katharine Hepburn) takes to him, and blesses the marriage, with her brother Ned Seton (Lew Ayres) being indifferent. However, her banker father Edward Seton (Henry Kolker) is wary, and looks into Johnny’s prospects. Linda wants to give them a small party to celebrate their engagement on New Year’s Eve, but Edward decides to give a big party for all his society friends. Linda opts not to come to the party, instead staying in the playroom. There, she entertains Nick (Edward Everett Horton) and Susan Potter (Jean Dixon), along with Johnny, who tells her of his dream to quit work and go on a holiday while he tries to figure life out and enjoy it before returning to work when his money runs out. When Edward and Julia come up, Johnny tells them his dream, except they are both disturbed by it, resulting in Johnny leaving. With Linda developing feelings for Johnny while still trying to support her sister, what will come of all this?

While this may have been the second time this story was filmed, it’s origins certainly go back a bit further. Nearly ten years earlier, during the Philip Barry play’s original run, Katharine Hepburn was the understudy for the role of Linda Seton. Only once did she get a chance to actually perform in place of actress Hope Williams, and Katharine’s performance was a disaster, as she mainly mimicked how Hope Williams had been performing it. Still Katharine used part of her lines when auditioning for what would be her first movie, A Bill Of Divorcement, with George Cukor directing. After that success, Katharine was under contract to RKO, but soon became labeled as box office poison. In 1938, Columbia Pictures planned a remake of Holiday, with George Cukor directing. They wanted Cary Grant to star, but the studio hoped to reteam him with Irene Dunne after the success of the previous year’s The Awful Truth. However, George Cukor wanted Katharine Hepburn. Still under contract to RKO, who had plans to star her in the B-movie Mother Carey’s Chickens, Katharine was able to buy her way out of her contract, and go to Columbia to do Holiday. The film didn’t end up being successful enough to remove the “box office poison” label, though, so she went back to the stage, where she would star, to great acclaim, in ANOTHER Philip Barry play, The Phildaelphia Story (and do the film version for MGM, reviving her career).

For me, this is a fun film, made very much so by its wonderful cast! Cary Grant just works so well as Johnny Case, especially throwing in his acrobatic abilities as a method for the character to put his troubles behind him. Katharine Hepburn is fun as the older sister Linda, who is trying to rebel against her father’s wishes while still caring for her siblings. Only problem with the two is that, once you see they are both in the movie, whether or not you’ve seen it before, you know they’re going to end up together (but I’m not complaining). And Edward Everett Horton is, well, Edward Everett Horton, which makes this movie worth it for him alone! A very fun film, and my second favorite of the four films that teamed up Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, only behind Bringing Up Baby (to be fair, I still haven’t seen all four, but I can’t imagine their first film together, Sylvia Scarlet, changing my mind)! Holiday is certainly one movie I would very much recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. The new restoration included on this release is fantastic! For the picture quality alone, this set is well worth it, and I can’t even begin to recommend it enough!

Film Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Bringing Up Baby (1938) – Katharine Hepburn – The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)Cary GrantOnly Angels Have Wings (1939)

College Swing (1938) – Edward Everett Horton – Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Desk Set (1957)

And here we are for the eighth pairing of that famous screen team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, the 1957 comedy Desk Set.

In this movie, Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, the head of the reference library at the Federal Broadcast Network and Spencer Tracy plays Richard Sumner, the creator of a computer called EMERAC (short for Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator). He is brought in to observe how Bunny and the other ladies work in the reference library, while he also figured out how to install EMERAC there. Bunny and the rest of the ladies working there are all worried that EMERAC will end up replacing them, although Richard tries to assure them that won’t be the case. Bunny has been going with Mike Cutler (Gig Young) for nearly seven years, but she finds herself falling for Richard.

Now, I would say this movie kind of qualifies as a Christmas movie. Most of the last part of the movie takes place around Christmastime. Mostly, it’s just an office Christmas party, with many of the workers partying together and getting drunk. And then, of course, they are hit with questions about the words to “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and the names of Santa’s reindeer (with Spencer Tracy’s Richard Sumner getting the question the second time and getting them mixed up with the dwarves from “Snow White”).

I think this is a fun movie. I admit, the EMERAC computer in some ways dates this movie, considering this was the age when computers took up most of a room, as opposed to the much smaller PCs, laptops, tablets, etc. that most of us are used to by this time. Of course, the worry about technology replacing people is still around, so that still keeps the movie somewhat current. But to see the reference library in action is kind of fun. I enjoyed seeing the ladies able to rattle off some information off the top of their heads, while going off in the library to find other information (of course, it’s nice to see how patient people were back then, as I can’t see people being as happy today if Google were to take that long to answer any questions like that). But, my point here is that I enjoy this movie, and would heartily recommend it to anybody!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Pat And Mike (1952) – Spencer Tracy

Pat And Mike (1952) – Katharine Hepburn

The Opposite Sex (1956) – Joan Blondell

Original Vs. Remake: The Philadelphia Story (1940) vs. High Society (1956)

And in this edition of “Original Vs. Remake,” we take a look at The Philadelphia Story (1940) (PS) and High Society (1956) (HS).

The plots are very similar, so I’ll just try to go with the common points of the story. Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn, PS or Grace Kelly, HS) is getting married again. Her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant, PS or Bing Crosby, HS) is back in town, hoping to get her to come back to him. Tracy also has to contend with a writer, Mike Connor (James Stewart, PS or Frank Sinatra, HS) and a photographer, Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey, PS or Celeste Holm, HS), who are there from SPY magazine to cover her wedding. Tracy feels pressure from her father and Dexter, who are trying to remind her that nobody is infallible, including her, which increasingly confuses her, and leads her to start drinking too much champagne, almost getting her into an affair with Mike Connor.

Not really much to say here on the similarities, since High Society is a remake, and does make use of a good fraction of dialogue from The Philadelphia Story, so we’ll just dig into the differences. Obviously, one big difference is the fact that PS is a comedy/drama, whereas HS is a musical. The setting also changes, with it being Philadelphia in PS, whereas it is in Newport, Rhode Island (which may have been because the film was planned as a combination of two films projects, one was a remake of PS, and the other was planned on the Newport Jazz Festival).

The actors’ portrayals are also different. With Cary Grant, I’m left with the feeling that he is bitter over the divorce, which is why his words feel like they have a little more venom, while Bing Crosby’s Dexter is not quite so bitter, and almost seems to have come to terms with the idea of her remarrying (although he obviously wishes it could be him). With Katharine Hepburn, I can’t help but feel like her Tracy Lord has always been a bit of a snob, looking down on other’s faults, while Grace Kelly’s Tracy seems like she wasn’t always so bad (as shown through her flashback when she is reminded of Dexter’s ship the “True Love”), mainly changing as the result of when her father cheated on her mother. And as to the two reporters from SPY magazine, James Stewart and Ruth Hussey’s characters seem more like they wish they could do what they want, but their necessity for money dictates that they have to work for SPY, while Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm’s characters are doing this as a normal job.

As to my own opinion as to which movie I consider the better movie? That would be High Society. I do enjoy both movies very much, but I usually prefer musicals and I like Bing Crosby as an actor. My opinion of The Philadelphia Story has definitely improved (and being able to see it restored on Blu-ray helps a little), but that opening scene still bothers me. I understand how it was done partly for audiences of the time who didn’t like Katharine Hepburn and wanted to see her knocked down, but it still bothers me, since I still don’t have that frame of mind. If not for that scene, I do think it would be a lot closer for me, but I still prefer High Society. However, both movies are wonderful, and I would certainly recommend watching either of them and making up your own mind!

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

My Rating: 9/10

High Society (1956)

My Rating: 10/10

The Winner (in my opinion): High Society

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Time to delve into the classic 1940 comedy, The Philadelphia Story, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart!

As Miss Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) prepares to marry her second husband, George Kittredge (John Howard), her first husband, C. K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) arrives with a writer, Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart), and a photographer, Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey), from SPY magazine, who are supposed to write about her wedding.  As the wedding gets closer, Tracy begins to feel conflicted, with George essentially putting her on a pedestal, while Dexter and her estranged father remind her that even she has faults, and shouldn’t be so harsh with her criticisms of others.

This movie is famous for essentially being Katharine Hepburn’s big comeback movie.  Apparently, partway through the thirties, she had been labeled “box office poison.” I’m not sure what film exactly caused this, although it seems like I read that maybe it was the failure of the 1935 movie Sylvia Scarlett (incidentally, also the first of the four movies in which she would be paired with Cary Grant).  After a few years of mixed to dismal results, she went back to Broadway, and got a role in the play The Philadelphia Story, which was able to showcase her abilities.  Howard Hughes bought the film rights and gave them to her, which allowed her the choice of director and cast (not to mention the ability to star in the movie).

I’ll admit, I’m currently coming off my second time viewing this movie (and the first in nearly a decade), but my opinion has improved over time (and seeing it restored on a recent Blu-ray release helps a little, too).  The first time I saw it, I didn’t particularly care for the movie, especially since I had seen the musical remake High Society for a few years already (and enjoyed that movie very much), so being a non-musical film version was, at that time, a strike against it.  The opening scene itself, as we see Dexter and Tracy separating (with him knocking her down), was also a point against it.  In the time since, I’ve seen another reviewer suggesting that maybe it would work better after having seen a few of their previous screwball films together.  When I first saw this movie, I don’t think I had seen much, if any, movies from either of them, but now, years later, I have seen quite a few (including two of the previous three movies they had made together).  It’s still a little rough, but I can see a little more humor in it (although not as much as audiences of the time, who may have wanted to see Katharine Hepburn knocked on her keister just due to her perceived personality, which audiences didn’t like at the time).

I know I have a lot to say on this, but this is a wonderful movie, and a bona fide classic.  I do very heartily recommend it to anybody interested.  This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Only Angels Have Wings (1939)Cary GrantOnce Upon A Honeymoon (1942)

Holiday (1938) – Katharine Hepburn – Pat And Mike (1952)

The Shop Around The Corner (1940) – James Stewart – The Glenn Miller Story (1954)