Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Libeled Lady (1936)

Today, we’ve got some fun with the 1936 screwball comedy Libeled Lady, starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy!  But first, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to start us off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Keystone Hotel (1935)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 14 minutes, 53 seconds)

Count Drewa Blanc (Ben Turpin) has to choose the winner of a beauty contest at the Keystone Hotel, but everybody is trying to tell him who to pick.  This short was a lot of fun!  I hadn’t previously seen any shorts featuring the Keystone Kops (just their all-too-quick appearance in Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops), so this was a treat!  The lead-up to the beauty contest as we’re introduced to some of the characters was fun, but it was when the Count picked the “wrong” lady that everything REALLY got better, with the food fight at the hotel and the Kops making their madcap drive to get there.  A very enjoyable treat, and one I plan to watch more!

Coming Up Shorts! with… New Shoes (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 23 seconds)

Two pairs of shoes decide to pinch the feet of their new owners, as the owners go out with each other.  An interesting but bizarre short, as the two shoes talk to each other.  It’s musical, but the songs themselves are quite forgettable.  Personally, I find the story itself to be too bizarre, and it’s not helped by the short itself being in rough shape (and therefore harder to understand everything that’s said/sung).  Probably won’t be revisiting this one any time soon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Cheeser (1936)

(available as an extra on the Libeled Lady Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 22 seconds)

Little Cheeser is tired of being “Mama’s little man,” and decides to listen to the devil on his shoulder and get into mischief. An interesting cartoon, although hardly original, with the fight between good and bad being waged by the shoulder angel and devil. Of course, these two do seem to be real, in terms of their interactions with the rest of the world. Still, the subject matter as a whole doesn’t work as well here (and, quite frankly, I much the prefer the 1938 Disney cartoon “Donald’s Better Self,” which covers similar territory but is far more memorable to me). The animation would be the only reason to give this one a shot (although, preferably, when it has been restored, since it wasn’t for this release).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Uh oh!  Fake news alert!  The New York Evening Star has published a story about rich heiress Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) breaking up a marriage, but it turns out to be false!  The newspaper tries to stop the story, but enough copies get out that Connie and her father, J.B. Allenbury (Walter Connolly), find out and decide to sue the newspaper for five million dollars.  Unable to do much else, editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) turns to former reporter (and somebody who has also specialized in dealing with libel suits) Bill Chandler (William Powell) for help.  The plan?  Try to make the story true.  The two of them convince Warren’s frequently frustrated fiancée Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) to marry Bill in a civil ceremony, and then have her catch her new “husband” in the act.  No sooner is the ceremony over than Bill is off to London, with plans to join the Allenburys for their boat trip back to America.  He tries to ingratiate himself by helping out Connie and learning all he can about being a fisherman (to find an in with her father, an avid fisherman).  J. B. is impressed, but Connie smells a (gold-digging) rat.  Still, Bill gets invited on a fishing trip with the Allenburys, where he plans to end the whole thing.  What he doesn’t count on is his own feelings!  He finds himself falling for Connie (and she for him), so he tries to postpone the “scene” with Gladys.  While he tries to see Connie in secret, he treats Gladys kindly (with her also falling for him in the process).  Meanwhile, Warren is in the hot seat, as he believes Bill hasn’t seen Connie during all this time (until he visits Connie himself to convince her to drop the suit, and Bill walks in).  Now, Warren has some ammo to get Gladys to turn on Bill again.  With all this trouble, will true love win out, or will everybody suffer?

Actress Jean Harlow had been trying to diversify the types of roles she had been doing, with varying results.  Libeled Lady was a return to some of her more comedic roots.  However, she was initially disappointed when she was cast as Gladys Benton.  Being that, offscreen, she was in love with her co-star William Powell, she had wanted to be Connie Allenbury, so that their characters would wind up together.  She didn’t get her way, though, as the film was generally intended as another vehicle for the screen team of William Powell and Myrna Loy (but Jean did at least get the wedding scene with William Powell, which was more than she got offscreen, since she died before they could ever get married).  In spite of the issue of casting, the four leads were all friends, and got along quite well throughout filming.  Of course, the movie proved to be a hit with audiences, and would even be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar that year (although it lost to another William Powell/Myrna Loy film, The Great Ziegfeld).

So, how do I like this movie?  It’s a screwball comedy.   Need I say more?  Wait a minute.  I do?  Ok.  How about my score for this movie?

My Rating: 10/10

Still not enough?  Then I’ll keep going.  The cast alone makes this fun!  As the managing editor, Spencer Tracy’s Warren Haggerty seems cut from the same cloth as Cary Grant’s Walter Burns from His Girl Friday, in terms of the lengths he will go to for his newspaper (which makes for a lot of hilarity right there).  Jean Harlow as his put upon girlfriend adds to the fun, particularly in the ways that she deals with William Powell’s Bill Chandler early on in the film.  Their fake marriage is really fun (especially when they’re not performing for anybody).  But, the big draw here is William Powell and Myrna Loy together!  Out of the fourteen movies they made together, this is only the second one that I have had the chance to see (although, as I write this, After The Thin Man is in my stack of movies to watch, and that review will likely be posted first).  These two certainly bring the comedy here, whether it’s her suspicions of him when they first meet, or the whole fishing trip.  But, everybody works well in this movie, and the laughs are sure to come!  So, don’t hesitate!  Give this one a chance!  You won’t regret it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Libeled Lady (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection, working from a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements.  From the sounds of it, this is a movie that we BARELY got on Blu-ray.  The original camera negative was long gone, as the result of the infamous fire that destroyed many MGM camera negatives.  They had a second generation fine grain master (made back in the 1960s) to work with, but that was in really rough shape.  Still, they pulled off a miracle, giving us a transfer with a clean image (in a good way), that shows off the detail in fine form!  Seriously, this Blu-ray is wonderful, and should be the way you experience this well-made screwball comedy classic!

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 10/10 (repeated for the sake of keeping things uniform, as well as re-emphasizing my high opinion of the movie)

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dinner At Eight (1933) – Jean Harlow

My Man Godfrey (1936) – William Powell – After The Thin Man (1936)

The Thin Man (1934) – Myrna Loy – After The Thin Man (1936)

San Francisco (1936) – Spencer Tracy – Without Love (1945)

It Happened One Night (1934) – Walter Connolly – Nothing Sacred (1937)

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 (2021) with… San Francisco (1936)

We’re back again for the classic 1936 movie San Francisco, starring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald! Now, I had originally planned to post this back on February 14 as part of my Star Of The Month blogathon on Clark Gable, but then it was announced for release on Blu-ray, so I decided to delay it until I could see the new Blu-ray (and wrote about Mogambo instead). Still, most of what I had to say hasn’t changed, so here it is! Of course, we still have a few theatrical shorts to start things off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bottles (1936)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 16 seconds)

When a druggist falls asleep one night, all the bottles in his shop come to life. This one is part of MGM’s “Happy Harmonies” series of shorts, and a fun one. In usual fashion for cartoons of the era, there isn’t a lot of story, but just stuff going on with a lot of characters singing various songs. While not as much fun as some of the Disney shorts of the era (in my opinion), this one was still enjoyable, and worth seeing every now and then.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Cavalcade Of San Francisco (1940)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 55 seconds)

This is a short from MGM’s TravelTalk series narrated by James A. FitzPatrick, which focuses on the Californian city of San Francisco. We get a bit of a view of the city’s landmarks (from about 1940), as well as a few bits about its history. It ends with some scenes from a World’s Fair exposition showing the history of the American West. It’s an interesting short, especially to see San Francisco from that time period, but, without any personal connections to the city myself, I find this to be one that I will probably not be revisiting any time soon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Night Descends On Treasure Island (1940)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 6 seconds)

Another short from the TravelTalk series, this one focuses on the Golden Gate International Exposition at night time. We see a lot of the lit-up fountains, and various light shows, along with a number of paintings from the Palace Of Fine And Decorative Arts. Supposedly a follow-up to another short in the series that was filmed during the daytime. It’s another interesting one that allows us a view into that part of history when the Exposition was there, before the lights and everything would be turned off (like the short itself keeps emphasizing).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Our story starts in the waning hours of 1905 in San Francisco. Blackie Norton (Clark Gable), the owner of the Paradise Cafe in the Barbary Coast, is celebrating the New Year when he sees firetrucks heading towards the Barbary Coast. He watches the firefighters put out the fire before heading back to his place. While he’s there, he meets singer Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald), who just lost her living quarters due to the fire. He takes a liking to her and offers her a two-year contract to sing at the Paradise. As a result of the fire, a group of citizens band together and ask Blackie to run for supervisor, in the hope that he will help improve many of the unsafe buildings in the area. With the support of his friend, Father Tim Mullin (Spencer Tracy), Blackie decides to run. His opponent, Jack Burley (Jack Holt), decides to pay him a visit and convince him to withdraw. He also brings along Señor Baldini (William Riccardi), the maestro at the Tivoli Opera House (which Burley owns). The two of them hear Mary singing, and try to convince her to come sing at the Tivoli. Although it’s her dream to sing there, she is stuck at the Paradise, since Blackie won’t let her out of her contract. However, Burley isn’t willing to give up, and keeps trying to make an offer. One night, Blackie, feeling confident she wouldn’t take up the offer, tells Burley that he will let her go, if she wants to. Without knowing this, she at first decides to stick with Blackie. However, when he throws a party to celebrate their “relationship,” she realizes she doesn’t mean that much to him, and leaves, taking him up on his offer to let her out of his contract. On opening night at the Tivoli, Blackie comes with a process server, intending to stop the show. However, he finds himself mesmerized by her singing, and decides to let the show go on. Afterwards, he goes to meet her backstage. Happy to see him again, Mary proposes marriage, and he accepts. However, when Burley comes backstage, Blackie makes his acceptance of her proposal depend upon her return to the Paradise Cafe. She decides to come back to the Paradise, but Father Tim objects to how Blackie is exploiting her in a revealing costume. Infuriated, Blackie punches his friend, and Mary decides to leave and go back to the Tivoli, which really angers Blackie. Even with this victory (and Mary accepting his proposal of marriage), Burley still insists on revoking Blackie’s liquor license and jailing his performers. Of course, this happens on the night of the Chickens Ball, a party where Blackie’s performers had been winning an entertainment competition in previous years (with a cash prize that Blackie sorely needed this time for his campaign fund). When Mary finds out what Burley did, she volunteers to go on for the Paradise, and wins easily. However, Blackie is furious with her and throws away the cash. Before anything else can happen, the city is hit with a very powerful earthquake, which makes a huge mess of things. Blackie manages to crawl out of the rubble, but Mary is nowhere to be seen. Can Blackie find her, or has the earthquake claimed the woman he loves?

While the posters proudly proclaimed that this movie was the first time that Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald shared the screen (and, to the best of my knowledge, would be the only time), the real team here was Gable and Spencer Tracy, in the first of three films they made together. Not only that, it helped Spencer Tracy’s career start to take off, after he had struggled at 20th Century Fox (who didn’t know what to do with him) and had signed with MGM. It ended up being the first of his nine nominations for the Best Actor Oscar. It was also a career changer for Jeanette MacDonald, who had mainly done some light operettas up to that point. Of course, the earthquake from the final twenty minutes or so is probably what this movie is best-known for, supposedly done by MGM’s special effects artist James Basevi (although Arnold Gillespie is given the credit).

Ah, Clark Gable. Where to begin? As best as I can tell, the film’s writers (Anita Loos and Robert Hopkins) based Clark’s character of Blackie Norton on real-life figure Wilson Mizner. Now, I know very little (if anything) about Wilson Mizner, but I do know that I like Clark Gable’s performance here. He does a great job portraying a character who, as Spencer Tracy’s Father Mullin puts it, is ashamed of his good deeds the way others would be ashamed of their bad deeds. Besides him giving the organ to his friend’s church, we also see it in his treatment of Jeanette MacDonald’s Mary, especially when she proposes to him, as he makes it clear it’s her idea, and then he later asks if they can postpone it until after the election, since he had long derided the institution of marriage. But, more than that, his character seems to have parallels to the city of San Francisco (at least, as it is portrayed in this movie). The city is described by some characters as being quite “wicked” and ungodly, as he is. We watch as things get worse for the city and him as everyone’s pride increases, until his rejection of goodness (when he turns down her help at the Ball), at which point the earthquake strikes. Then, we see the citizens of the city (and him) start to reform. However you look at it, his performance has certainly made the movie easy to watch!

Now, when I first saw this movie, I had had no prior experience with actress and singer Jeanette MacDonald (outside of whatever clips were used in the That’s Entertainment film series). I still enjoyed the movie then, with all the performances working quite well, and the religious elements of the story certainly appealed to me. Having seen some of her other films in the time since I first watched the movie, I can appreciate her performance even more here. Of course, her rendition of the title song by Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann is quite memorable, as is her introduction of the Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed song “Would You” (later used in the classic Singin’ In The Rain). But, I find myself also enjoying hearing her sing several hymns near the end of the movie, including “Nearer My God To Thee” and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.” All in all, whether it’s for Clark, Jeanette, Spencer, the earthquake sequence (which was done quite well, in my opinion), or any of a number of other reasons, this is a movie I enjoy watching every now and then! Certainly one you’ll find me having no hesitation about recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. The original camera negative was lost in the infamous MGM fire, so they were working from a combination of a nitrate fine grain second generation film elements (that were dubbed in French) and some more domestic elements. The results are fantastic (but, of course, this is WAC, so that’s nothing new). For those that don’t know, this movie has had two different endings. The film’s original ending had a montage of footage from then-modern day San Francisco (which included a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, then under construction), and a 1948 re-issue removed that, showing instead a freeze frame of then-current San Francisco. The DVD had the ending from the 1948 re-issue (and the original as an extra), whereas the new Blu-ray has the original 1936 ending restored to the movie (and the other included as a silent extra). Overall, I’m thrilled with this release, and would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

**ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)Clark GableMogambo (1953)

Rose-Marie (1936)Jeanette MacDonaldMaytime (1937)

Spencer Tracy – Libeled Lady (1936)

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!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Father Of The Bride (1950)

For the Third Spencer Tracy And Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Michaela of Love Letters To Old Hollywood, I have Spencer Tracy’s 1950 solo outing Father Of The Bride, also starring Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor!  But first, we have a Popeye short, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.  Once we’re past that, let’s head on down to the stage, where I’ll hand things over to the narrator to tell the story!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Anvil Chorus Girl (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto come across Olive, who is working as a blacksmith and try to help her out. A bunch of hilarious gags as Popeye and Bluto try to show off their abilities as a blacksmith. A bit of fun here, especially since this seems to be voice actor Jackson Beck’s first turn as Bluto. Also apparently a remake of an earlier Fleischer era short, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough on its own merit!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): We open on a house that has clearly just held a big party. As we survey the mess of confetti, streamers and trash, we come upon a worn out Stanley Banks (Spencer Tracy). As he notices us, he starts to talk about weddings, thinking in particular of the one he just went through, and how it started just a few months before…

(Host): Flashback!

(Narrator): Indeed! Activate the time machine!

(Use your imaginations for time travel effects here. All I can do is say we’ve gone back three months.)

(Narrator): Three months earlier, Stanley came home from work just like any other day. During dinner, his daughter, Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), casually mentions that she has become engaged to Buckley Dunstan. Although uneasy about it at first, Stanley decides to support her in the idea. His wife, Ellie (Joan Bennett), almost immediately starts throwing herself into wedding preparations, but he is still unsure, trying to not only remember who Buckley is amongst her beaus, but also worrying about what kind of a life he could give her. He passes on these worries to Ellie, and, once he remembers who Buckley (Don Taylor) is, they make arrangements to meet his parents, Herbert (Moroni Olsen) and Doris (Billie Burke) Dunstan. Not long after the meeting of the parents, Stanley and Ellie throw a party to announce the engagement, although Stanley doesn’t get to announce it since he is stuck in the kitchen the whole time making drinks for everyone. As much as he had hoped for it to be a small wedding, the costs start getting larger, forcing him to attempt to shrink the guest list, with little success. Other than the spiraling costs, things run smoothly until Kay and Buckley have a fight over the honeymoon plans and Kay decides to call off the wedding. However, the two come to their senses and reconcile. Of course, they still have the wedding rehearsal to get through, and that doesn’t go too well (at least, not according to Stanley). The night before the wedding, Stanley’s fears of ruining the wedding cause him to have a nightmare –

(Eerie music quickly plays on organ backstage)

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. His jitters result in him going after a late snack, where he also finds Kay with her own worries. He is able to talk her through calmly (in spite of his own anxieties), and they get through the night. The next day comes, and the place is a madhouse, as everybody tries to get ready for the wedding itself, while getting things around at the house for the reception later.

(Organ starts playing “Here Comes The Bride)

(Narrator): And there we have it, with the wedding going off without a hitch, and the reception also going well. That should do for the story. Now, let’s get back to our host. By the way, nice organ playing back there.

(Host): What do you mean? I’ve been out here the whole time!

(Organ begins playing VERY eerie music backstage)

(Wakes up in bed in a cold sweat)

(Host): Ok, that was pretty freaky. (Sorry, had to get some Halloween fun in there! 😉 ) Getting serious again, I know I enjoy this movie a lot, mostly because of Spencer Tracy. We get the whole tale more or less told from his character’s point of view, and it makes it easy to sympathize with his feelings on the matter. More than anything, the film is about the relationship between his character and his daughter (as played by Elizabeth Taylor). And that relationship feels real, from the way she calls him “Pops” and comes to him when she has trouble, or the way he tries to help her out (even if he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth). I’ve heard that Spencer Tracy had wanted Katharine Hepburn to play his wife in this movie, but others thought they were too romantic a team to play a domestic couple with children. Whatever the reason, I’m glad she wasn’t cast in this instance, as I feel that would have altered the movie too much. As we got it, the story is being told from Spencer Tracy’s perspective, and, as such, it focuses on him. If Katharine Hepburn was in it, I feel like it would have been harder to tell the story from his perspective, and it would have given us a different film entirely.

Whatever the case may be, it’s still a well-told story. Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor are not the only ones who give good performances here, as we get something good from everybody. Joan Bennett does great as the wife, who eagerly looks forward to planning the wedding (even after Spencer’s character unloads his worries on her). Billie Burke has a fun (although way too short) appearance as Buckley’s mother, and up-and-coming Russ Tamblyn (here billed as “Rusty”) has a background role as one of Kay’s brothers. For me, this is a fun film, that certainly earned its sequel, giving us more time with these wonderful characters. Admittedly, I’ve only seen the sequel once, since it is public domain and hasn’t been given a good release by Warner (who has the film elements), but I remember liking it well enough. I’ve never seen the remake (or its sequel) with Steve Martin, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me to try that, when I’ve got the opportunity to see the far-superior (in my mind) actor and comedian Spencer Tracy. I certainly want to thank Crystal and Michaela for hosting this wonderful blogathon, as it was a fun reminder to revisit an old favorite that, for me, slipped through the cracks. This is a wonderful movie, and one I have no trouble whatsoever recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Without Love (1945) – Spencer Tracy – Pat And Mike (1952)

Wedding Present (1936) – Joan Bennett – We’re No Angels (1955)

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Billie Burke

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Leo G. Carroll – We’re No Angels (1955)

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!

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