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May 17, 2011

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jbryant

It's been too long since I've seen the film to weigh in with any agreements or disagreements, except to say I've always thought of it as a film I like. But I do think Hepburn and Tracy would've been asked to re-team if only because the film was a hit with audiences and liked well enough within the industry to earn an Oscar for its script and a nod for Hepburn.

jbryant

Oh, and great concept for a series of columns, by the way!

Brian

This is wonderful-- I love the specifics you both mention, and also agree it's a great idea for an ongoing feature. Glenn, I know it was awhile ago, but do you remember which films Claire reviewed? I still have my old PREMIEREs somewhere, and would love to read her stuff.

lazarus

A fun read, but is this really worth it for you two in terms of cinema pleasure? Only a few of these films are even ones I'd ever want to see again, and I'm a HUGE Hepburn fan. If you can make it through all of them you will have my admiration...or sympathy.

I think you guys would have had a lot more fun with The Thin Man set, or even that boxed set of non-Thin Man pairings of Powell & Loy.

lipranzer

I seem to remember liking this, at least until the end, but I must also admit I haven't seen it in years either. It may not measure up to ADAM'S RIB or PAT AND MIKE, but not many romantic comedies do to begin with.

Paul Anthony Johnson

You've hit on idea here that just might make SOME CAME RUNNING the most entertaining film blog in existence.

I like WOMAN OF THE YEAR, or at least the first half or so, mainly because I think Tracy's particularly terrific in it. But the second that little kid enters the picture it just curls up in a corner and dies. Also, while the film is idiotic in terms of gender, I think it's rather smart in terms of class. At least that's the defense I built up in my head when I last saw it several years ago.

Kent Jones

Sparkling repartee.

Claire's remarks on the last scene seem dead-on to me. The pace is pure Laurel & Hardy, to be sure, but the idea that Hepburn would walk into a kitchen and turn into Spanky McFarland is idiotic. You have to hand it to her, because she tries to make it work, but no one could…except Spanky himself. Her anxiety is terrible - every shot of her alarmed face seems to be accompanied by flashing lights, the business with the falling shoulder straps is another layer that doesn't add anything, and the bulging waffle looks like a balloon coated in off-white paint, which is undoubtedly what it was.

But regarding Glenn's remarks about Stevens, there might be something else to consider. Like The Siren, I like Stevens, and I like GIANT, and I like the scene she describes in GIANT. Nonetheless, I find that Stevens' work is aging, coming apart at the seams a little. There's a laboriousness, learned from his training in slow-burn comedy, that I am starting to find precious, overly worked. And there's this sense of each little behavioral nugget being polished until it sparkles that is starting to seem as quaint as one of those old Christmas cards you find in vintage clothing shops. Personally, I love it, because it's a part of my childhood, but I think it's breaking down.

SWING TIME is a beautiful movie. I haven't seen ALICE ADAMS in ages, but I used to love it. The 40s movies might be the most laborious, but watching PENNY SERENADE is like listening to one of Irene Dunne's old 78s - just as beautiful, just as fragile. I admire the seriousness of A PLACE IN THE SUN, but it's too fussy, and it really doesn't, or can't, do justice to Dreiser. Like The Siren, I really like SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR. And I think SHANE and GIANT are great. But maybe even those movies are starting to seem rickety, and a little precious.

lipranzer

I don't find THE MORE THE MERRIER laborious at all; I think it's quite romantic and funny, the latter especially whenever Charles Coburn is on-screen. And I also think ALICE ADAMS holds up pretty well. I am of the opinion, however, that Stevens' post-WWII work does tend to get laborious, though (and yes, sadly, I do include SHANE, GIANT, and to a lesser extent, A PLACE IN THE SUN in that assessment, even though they both have undeniably good things about them), and his pre-WWII stuff tends to work the best for me.

BLH

I like The More the Merrier quite a lot, but it doesn't start getting really good until it stops trying to be funny. That same sense mentioned above of something being "off" about the slapstick applies here to the early scenes of Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn fumbling around a too-small apartment. It's just the pacing is wrong or it feels overly fussed-with or something.

Kent Jones

BLH, same with TALK OF THE TOWN, at least as I remember it.

lipranzer, I know that everyone finds the post-war films laborious, and I suppose I agree. But the films made before and during the war are supposed to be light, whereas the ones made after are quite deliberately and sometimes daringly mannered. To me, calling GIANT "heavy" is like calling CLUELESS "light."

Brian Dauth

Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote the last scene of WOTY after an unsuccessful preview, and was not pleased with the way Stevens directed it (Cukor was one of the few directors who worked well with a script in which Mankiewicz had a hand).

Carrie

I remember reading the original Ring Lardner Jr.-written final scene of WOTY in a Screenwriter's Guild newsletter and it was quite good and in keeping with the rest of the film. The appending of the excruciating Mankiewicz finale was a result of the popular belief (which Hepburn herself subscribed to) that audiences liked seeing the uppity actress kicked off her high horse in the last reel. It worked in The Philadelphia Story, and it was a feature of so many of her post-1940 films.

Stephanie

The original script was written by Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin, Garson's brother, and Garson may have had his hand in, as well. Lardner wondered why Hepburn wouldn't defend the original ending and he thought that perhaps she was still sufficiently spooked by her near-death career experience to be unsure of her judgment and unwilling to risk that this film might not succeed commercially. (Apparently preview audiences responded well to the botched waffles.)

I like the first half of the film. It's funny and Hepburn and Tracy are setting off sparks that wouldn't be seen from them again till Adam's Rib (maybe never; the sexual vibe between them is strongest in WOTY). Also, Tracy is at his most attractive - not saying much IMO, but he's still very appealing in the first half. Later he is less so mainly because the deck is so plainly being stacked for him. In a way that's true all through the movie, but it gets really bad then and the Hepburn character is deprived of all charm and wit.

I'm not sure you want to waste your time plowing through all of these films, though. Some of them are just not that good or interesting.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks Stephanie, but except for the second half of "Pat and Mike" and "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," a picture with which we're both pretty familiar to begin with, the plowing has been accomplished.

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