Happy May, everyone! April was a rather unusual month for TCM, but it’s back to the usual schedule for May. June Allyson is May’s Star of the Month and will be featured every Wednesday night. Friday Night Spotlight returns with a look at Australian cinema hosted by Jacki Weaver. Since I haven’t seen many Australian films, I look forward to having the chance to see more. For Memorial Day weekend, TCM will be having their annual 72-hour marathon of war films. May’s Guest Programmer is none other than Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who will be showcasing a few of her favorite movies on May 27th.
Pat Pemberton (Katherine Hepburn) is a first-class athlete, but you’d never know it if she’s playing while her fiance Collier Weld (William Ching) is around. Whenever he’s nearby, he makes her so nervous that she just can’t play as well as she normally would. One day, she and Collier go golfing with Mr. and Mrs. Beminger. Collier is hoping to get Mr. Beminger to make a large donation to Pacific Tech College, so he asks Pat to be Mr. Beminger’s partner and tells her to do her very best so he’ll win. Of course, the pressure makes her a nervous wreck and she doesn’t have a good game. When she gets tired of Mrs. Beminger giving her unsolicited golfing advice, she makes several perfect drives all in a row and storms off. Collier isn’t impressed, but Charles Barry (Jim Backus) sees her real talent and convinces her to enter a tournament.
Pat quickly becomes one of the top players in the tournament and she catches the attention of Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy) and his assistant Barney Grau (Sammy White). Mike wants to become her manager and when he first approaches her about it, she turns him down. As the tournament continues, she does very well and nearly had it won it until Collier showed up and ruined her concentration. As they get on the train to go home, Pat and Collier get into a fight which makes Pat decide to take Mike up on his offer. After getting to know Pat better, Mike is surprised to learn that she’s actually pretty new to golfing and that she’s even better at tennis.
Under his guidance, she becomes a famous tennis player, but she still can’t play well if Collier is around. When Collier causes her to lose a big match, Mike and Collier get into an argument, but Pat is getting tired of being treated like a piece of property. But despite that, Pat continues training with Mike and they begin to fall in love with each other. When Mike runs into some trouble with some gamblers, Pat helps him out by beating up the gamblers, which makes Mike admit he’s having a hard time dealing with a woman stronger than he is. Collier hasn’t given up on Pat yet, though, and when he accuses her of having an affair with Mike, she lets him believe it. With Collier finally out of the picture, Mike realizes he needs Pat just as much as Pat needs him and together, they’re unstoppable.
Of all the movies Katharine Hepburn made with Spencer Tracy, Pat and Mike was her personal favorite of the bunch and it’s easy to see why. Hepburn was always a very athletic woman and she clearly enjoyed being able to show off her golfing and tennis skills alongside real-life female athletes like Babe Zaharias and Gussie Moran. As always, Hepburn and Tracy were delightful to watch together and Tracy has just as much fun as Mike as Hepburn had as Pat. Simply, it’s just a nice light-but-smart romantic comedy. Even if you’re not a big fan of sports, Pat and Mike is still extremely enjoyable. If I were to rank my favorite Tracy/Hepburn movies, I’d say Pat and Mike is my second favorite, right behind Adam’s Rib.
How is it already time for another round of Summer Under the Stars?! As usual, TCM has done a great job of coming up with a nice blend of stars who are no strangers to the SUTS schedule and stars who have never been featured before. The more I look at the schedule, the more excited I get to start my Blogging Under the Stars marathon.
Some of the days I’m most looking forward to are: Myrna Loy (August 2), Marilyn Monroe (August 4), Toshiro Mifune (August 9), Ginger Rogers (August 12), James Cagney (August 14), Lillian Gish (August 15), Jack Lemmon (August 22), Gene Kelly (August 23), Kay Francis (August 21), and Warren William (August 30). I have seen woefully few Akira Kurosawa films, so I am really looking forward to Toshiro Mifune’s day. As a fan of silents and pre-codes, I was thrilled to see Lillian Gish, Kay Francis, and Warren William got spots on this year’s line-up. Lately, I’ve been really getting into Tyrone Power movies, so I’m glad to see he got a day this year. And since I’ve always wanted to see more Jeanette MacDonald movies, I’ll definitely be tuning in a lot for her day.
The complete Summer Under the Stars schedule is available to be download here.
Happy May, everyone! It certainly looks like it’s going to be a busy month on TCM. Joel McCrea is the star of the month, which is something I know a lot of people have been wanting to see for quite some time. He’ll be featured every Wednesday night this month. Every Thursday night will be all about movies based on true crime stories. Plus there’s the annual 48-hour war movie marathon for Memorial day will run from May 27-28. So without further ado, let’s get to the schedule:
In Simpsons episode 1F02, “Homer Goes to College,” Homer is found to be grossly under-qualified for his job and is ordered to go to college and pass Nuclear Physics 101. In this scene, Lisa tries to help Homer fill out his college applications:
Lisa: “Dad, don’t let these application essays throw you. Let’s see… ‘List your three favorite books and how they’ve influenced your life.’”
Homer: “Is ‘TV Guide’ a book?”
Homer: “‘Son of Sniglet’?”
Homer: “Katharine Hepburn’s ‘Me’?”
Homer: “Oh, I suck!”
We’re down to the last month of 2011 already! TCM will be closing out the year in top form. December’s star of the month is William Powell, which I am very excited about since I’m a big fan of his. It also means we get two nights of movies featuring him with Myrna Loy, one night being the entire Thin Man series and another night featuring their other collaborations. His movies will be showcased every Thursday night this month. TCM will also be celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens a little early (his birthday isn’t actually until February) by devoting Monday nights to showing various film adaptations of his work. And of course there are Christmas classics galore to look forward to!
It looks like May is going to be a pretty busy month on TCM! Esther Williams is the Star of the Month and since her movies tend to make me want to spend some time in the pool, I’d say she’s a good choice to help get you in the mood for summer. This month you will also get a chance to catch the series Moguls and Movie Stars again. If you missed it when it premiered back in November, it’s very much worth checking out. Near the end of the month will be TCM’s annual Memorial Day weekend marathon of classic war films. There are also a lot of great birthday tributes coming up including Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, and Rudolph Valentino.
While at a party one night, the hostess challenges her guests to go out and find either a man who has been married for a long time and has been faithful the entire time or a woman over twenty who has never had a love affair. Monica Strong (Helen Chandler) and her boyfriend Harry head out to find these people. Monica heads straight for home to fetch her father Christopher Strong (Colin Clive), but Harry ends up meeting famous aviatrix Lady Cynthia Darrington (Katharine Hepburn) after they have a minor accident on the road. When Harry finds out that Cynthia meets the requirements, he brings her back to the party. At the party, Monica is thrilled to meet Cynthia and quickly becomes friends with her. Christopher is thrilled to see Monica spending time with Cynthia since he thinks Cynthia is a positive influence on her, but also because he has a growing infatuation with Cynthia. Christopher’s wife Elaine (Billie Burke) suspects her husband has strong feelings for Cynthia and her worst fears are confirmed when Cynthia comes to stay with the family in Cannes.
While in Cannes, Cynthia and Christopher take a late night boat ride after a party and they both confess that they love each other. When they get back to the house, they kiss, which Elaine sees, but agree that they shouldn’t be together. Cynthia distances herself from the Strongs, but can’t help but get involved when Monica comes by her home one night on the brink of suicide. Her mother had forbidden her from seeing Harry because he was married, but now that he’s divorced, he won’t marry her because he found out about a one-night fling she had with another man in Cannes. Cynthia saves her by calling Harry and convincing him to give Monica another chance. After straightening out Monica’s crisis, Cynthia embarks on a challenge to fly around the world. She wins the challenge and becomes something of an international celebrity, but she still longs for her days with Christopher. Much to her surprise, when she lands in New York, Christopher is also in town and eager to see her.
While in New York, they rekindle their romance and Cynthia agrees to give up flying to ease Christopher’s worries. Even though she misses flying, she soon realizes that she has a reason to stay on the ground: she’s going to have a baby. But before she can tell Christopher the news, he finds out that Monica (who is now married to Harry) is expecting a baby of her own. Cynthia goes to congratulate Monica, but Monica and Harry have discovered her affair with Christopher and Monica gives her the cold shoulder. To make matters worse for Cynthia, she feels awfully guilty when Elaine personally thanks her for helping to make Monica so happy. She doesn’t have the heart to destroy Christopher’s marriage, so she gets back in her plane to break the world’s record for altitude and commits suicide.
I thought it was odd that this movie was named after the lead male character when the women are the strongest parts of it. This was only Katherine Hepburn’s second movie, but it really set the tone for the type of roles she’d become infamous for playing: independent, confident women with careers typically held by men. Kate gave a very solid performance, but my only complaint was that her character is supposed to be from England, but she has no trace of a British accent. Billie Burke and Helen Chandler were both also quite memorable, but you can’t talk about the women involved in Christopher Strong without mentioning the director Dorothy Arzner. Just like the character of Cynthia, Dorothy Arzner was also a woman doing a job typically only held by men, so I can’t imagine a better person to direct this movie. On the whole, I thought it had some good performances, but I didn’t think the story was anything particularly special. If I used a star system to rate movies, I’d give it two and a half out of four stars.
It’s also worth noting that there is a scene where Katharine Hepburn dresses up as a moth, which makes Christopher Strong the second movie I’ve reviewed this month where the lead actress dresses up as some sort of insect.
Welcome to week seven of my 100 favorite movies! When I was making this list, I didn’t set out to give each week a theme, but this week is definitely my Cary Grant week. I honestly didn’t realize I’d put so many Cary Grant movies together until I started writing this post. But there’s no such thing as too much Cary Grant, so let’s get onto this week’s list.
Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn, not to be confused with Bette Davis) is a middle-aged, unmarried secretary from Akron, Ohio. After spending a few years saving up the money, she finally fulfills her lifelong dream of vacationing in Venice. Even though she makes friends on the trip over and at the hotel, she quickly becomes lonely when she feels like the only single person amid an ocean of couples. While sitting at a cafe alone, she realizes a man is staring at her, which makes her uncomfortable and she leaves.
The next day, Jane goes shopping and finds herself in a store owned by Renato (Rossano Brazzi), the man who was staring at her in the cafe. He sells her a red glass goblet that he swears is antique and offers to try to find her a matching goblet. Later, he goes to her hotel to ask her to dinner. Jane is initially reluctant, but Renato convinces her to take a chance on him. While they’re talking, another couple at the hotel comes in with half a dozen brand new goblets that look identical to the one Renato sold Jane and swore was antique. Of course, Jane is mad, but Renato eases her worries and the two of them have a lovely evening together.
The next day, Jane spends the day getting all dolled up for her date with Renato that night. While Jane waits for Renato at the cafe, Renato’s assistant comes to tell her Renato is running late, but accidentally admits that Renato is married and has children. Absolutely horrified, Jane leaves and returns to the hotel. Renato finds her and explains that he and his wife are separated, he just didn’t tell her because he didn’t want that to deter her. He manages to convince Jane to stop merely longing for something and to actually experience it. The two of them go on to have a wonderful and happy time together, leaving Jane to decide between staying in Venice with Renato or returning to Akron, Ohio.