Pat and Mike is the Sports movie that your grandparents used to love. That was back when they had active memories of their youth instead of daily fears of an airborne death. But, while you’re indoors for awhile, you might as well crack open the Warner Archive Blu-ray release of Pat and Mike. But, what about those of you that don’t like Hepburn and Tracy movies?
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were an odd team. Basically, you had a way older man seducing a woman that was younger than him. But, the lady wasn’t a typical beauty and more of a nerdy academic socialite type that was desperate to prove herself. If you need something contemporary to work as an analogy, try Harrison Ford going after Tina Fey.
George Cukor is one of my favorite directors to study. Naturally, that doesn’t mean anything good to his fans. But, since I’m beating up on Spencer Tracy in these reviews, I figure I still have something left in the tank from the Without Love coverage. Where to begin?
When Spencer Tracy wasn’t going after Ingrid Bergman or Judy Garland,
he spent time with Loretta Young. While Young’s entanglements with Clark Gable got heavy press around the time of her death, Tracy got off light. But, you also got this. Let’s get back to Pat and Mike.
Pat and Mike was one of the earliest hang movies. Hepburn had her friends write it, Tracy got them to shoot it close to home and the rest of the cast made up of Hollywood heavies and athletes. Serving as Aldo Ray’s film debut, you also get an early turn from Charles Bronson. Why don’t the film bros love this movie?
The answer lies somewhere in understanding why certain film fans gravitate to certain films. In 1952, the Hepburn and Tracy formula was well known to all. Some might even go so far as to call Pat and Mike a little lazy. Serving as the 7th of 9 films the duo made together, Hepburn and Tracy kinda phoned this one in for the 1950s. But, it also feels like the kind of movie that Adam Sandler would make now.
Well, Sandler by way of Ephron. It’s fun to see such a broad comedy from a time that people don’t like to admit provided for such antics. But, here we are and here Pat and Mike sits. Looking back on how the film performed in 1952, I’m still shocked that the screenplay was Oscar nominated. That’s not a knock on Ruth Gordon and company. It just feels like a novelty nomination ala My Big Fat Geek Wedding.
Watching the film one final time before finishing my write-up, something struck me. The story structure of the film is so bizarre even for 1952. Nothing really pressing happens until the final reel of the movie. It was like all this hanging out and then MGM yelled at them to actually have a problem to solve. Then, bam!
If it were up to Mickey and Judy, they would have had a medley, 4 dance numbers, an Irish jig, some Old Man make-up and Judy Garland would’ve been given pep pills by the studio doctor by now. But, it was a different time in 1952. Quite a shame.
Warner Archive continues to do right by Hepburn and Tracy with this winning set. While Pat and Mike didn’t come with any special features, but Without Love did…Pat and Mike won out. Why? Well, because he looks so amazing that Criterion should be kicking themselves for not putting this one out. Pick it up, immediately.