Tess and Sam work on the same newspaper and don't like each other very much. At least the first time, because they eventually fall in love and get married. But, Tess is a very active woman and one of the most famous feminists in the country; she is even elected as "the woman of the year". Being busy all the time, she forgets how to really be a woman and Sam begins to feel negleted.
From the same director
Spencer Tracy (Sam Craig), Katharine Hepburn (Tess Harding), Fay Bainter (Ellen Whitcomb), Reginald Owen (Clayton), Minor Watson (William J. Harding), William Bendix ('Pinkie' Peters), Gladys Blake (Flo Peters), Dan Tobin (Gerald Howe), Roscoe Karns (Phil Whittaker), William Tannen (Ellis), Ludwig Stössel (Dr. Lubbeck (as Ludwig Stossel)), Sara Haden (Matron), Edith Evanson (Alma), George Kezas (Chris), Jimmy Ames (Cab Driver (uncredited)), Herbert Ashley (Stage Doorman (uncredited)), Dorothy Ates (Phone Girl (uncredited)), Brooks Benedict (Clayton's Secretary (uncredited)), John Berkes (Pal (uncredited)), Symona Boniface (Tess' Party Guest (uncredited)), Elfriede Borodin (Leni (uncredited)), Jack Carr (Baseball Spectator Behind Tess (uncredited)), Ruth Cherrington (Foreigner (uncredited)), Ann Codee (Madame Sylvia (uncredited)), Jimmy Conlin (Reporter at Bar (uncredited))...
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (producer)
Watching this first pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, it's easy to see why the two became a legendary screen couple (and real-life couple for that matter). They seem perfectly suited for one another, and you can't imagine either of them with anyone else.
But it's hard from a 21st Century sensibility not to be appalled at this WWII-era George Stevens dramedy. Tracy is a sports writer and Hepburn an international reporter for the same newspaper. They meet, marry and fight when she won't abandon her career to settle down into dutiful motherhood. In the end, she gets her comeuppance and realizes that what she wants more than anything is to learn how to separate eggs and make coffee.
Try to forgive it its decidedly un-feminist message though. This came out at a time when the culture was particularly threatened by the idea of women supplanting men in areas traditionally reserved for men, and it wouldn't have been good for soldier morale for men to think women back at home could carry on just fine without them. And at the very end, Tracy does come around and tell Hepburn that he doesn't necessarily want a barefoot and pregnant version of a wife any more than he wants a career-oriented wife who will put her work before her home, but rather wishes she could be something in between. As things play out in the film, this comes as too little too late, but it's a sophisticated attitude for the time and makes the movie much more relevant today, when women are being forced to juggle multiple roles.
Overall I enjoyed this movie, but I thought it was strangely directed by Stevens. I usually enjoy his 40s comedies, but his instincts feel off here. The way he chooses to shoot scenes many times seem in tone to be at odds with what's actually happening in them, so I wasn't always sure what was supposed to be light-hearted and funny and what wasn't. A striking example of this comes in the scene in which Tracy comes back to Hepburn's apartment after their first date. It's supposed to be an erotic and sexually charged scene, but it's shot like a film noir, with Hepburn silhouetted against brightly lit windows and the room in sinister shadow. There's a ponderousness to Stevens' direction that serves as a sneak preview of his prevailing style in the 50s, when he started to make socially "important" movies.
A solidly made but uneven film. If you're expecting a frothy comedy you will be disappointed.
La mujer del año (Argentina, Spain) • Årets kvinde (Denmark) • Årets kvinna (Sweden) • A Mulher do Dia (Brazil) • A Primeira Dama (Portugal) • Az év asszonya (Hungary) • Die Frau von der man spricht (Germany) • Die Frau, von der man spricht (Austria) • Eshet Ha-Shana (Israel (Hebrew title)) • Kobieta roku (Poland (informal title))
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