WOMAN OF THE YEAR

(1942)
With Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, William Bendix, Minor Watson
Directed by George Stevens
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Woman of the Year     In their first screen pairing, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play an oil-and-water combination of hard-boiled sportswriter and prototypical feminist pundit.  She thinks sports are frivolous and should be suspended for the duration of the war; he disagrees and argues that sports are good for the morale of the country and the troops.  Naturally, they fall in love.  From the moment Spence and Kate first share the screen, their uncanny chemistry is evident: two actors so eerily in tune with each other's timing that they know precisely the moments to interject a little one-upsmanship, intuitively aware that the other will respond in kind.  They are the whole show, nearly overcoming a spotty and high-handed screenplay, as well as George Stevens's overly safe direction.  The much-maligned ending, in which Hepburn decides to become a traditional coffee-making housewife, fails not because of its political incorrectness, but because it rings so false and the comedy is so forced.  But there are plenty of delightful scenes (my favorite being Hepburn's first time at a baseball game), and the stars were incapable of making any vehicle less than worthwhile. - JL

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