Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

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Holiday Review


OK
Hit-and-miss Hepburn-Grant production, released the same year as Bringing Up Baby but to a considerably less receptive public. That's because many of the jokes in Holiday fall flat, and while Grant has his characteristic grace and charm, the story he's put into with Hepburn (more earnestly grating here than director George Cukor should have allowed) is on the tepid side (involving a love triangle with Grant and two rich sisters). It all comes off as very stagey (it's based on a play) and not very funny at all. Safely skippable unless you're a big fan of the leads.

Holiday Review


OK
Hit-and-miss Hepburn-Grant production, released the same year as Bringing Up Baby but to a considerably less receptive public. That's because many of the jokes in Holiday fall flat, and while Grant has his characteristic grace and charm, the story he's put into with Hepburn (more earnestly grating here than director George Cukor should have allowed) is on the tepid side (involving a love triangle with Grant and two rich sisters). It all comes off as very stagey (it's based on a play) and not very funny at all. Safely skippable unless you're a big fan of the leads.

Long Day's Journey Into Night Review


Extraordinary
Thanks to her natural trembling, Katharine Hepburn makes for a truly amazing drug addict, in this harrowing and devastation Sidney Lumet film, adapted from Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical story of his turbulent (to put it mildly) home life. In a nutshell: It's one horrific night when all sorts of dirt is dished: From mom's morphine addiction and resentment of son Edmund (Dean Stockwell) over the death of her third-born, to dad's (Ralph Richardson) alcoholism and distaste for mom, to more sibling rivalry from firstborn Jamie (Jason Robards).

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Suddenly, Last Summer Review


Excellent
In 1930s New Orleans, a creepy drama/thriller plays out, with a wealthy heiress (Katharine Hepburn) extorting an upstanding doctor (Montgomery Clift) into giving her neice (Elizabeth Taylor) a lobotomy. Why? That's the rub in this juicy, compelling, and typically overblown Tennessee Williams adaptation. Hepburn and Taylor both earned Oscar nominations for their work; it's hard to pick which turns in a more compelling performance.

On Golden Pond Review


Excellent
The early 1980s were the best of times and the worst of times for movies. Hollywood produced a lot of entertaining blockbusters (the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Terminator movies, Ghostbusters, Blade Runner, WarGames, Airplane!, Risky Business, and so on) which kept the movies fun and exciting. But Hollywood also produced a string of mainstream dramas like Sophie's Choice and Ordinary People which were punishingly grim, superficial, and shallow. Of course, most film critics at the time viewed the former with contempt, and praised the latter as the greatest works of art since Mozart.

On Golden Pond was definitely one of the latter category -- a manipulative, Oscar-ready mainstream drama. But surprisingly, it's not a bad movie.

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The Philadelphia Story Review


Extraordinary
No self-respecting film snob would speak ill of George Cukor's classic romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, with its three major stars (plus the overlooked Ruth Hussey), rat-a-tat dialogue, hairpin plotting, and delightful humor. And so it's my turn -- what have I got to say for myself?

Not much that hasn't already been said. I fall in line with the conventional wisdom that Philadelphia is one of the smartest comedies you'll find. At the film's opening, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) are seen in the midst of their breakup. Fast-forward a few years and Tracy's engaged again, and Dexter shows up with two Spy magazine reporters (James Stewart and Hussey), determined to throw a wrench into things.

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Stage Door Review


Extraordinary
Stage Door deserves its own solid gold time capsule. This is one for the ages, a hyperwitty comedy/drama written by the brilliant Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman who took their play from the Broadway stage to the RKO soundstage and put it in the capable hands of director Gregory La Cava and an all-star cast of the most dazzling leading ladies of the 1930s. No, they don't make 'em like this anymore.

Justifiably famous for a rapid-fire script jam-packed with barbed remarks and caustic retorts, the film makes you stifle your laughter so you don't miss the next oncoming zinger. At one point, an exasperated Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn) says to the delightfully bitchy Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), "It'd be a terrific innovation if you could get your mind to stretch a little further than the next wisecrack." Indeed.

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Woman of the Year Review


Excellent
Cute Hepburn-Tracy vehicle, though Spence looks about 20 years older than Katharine in this rendition, which has his crass sports reporter wooing her society maven and astute political columnist. Opposites attract, and before you know it the two are married. But once she is named "woman of the year," our poor sap hero finds himself neglected and put out that he never gets to see his wife. This is the first of many Tracy & Hepburn movies, and the chemistry's not quite there yet in this one. Some impressively funny scenes and a hilarious ending redeem the long stretches of predictability.

The Lion in Winter Review


Excellent
There's something terribly fascinating about the ruthless intrigue which takes place within a royal court. Think of the shifting allegiances in the recent Elizabeth or the diabolical conspiracies and ingenious assassinations of those ruthless Frenchmen in Queen Margot. Ah, yes -- those elaborate costume-dramas where the powerful survive by wit, cunning, a chess player's penchant for strategy, and the indelible art of the double-cross.

Watching these cinematic treats is nothing short of delicious. Since revenge is a dish best served cold, it seems appropriate that the grand dame of these films takes place in the bleak midwinter of 1183, when the royal family has gathered for the Christmas holidays.

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Desk Set Review


OK
She's a crack researcher at a publishing firm. He's a computer expert (well, a 1957 computer expert) that's tasked with implementing a system in her department. Together they're Hepburn and Tracy in what would be their second-to-last film together (the final movie being Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 10 years later). Desk Set is quaintly funny and has a few memorable moments -- namely since modern audiences will chuckle over the enormous "electronic brain" installed in the office, a computer that can do more than today's machines are able to do. The typical screwball comedy banter is less fun here than in many contemporaries -- and especially than in many of the duo's prior outings -- but it's ultimately harmless fun with a gossamer message about technology and gender roles.

Little Women (1933) Review


OK
Call me a heathen, but I'm a modern guy with modern sensibilities. And as such, I expect the same sensibilities from my Little Women, which I greatly prefer in its 1994 incarnation.

Sure, Winona Ryder was 23 when she starred as the "little" Jo March, but Katherine Hepburn was 26, and Kate has always looked old for her age. The credibility problem is just one issue I have with the film, which isn't terribly well-acted (Hepburn's phony crying ruins many a scene) or compellingly plotted. It speaks volumes about the quality of films in the early 1930s (when the Depression made sap look good) that Little Women was nominated for Best Picture and won Best Writing at the Academy Awards.

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Review


Good
By now everyone knows who's coming to dinner... it's a 37-year-old Sidney Poitier (and his parents), on the arm of a very white 23-year-old girl (Katherine Houghton) who returns home with him to introduce her to the 'rents. Oh, and they're getting married.

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Katharine Hepburn

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