Pat and Mike (1952)

“I don’t think you’ve ever been properly handled.”

Pat and Mike Poster

Synopsis:
A shady sports promoter (Spencer Tracy) offers to help manage the professional career of a gifted female athlete (Katharine Hepburn) who finds herself strangely flummoxed whenever her professor-fiance (William Ching) watches her compete.

Genres:

Review:
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s seventh joint film was this jaunty romantic comedy situated within the cinematically unique world of women’s sports. The film’s unusual setting serves as its calling card, as we’re provided with a refreshingly ethnographic look at this milieu, with a handful of real-life female athletic stars (such as Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Alice Marble) appearing onscreen in “competition” with Hepburn. Hepburn was a gifted athlete in her own right, and is 100% believable in her role here; indeed, screenwriters Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon — friends of Hepburn and Tracy — wrote the script with her talents in mind. Meanwhile, her rapport with Tracy (having fun playing a somewhat morally dubious character) is as predictably solid as always, and William Ching is fine in a humorous role as her jinxing beau. The storyline itself, while slight, is drolly witty, and nicely handled by director George Cukor; I’m especially fond of scenes involving Tracy’s hoodish “colleagues”, who are disappointed by his decision to go straight with Hepburn — watch how Hepburn defends “her man” against them…

Note: Hepburn reportedly named this as her favorite film made with Tracy.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Katharine Hepburn as Pat
    Pat and Mike Hepburn
  • Spencer Tracy as Mike
    Pat and Mike Tracy
  • A fascinating glimpse at ’50s “women’s” sports
    Pat and Mike Golf
    Pat and Mike Tennis
  • Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon’s Oscar-nominated script
    Pat and Mike Script

Must See?
Yes, as a most enjoyable Tracy/Hepburn flick.

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One Response to “Pat and Mike (1952)”

  1. A once-must…though not at all bad on an eventual re-visit.

    My favorite of the Tracy/Hepburn flicks. I’m fond of both these actors when I see them individually in a number of other films – but I can’t say the films they’re paired in are ones I think about returning to. There must be something about them that generally leaves me feeling once (or possibly twice) was enough. Not that they’re mediocre films – for the most part – it’s more like “what you see is what you get” and additional viewings aren’t likely to hold much by way of surprise. Meaning, I guess, that they’re light stuff. (Though I will again be revisiting a few of them soon; this is just my thought as I look back on them in my memory.)

    ‘Pat and Mike’ is oh-so-light as well. but the difference here is that T & H are both somewhat playing against type, if ever-so-slightly. There’s a kind of lack of the sophistication that seems to permeate most of their work together – and, at least for me, they’re brought down to more of a ‘plain folks’ level here. Therefore (also for me), it’s more satisfying seeing how the love angle develops between them. In this movie, I sense a feeling in myself that I *want* to watch them fall in love.

    I will admit that – unless you are a real golf enthusiast – the first 30 minutes can seem rather slow; there’s barely much dialogue – and that’s a risky way of allowing a story to unravel. As well, some of the specifics of Hepburn’s character’s career seem a little unlikely – but, then, this is a comedy and one needn’t fuss about that. I’m also not that crazy about Aldo Ray’s dumb fighter routine; Ray became a better actor in subsequent films (he just doesn’t really have much to work with here).

    Quite surprising to notice Charles Bronson and Chuck Connors in early career turns – giving interesting character sketches quite different from their eventual trademark roles.

    This is a film that doesn’t need a music score to enhance it much – but the one it has seems inferior and bothersome to me.

    Overall, though, ‘P&M’ sails along nicely thanks to Kanin and Gordon’s generally zippy script, Cukor’s (thank God) un-fussy direction, and T & H having what appears to be a perfectly wonderful time together.

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