I was surprised to discover how, upon completing this movie, how much I disliked it given how obvious it should have been a personal hit — Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn (I am not the world's biggest Spencer Tracy fan, considering him a sort of Paul Pierce figure [1], but their chemistry alone is a draw), George Cukor behind the camera, mid-century sexual and relationship dynamics, and a svelte runtime.

But I am left with a feeling of something, a cocktail that sits between sour cynicism and a certain disappointment. It is almost entirely ascribable to the gulf between what was on the edge of women's liberalism in 1949 and, well, today — or perhaps to Cukor's unwillingness to commit to either earnestness or slapstick [2]. There were two scenes that struck me as real in a way the star vehicles of this era never really do:

But the rest — the series of testimonies, the whole David Wayne experience, the Vive la difference — it felt a bit too much like caricature.

  1. Solid in every respect, but in almost every single role there's someone who could have done it better. ↩︎

  2. And in that way — a wish for the viewer to simultaneously treat the entire proceedings as silly and as serious — it is a very modern comedy. ↩︎


Mentioned in

Lightning bolt
Subscribe to my newsletter

I publish monthly roundups of everything I've written, plus pictures of my corgi.
© 2024 Justin Duke · All rights reserved · have a nice day.