Woman of the Year (1942) is the first pairing of Spencer Tracy and KatharineHepburn. He’s a sportswriter, and she’s a mega-influential political columnist. Though opposites,they fall in love, but the marriage has many kinks to work out, primarily because Hepburn nevertakes enough time out from her career. The gender politics here (as in the other films) might leadto some discomfort today, but the on-screen chemistry is electrifying, and Hepburn’s attempt tocook break…ast for Tracy is one of cinema’s great comic set-pieces.
In Adam’s Rib (1949), the pair are already married. He’s an assistant DA, and she’sa defense attorney, and (naturally) they end up on opposing sides of a case. The film sets upsomething of a straw man in the spurious nature of Hepburn’s feminism, but again, the verveof the leads and the wit of the dialogue more than overcome such reservations.
Pat and Mike (1952) has the two as allies. Tracy is a sports manager who recognizesa prodigy in Hepburn (archery, boxing, tennis, golf, you name it). He takes her under his wingand molds her into a superstar, and she struggles with the insecurity that cripples her performancewhenever disagreeable fiancé William Ching is present. Watch for a young Charles Bronson in asmall bit as a mobster worked over by Hepburn. This is another sparkling, delightful effort.
All the soundtracks are in their original mono. The sound is clean and clear (except foroccasional slight buzz on the dialogue), and there is little to no background hiss or static. Theseare dialogue-heavy films with quite spare sound designs, so stereo remixes would be as pointlessas they would be unwanted.
The transfers are, generally, very good. The black-and-white tones are superb, the image issharp, and there is no visible edge enhancement. Grain too is held to a bare minimum (some isunavoidable for films of this vintage). The titles shimmer and shake a bit on Adam’s Riband Woman of the Year, and the latter is showing its age with a fair bit of speckling.
Each of the discs has nothing more than a theatrical trailer or two. The main extra is an extradisc: the 86-minute documentary The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by KatharineHepburn. This is a 1986 piece that won itself two Emmys. Its inclusion is welcome, but itcould easily have been included on one of the other discs, and maybe left room for one morefeature. There are six other films with these two, after all. The menus are basic.
At only three films, this is one of the slimmer instances of the Signature Collectionrepackages. They are three terrific movies, however, some of the best comedies out there.
Special Features List
- “The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn”
- Theatrical Trailers