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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My 10 Favorite Kate Hepburn Movies

Before I begin this post: guys, I forgot something REALLY IMPORTANT in my last post. I've been accepted into the Classic Movie Blog Association! Initiation is based on voting by other members, so thank you to any CMBA members that might have voted for me. :) I was really excited to get in - I've been awaiting membership since I got this blog last July! So I was really rather happy and I didn't mean to excuse it so rudely, it just totally slipped me somehow. Thanks again, guys!

It's not really Katharine Hepburn's birthday or anything, but I was just thinking about how so many of her films are my favorites. Not to mention I've seen a lot of her filmography, so I thought it would be fun to make a list like this! Of course, I haven't seen everything of Katharine Hepburn's, and there are still a few really prominent films of hers that I need to see: like On Golden Pond (1982), The Lion in the Winter (1968) and Morning Glory (1937). So this is just a list from my opinion on what I've already seen - a lot of her films albeit not ALL.


10. Little Women (1933)

The book "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott is one of my favorite books and I've seen all the onscreen adaptions. Though I like the other two versions well enough, this is easily my favorite, mostly because of Kate. She makes the perfect Jo. When I read the book as a little girl, I was set on being a tomboy, and therefore Jo became my favorite character. Besides, she liked to write, like me. :) Today I'm far from a tomboy - as you might be able to tell from all the pink and polka dots on this blog - but I think Jo might still be my favorite character. Kate gave her justice better than any actress who ever played her, because to be honest, I think Katharine Hepburn and Jo March are very much alike: strong willed, feminist, tomboyish, etc. This also contains nice supporting cast members like Joan Bennett and is directed by George Cukor, Kate's favorite director.

9. Summertime (1955)

I'm not going to get into this one that much for two reasons. #1: Not many other people like this film so oftentimes I feel kind of stupid when I rave on about it, though I just fell in love with it last week. And #2: I just did this week's Sunday Movie Review about it, you can read all the things I like about this film here. A lot of it has to do with a really delicate performance by Kate that is unlike anything she did before, her romance with Rossano Brazzi, and the beautiful setting of Venice, Italy. Anyway, this movie is kind of the dark horse of this list since no one likes it. I guess everyone's entitled to an opinion, though, and I liked it a lot.

8. Alice Adams (1935)

It's been a few years since I saw this one, so I can't get into intense detail about why I liked it, but I do remember enjoying it! :) In the review I'd written at the time I basically said that this film was really charming, refreshing, and I liked the realistic way it dealt with domestic issues. And though Alice Adams wasn't always a completely likable character, I really loved the way Kate played her. Also, how can you turn down a film which has a cast that includes the likes of Fred MacMurray, Hattie McDaniel, and Hedda Hopper - in addition to Kate. 

7. Stage Door (1937)

I just love this film for so many reasons. I love the characters and I love the plot, and most of all I love the cast. It's very rare to find your favorite actresses in a movie together, because usually a leading actor plays with a leading lady - so, unless your favorite actress is a character actress... But for me this film is one of those rarities. Kate and Lucy. KATE AND LUCY. Oh my gosh. <3 And then of course you have the others like Ginger Rogers and Ann Miller (who I can't believe was only 13!) - but back to Kate and Lucy. Oh, how I would love to go on and on and about some of the backstage stories about the two of them but I properly ought to return to the movie. ;) It's a wonderful film and one of my favorites that I don't talk about all that much. It's fun to see actors, playing, well actors - or better yet, well established actresses playing hopefuls trying to break into the business. "The calla lillies are in bloom again!" And it's funny, because in the Italian movie episode of I Love Lucy - the one in where she famously stomps grapes - she dramatically declares the same line that was such a big deal to Kate Hepburn in this movie.

6. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

I think a movie like this would be a big deal in 1967. Though Sidney Poitier was already helping break the barrier of miscegenation, this film prominently displayed a happy interracial couple, not to mention that Poitier's character was a very successful doctor. That being said I think it's really commendable for both Kate and Spence to take on a project like this in such a tumultuous time as the 1960's. This was their final film together and Kate never watched it, she never could - because Spence died before the film was even released. I believe she had to take some kind of a salary cut to convince the producers to cast him in this, as they weren't even sure he would make it through the filming. But if there was one way to cap off their string of eight films (this being the ninth), this was definitely it. And aside from the plot and what it dared to do, since this is the last Hepburn/Tracy film it's certainly sentimental for the viewer. Watch Kate's eyes during Spencer Tracy's big speech about equality at the end of the film. I think it was more than an acting - I think she knew the end of this great partnership was about to come to a close. 

5. The African Queen (1951)

Kate and Bogie were really good friends in real life. In Bogie's last weeks as he began to succumb to his cancer, Kate and Spence would visit nearly every night, which I think is terribly sweet. It's wonderful to know that these two legendary actors (if you go by the AFI's list of 100 stars, Kate's #1 for women and Bogie for men) were good friends in real life. Though it's a bit peculiar seeing them as lovers in this, their friendship really shines through in a film like this. The characters are a lot of fun to watch, and seeing this is the film that finally got Bogie that long deserved Oscar, it's quite easy to like this movie. Plus, there's a great treasure of memories that are behind the filming of this movie, which Kate wrote about in her book, How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost my Mind. I haven't read it - not yet - but I'm sure it must be a fun read. I like that they were all friends, Kate and Bogie and Bacall and Huston.

4. Woman of the Year (1942)

It's really hard for me to pick a favorite Hepburn/Tracy pairing, but if you boiled down to it, it's either this or Adam's Rib (1949). I love the characters that Kate and Spence play in this. Tess Harding is a symbol of femininity in an era where woman were expected to stay at home and do the cleaning and the cooking. People take her seriously, and she is important, whereas the character Spence plays is simply a sports reporter. Despite the fact that he's a man, Kate's character is of more importance. But to counter this, or make it more equal, Spence's character is oftentimes a lot easier to like. Another thing that balances out this movie really well is the ending, which, instead of asking Tess Harding to become the average housewife like you may expect it to, offers a compromise that the viewer can be satisfied with. This was the first Hepburn/Tracy pairing, the film that they fell in love on the set of, and I think you can really see that on film. I think out of all the couples they played, Tess Harding and Sam Craig are the most romantic, perhaps because it's their attraction to one another that becomes the glue in keeping the two of them together.

3. Adam's Rib (1949)

As I said in the last one, it's hard to pick a favorite Hepburn/Tracy but this film and Woman of the Year (1942) are the strongest contenders. Once more Kate is playing a very successful woman, though this time Spence is right on her par. They are husband and wife lawyers, Amanda and Adam Bonner. This film is one I can watch over and over again because it's so riveting each time around. Though Amanda Bonner definitely twists the jury in her favor in such a way that might not realistically work, she easily has you taking her side. She's persuasive, to say the least. :) Also this has Judy Holiday playing the woman in the hot seat and I just love her in it each time I watch this movie. 

2. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

This film was the turning point in Kate's career. Before this, you know, she was actually box office poison, or at least, that's what the critics said. Which is pretty awful because she made some of the best films of her career before 1940 and won that Oscar for Morning Glory (1937). But anyway, if there was a film to turn around her career this was definitely a good one to do it. Tracy Lord is simply fabulous, perhaps a little crazy to have divorced C. Dexter Haven (or AKA, Cary Grant), but I love her anyway. Needless to say Kate is perfect as her. AND THEN THERE IS CARY GRANT AND JIMMY STEWART. So back in #7, I said how it's hard to find your favorite actresses together in a film and the same goes for actors, but this movie does just that. My number one favorite actor and my number two favorite actor together, it's enough to make a girl weep, it really is. :) Did you hear the story? Which story? The Philadelphia Story. Oh, and Cary pushes Kate down. I love this movie. 

1. Bringing up Baby (1938)

I said this list was in no particular order... but I really mean it when I list this movie as number one. It's one of my all time favorite movies, ever. :) To begin with, I'm sentimentally attached to it because it's, as I mentioned before, one of the first classics I ever watched. I loved it so much I watched it over and over, I had it rented out for a month I think, I was so in love with this movie. I find Kate Hepburn positively adorable in this and I think I might want to be Susan Vance when I grow up. :') And then well, Kate and Cary Grant, I mean I don't really need to go there because if you've seen anything, just anything with the two of them, you know how wonderful they are. And then there's the leopard, Baby - I'm actually tearing up a little bit, I JUST LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH! It's definitely my number one screwball comedy! Oh my gosh, so many wonderful lines, too! Like, "Susan, he's eating your car!" And so many favorite scenes! Like when Kate tricks Cary into coming over by pretending to be "attacked" by her leopard, or even the part when she's trying to catch olives in her mouth. Gahhh, this film is so perfect. :3 I can't believe it wasn't well liked in 1938. I'll leave you with I can't give you anything but love, baby.... Oh my goodness I could go on about this movie for FOREVER, for forever I tell you!

So, there you have it, my ten favorite Katharine Hepburn movies. Which of her movies are your favorites???

Again, thank you to all who may have voted me into the CMBA! I can't believe it'd slipped me earlier because I appreciate it so much. I guess my brain was just boggled with all the crazy homework I've had lately, forgive me! :) 

Oh by the way! So every year at school we do this big fundraiser where we put on cultural performances, except this year my class is doing America in the 1940's instead of a country - I know, I was absolutely thrilled! Therefore, we're learning the jitterbug - and it's SO much fun! I pretty much have two left feet but even I'm doing pretty good with this dance, which to me is just further proof that I was totally born in the wrong era. I keep wishing on 11:11 and blowing away eyelashes, but no matter what I do I'm still firmly stuck in 2012. ;) 

P.S: I'm really pleased with the way the Oscar nominations turned out, are you? I noticed a lot of people didn't like it, but then again, I really do not keep up with new movies, I was just pleased so many of the nominations were performances or movies that took place in the 20th century. 


Bette said...

I completely adore Kate Hepburn. She's definitely my role model and her autobiography was unicorns and rainbows. Have you read it? If not the definitely do. I got a great condition used copy of the hardcover version (now out of print but it has a considerable amount more pictures than the paperback apparently) for something like £2 on amazon. I realized the other day that I've seen more of her than any other actress! I've seen and love all the films on your list and you should definitely watch The Lion In Winter and Morning Glory - they're amazing. I have On Golden Pond but haven't seen it yet. My top ten would have to be

1. The Philadelphia Story
2. The African Queen
3. Bringing Up Baby
4. Holiday
5. The Lion In Winter
6. Woman Of The Year
7. Adam's Rib
8. Little Women
9. Pat and Mike
10. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

P.S. Sorry for the epicly long comment :-D

FlickChick said...

Congratulations on being accepted into the CMBA! I look forward to reading your marvelous posts and hope you'll swing by and "hi" to me from time to time!

KimWilson said...

I'm glad you are in the CMBA--now I get to read your cute articles. As for your (so far) Top 10 list of Hepburn's work, I like 1-6, but 7-10 are not favorites of mine. You, however, do explain why you like them. The supporting casts in most of those were good, so you do have a point there.

Rianna said...

I LOVE Kate, and I think she should be credited for my classic film obsession, she's been a favorite of mine from the start. :) I have her autobiography, though I haven't read more than the first few chapters yet. It's the paperback version though. I can't wait to finish it. There's stuff about her doing handstands and she was like in her eighties and a letter to Spencer Tracy and I think it's going to be absolutely hilarious and fun! I plan to watch The Lion in the Winter and Morning Glory soon, and especially On Golden Pond. When I was like ten or eleven I think I watched the first few minutes of it, but I guess seeing Kate and Henry so old made me nervous and I didn't finish it. Now I really want to see it especially since I love Jane Fonda, too.

I've seen and love everything on your list, except #5 of course. And don't worry, I love long comments, I apologize for this epicly long reply. :D

Rianna said...

Thanks so much!!! I'm already following and just love your blog. I get lazy about commenting sometimes, but your blog is one of my favorites :)

Rianna said...

Thanks, I'm happy you like it. I'm glad we agree on most of the list anyway, Kate Hepburn made really wonderful films!

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