Movie Mom Discussing Desk Set on Christmas Actually Podcast

Posted on June 13, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Copyright 20th Century Fox 1958

It was such fun to talk about why the Tracy-Hepburn classic “Desk Set” is a classic Christmas movie on the “Christmas Actually” podcast with Collin Souter and Kerry Finegan.

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The New Yorker’s Actress Profiles: Tilda Swinton, Angela Bassett, Katharine Hepburn, and More

Posted on May 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

The New Yorker has created a section with some of its best profiles of actresses, including Angela Bassett, Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton, Tilda Swinton, and Katharine Hepburn. They are a treat to read and will inspire you to check out or revisit some of their classic performances.

Anthony Lane on Julia Roberts in 2001: “The essence of Julia Roberts’s appeal is that she is more lovable than desirable, and that, even when love is off the menu, she cannot not be liked. There is no more flattering illusion in movies: here is a goddess, and she wants to be your friend.”

Claudia Roth Pierpont on Katharine Hepburn in 2003: “With her starved, whippetlike grace and overbearing intensity, Katharine Hepburn appeared slightly mad. But the same characteristics also made her seem a distinctly new type of woman, poised between the nervy and the nervously overwrought.”

Hilton Als on Angela Bassett in 1996: “While she has yet to account for a film’s financial success, her dignified, alert, and earnestly emotive screen presence does generate audience sympathy. And she appeals especially to that segment of the moviegoing public (black women, white housewives, lesbians, and married men) who are not just fetishizing her striking upper-body musculature but are responding to the subtext of her performances—a subtext that includes her struggle to reinvent Hollywood’s view of black women as something other than wisecracking or doleful martyrs, their hair stiff with brilliantine and the funk of subjugation.”

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Tracy and Hepburn: The Definitive Collection

Posted on April 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm

A+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some social drinking and smoking
Violence/ Scariness: Mild
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movies
Date Released to Theaters: 1940's
Date Released to DVD: April 12, 2011
Amazon.com ASIN: B004K4FUT8

Now this is a pure movie magic. There has never been an on- and off-screen romance like the nine-movie pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. When writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz introduced them, Hepburn, who was wearing special heels that added several inches to her slender frame, said, “I’m afraid I’m too tall for you, Mr. Tracy.” Mankiewicz said, “Don’t worry, he’ll soon cut you down to size.” And thus began a movie legend.  She was never as natural and playful on screen with anyone else.  And his love for her just shone from him, always.

Their first movie together was “Woman of the Year.” They work for the same newspaper. He’s a sportswriter and she’s an expert in international affairs who writes an influential political column. They meet when he she says something dismissive about sports on the radio and he writes a column telling her off. He’s called into the publisher’s office and as he walks in, the first thing he sees is her lovely leg as she leans over to adjust her stocking. He offers to take her to a baseball game and she goes, in a preposterous outfit, and completely charms everyone there. I’m not wild about the movie’s last half hour, but it is one of the great pleasures of movie history to watch these brilliant performers fall in love. Their best movie is probably “Adam’s Rib,” the story of married lawyers on opposite sides in a murder case. And their most heart-felt performances are probably in their last film, completed just before Tracy’s death, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” The speech Tracy makes about his love for his wife is clearly straight from his heart. Their weakest film is the all-but-forgotten “Sea of Grass,” understandably omitted from this new collection, which also leaves out “Keeper of the Flame,” a flawed but intriguing film about a reporter who visits the widow of a respected statesman to write about her late husband that raises some powerful issues about how and when certain information should be made public.

I am delighted that seven of their films are now available in the splendid Tracy & Hepburn: the Definitive Collection.  It includes their best-loved and best-remembered films and some that may be new to fans.  “State of the Union” is their only Frank Capra film, a surprisingly timely (if talky) story about an industrialist turned Presidential candidate and his estranged wife.  Real-life actor-turned Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan borrowed one of his best lines on the campaign trail from this film.  I especially love “Pat and Mike,” the story of a sheltered athlete (you can see Hepburn, a superb athlete herself, playing golf and tennis) who meets a street-smart promoter (look for a young Charles Bronson in a small role) and “Desk Set” (she runs the information resources division of a broadcast network and he comes in to install the first computer — it’s about the size of a dozen refrigerators).  And I am very fond of “Without Love,” set in my home town of Washington DC during the World War II housing shortage.  He’s a scientist and she is a young widow.  They impulsively decide to get married “without love” so that they can work together and you can guess the rest.  Lucille Ball in her pre-Lucy days appears as Hepburn’s sophisticated friend who has a way with a wisecrack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=besQOvmq9nw

I have one copy of this treasure to give to a lucky reader.  Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Tracy-Hepburn” in the subject line and tell me which is your favorite of their films and why.  Don’t forget to include your address.  A week from today I will pick one entry at random.  Good luck!

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Star of the Day Month on TCM

Posted on August 1, 2010 at 8:39 am

I love Turner Classic Movies. When I was invited, with a small group of film critics, to meet with Martin Scorsese, I was delighted to hear that he keeps it on a lot of the time and frequently calls out to everyone in his office to stop what they are doing and come watch some special moment. This month, a different star gets the spotlight every day, giving us a chance to enjoy some classics and neglected gems and see some of our favorites in a variety of roles over the course of their careers. Some to look out for:
Aug 2: Julie Christie (“Darling,” “Petulia,” “Shampoo,” “Dr. Zhivago”)
Aug 3: Steve McQueen (“The Great Escape,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Reivers”)
Aug 6: Ingrid Bergman (“Spellbound,” “Notorious,” “Casablanca,” “Gaslight”)
Aug 7: Errol Flynn (“The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “The Sea Hawk,” “Gentleman Jim”)
Aug 10: Kathryn Grayson (“Kiss Me Kate,” “Show Boat”)
Aug 15: Margaret O’Brien (“Meet Me in St. Louis,” “The Secret Garden,” “Little Women,’ “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes”)
Aug 20: Katharine Hepburn (“Woman of the Year,” “Without Love,” “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Summertime”)
Aug 21: Paul Newman (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Harper,” “The Sting,” “Cool Hand Luke”)
Aug 23: Elizabeth Taylor (“National Velvet,” “Father of the Bride,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “The VIPs”)
Aug 25: Lauren Bacall (“To Have and Have Not,” “Designing Woman,” “Key Largo”)
Aug 26: Lee Remick (“A Face in the Crowd,” “The Wheeler Dealers,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “The Days of Wine and Roses”)
Aug 28: Peter O’Toole (“Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Stunt Man,” “My Favorite Year”)
Every single day has something special. And don’t forget The Essentials Jr., the outstanding Sunday night series of family classics. Enjoy!

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