Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Tracy’


This week I noticed how many musical biographies I have on that little iDevice of mine, each one more educational than the last (history books teach us nothing, you hear me, nothing!). To help create snappy headlines for a catalog that I’m working on for my book publishers, I’ve relied heavily on lines from these musicals and amused myself in the process. To help promote a collection of books that have been translated into English, I stole from Yentl the line “Tell me where, where is it written?” to use as its headline. The wine titles and their purple covers will be promoted with the handle borrowed from Fiddler on the Roof, “To life, to life, l’chaim.” The list of books on climate change could very well end up under the header, “Don’t rain on my parade,” but I should go for subtlety here if I want to keep it up.

Biopics have also entered my watch history in the last few months, as I just wrapped up the brilliant miniseries, John Adams (2008), starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, two people who should be married in real life. It was such a gratifying and addictive series, that naturally I scoured my shelves in search of others from the same genre. Ranking one’s favorite biopics turned into wonderfully frustrating task, as feelings of neglect and betrayal surfaced with each resort. But we gave it a go . . .


15) Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen (2006)

Helen mirren_2

The movie itself, not my favorite, but with every hand gesture and tilt of her head, Helen Mirren unveils the broaches and emotions of Her Majesty The Queen, eventually taking home the Oscar.



14) Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, Mrs. Brown (1997)


“No one should think themselves wiser than me!” Dame Judi Dench is the aunt we all wish we had, am I right? I think her earrings move only in the direction that she commands – wind and gravity are nothing to this woman.



13) Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan, The Miracle Worker (1962)


As Helen Keller’s tutor, Anne Bancroft’s miraculous scenes with Patty Duke include only grunts of frustration instead of dialogue. Astounding, but once was enough.



12) Meryl Streep as Julia Child, Julie and Julia (2009)

Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' JULIE & JULIA.

Julia Child now looks like Meryl Streep to me, and Stanley Tucci is delicious, as always. Sandra Bullock seems like a lovely person, but in 2010 the Academy really should have given more thought to its choice in the Best Actress category.



11) William Powell as Florenz Ziegfeld, The Great Ziegfeld (1936)


It clocks in at just under three hours, but who could have too many helpings of William Powell? During the elaborate numbers of the Ziegfeld Follies, I could be found adding three different biographies on Flo to my wish list.



10) Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan, Boys Town (1938)


In a pinch he can be tougher than you are, and I guess maybe this is the pinch.



9) Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Ike and Tina Turner, What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)


Have you ever wanted to knock the television off its stand just to stop what’s happening in the movie? Taking logical action and switching it off won’t help a thing; the only way for me to save Tina from Ike is to throw that television to the floor with all my might. There were no instructions in the box telling me not to do this.



8) Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)


Love for Mr. Beatty and all, but every shot (ha!) of Faye Dunaway in this film is exquisite and should be framed on my wall.



7) Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, Capote (2005)


At Harper Lee’s party celebrating To Kill a Mockingbird, he sits at the bar and mutters, “I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about.” Ten seconds in a film can be more heartbreaking than all of its seconds combined.



6) Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer, Frances (1982)


Reaching for the moon? No, just one little star . . . on a dressing room door. Once again, the supreme Jessica Lange gives voice to every rejection, deception, and ambition through which her audience itself has suffered. It must have been by one vote when Meryl took Oscar home that year for Sophie’s Choice.



5) Greta Garbo as Christina, Queen of Sweden, Queen Christina (1933)


This list overflows with royalty, but Garbo was the Queen before them all, including Capote. Unconvinced that a queen requires a king for a successful rule, Christina promises that she will die a bachelor.



4) James Cagney as George M. Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)


Sometimes a gangster; sometimes a vaudevillian who can tap-dance down a staircase at the White House. As entertainer George Cohan, James Cagney was living proof that magic exists . . . no one can dance like that without assistance.



3) Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I, Elizabeth (1998)


I was torn between listing this or Blanchett’s Oscar-winning performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004). Her transformation into the Virgin Queen at the end of the film helped tip the scale.



2) Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Milk (2008)


When I first saw Milk, I don’t think I said as much as two words after I left the theatre. When I saw it again, the second time at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, I had the same reaction. Luckily there were bars in every direction, and we sat for hours at Twin Peaks, drinking our drinks and smelling the fresh cookies next door until the words and tears came.



1) Madonna as Eva Perón, Evita (1996)

Madonna in Evita

Never been a lady loved as much as a desperate, misunderstood, driven woman who was hurt and disappointed by life at a young age. After the erotic, bedtime story days of the early 1990s, Madonna revealed more of herself in Evita than she ever showed us during those equally magnificent naked years. You must love her.


Give me that old-time religion.

Without revealing the verdict, here are the basics: Inherit the Wind follows the trial of a man accused of teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to his high school science class. Here we have elements of McCarthyism teaming up with the Scopes Trial of 1925, which called into question a Tennessee man’s violation of the Butler Act (this prevented citizens from denying the Bible’s account of Creation). When it comes to recommending films that address what many consider to be blasphemous subjects, we run into a common problem — those who need to see it undoubtedly will refuse. It is really a shame, because as it turns out, the best (and worst) feature of Inherit the Wind is that it packs a stronger punch with every viewing.

Indulge me for a moment, and allow me to ask what brings out the child in you? Songs, smells, and especially certain foods are overwhelmingly powerful in their suggestive nature. One bite of a chocolate It’s-It, and immediately I’m back at summer camp, praying that the days would last . . . they went so fast! The last time I watched Inherit the Wind, making an appearance was not my happy, carefree child within, but rather the kid who looked up at those around him with the simplistic worldview of which only children are capable. He hasn’t visited me in quite some time, but there he sat, once again comprehending the definition of “hypocrisy” long before he learned how to spell it. To that young boy, the silent conclusion of “Gee, grown-ups are so stupid” was completely reasonable, not to mention applicable to too many adults. When I came in spitting distance of becoming an adult myself, I realized that, with little room for argument, that sassy little boy was right on the money about a few of them.

Five years before Inherit the Wind made its way to the silver screen, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s play debuted on Broadway and has been revived multiple times. And why notaside from being a wonderful script often placed in the hands of our most gifted actors, apparently its point remains lost on many Americans. Now, in this dark abyss of an election season, my child within remains utterly bumfuzzled by a deeply religious political party that fills itself with more and more hatred every day. When I pulled my dusty copy of Inherit the Wind off the shelf, the two of us sat there, that confused child and I, amazed that this absolutely brilliant film has become one of the most frustrating and agitating movie experiences.

“There’s only one man in this town who thinks at all, and he’s in jail.” The man in jail is Dick York, easily recognized as the original Darrin from the television series Bewitched. And the man who has arrived to defend him is the great Spencer Tracy. Ahh Mr. Tracy in a courtroom . . . it’s the next best thing to watching him play opposite Kate the Great. It’s easy to root for both Tracy and his character, Henry Drummond, as he defends not necessarily the validity of Darwin’s theory but the basic right to think and talk about it. On the other side of the table is prosecutor Matthew Brody, a man of God who is beloved by the pious, hateful little town, and played to perfection by Fredric March. Rounding out the cast is a steadfast Gene Kelly, who brings to the role of a liberal reporter the vocal rhythm of — you won’t believe it — a character in a musical. The chemistry between Tracy and March is spellbinding, and I love the fact that on each of their resumes is a film adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Students of literature, theatre, and film could all go to town finding parallels between Jekyll, Hyde, Drummond, and Brody, but one joy of a blog is avoiding any style of writing that starts to read like a term paper. Naturally at this point I can’t resist throwing in one little story.

For months I had been on pins and needles waiting for the Super Bowl. Admittedly I understand not a single thing about football, but this year the NFL decided not to go for second best, baby — Madonna was scheduled to perform the half-time show. For various reasons, the team members and I all had trouble sleeping the night before the game. Later that week when I called Dad to see how his Super Bowl experience was, I got an earful about a woman who was at the party he attended, and how she left the room in a huff before our sacrilegious pop star took center field. Apparently this woman is one of many who not only continue to find Madonna offensive after all these years but also can’t get enough of those athletes who have turned religion into part of their uniform. At one point in the afternoon, after he let a few devout comments slip by, finally Dad turned to her and asked, “I wonder what team is Jesus is for today?” No blood test needed . . . that’s my father!

“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind” (Proverbs 11:29). When he’s not looking around at the nonsensical grown-ups who surround him, my child within is absolutely frightened these days and turns to me for protection. Chilling is the realization that, when viewed in the 21st century, this fiery battle between the opposing sides of Inherit the Wind teeters on the edge of losing its entertainment value. Who could have predicted that a 1925 case challenging the right to think, later fictionalized for the stage in 1955 and then adapted for the screen in 1960, would remain astonishingly relevant in 2012? I guess that’s evolution for you . . .

Add it to your queue.

When Bette Davis sighed this line to her character’s Oscar in The Star (1952), rumor has it Miss Davis was addressing her own Oscar, a well-earned award for Jezebel in 1939.

Time for a small confession: through no fault of my own (okay, and in order to pay the rent), I’m part of the evil machine that helps push e-books out into the world. I know, I’m horrible; don’t even look at me!

Before I moved over to the publishing side of the book industry, I started off working at the Barnes and Noble in Berkeley, where I created displays, organized shelves, and actually spoke to human beings about books that were printed on paper. One of life’s special deliveries arrived via Barnes and Noble in the form of (now) one of my dearest, closet, and funniest friends. The personal interactions unique to the bookstore environment — be it a corporate chain or a snug neighborhood store — brought this wonderful person into my life, as we bonded over shared love of, well, everything. Today, as my current job begins to revolve more and more around e-books, the more I begin wonder . . . would all the laughter and memories and Indian food and quoting Bringing Up Baby with my friend have come about without that shared experience in Barnes and Noble? Now, every time I have to make sure an e-book is included in a data feed to Amazon or link e-book information to its physical book sibling, the more I feel like I was just born into the wrong generation.

On the other hand with which I click the mouse, here I sit sending my writing out into the world due to technological advances of the last decade, so appreciation of the scientific know-how is not beyond me; I can leave the high horse in its stable for now and understand some of the upsides to e-books. But when I sat down to re-watch one of my favorite Hepburn and Tracy movies, I began to understand the fears and frustration towards technology in the workplace on a new level; the footsteps I hear behind me are those of the computer that will eventually replace me, and they’re creeping closer.

Adapted from a play as so many of my favorites are, Desk Set was the first time the world saw the dynamite Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy together in color. Obviously that in itself was a step towards technological advancement, as we’re informed in the beginning with the banner, “Color by De Luxe.” When it comes to Hepburn and Tracy, color versus black-and-white film makes little difference to me; they need no assistance in either direction when it comes to dazzling their audiences. Tracy plays Richard Sumner, an efficiency expert who comes in to inspect a large company’s research department, headed up by Hepburn’s Bunny Watson. Her department is a wonderful set of two floors, filled with bookcases, filing cabinets, and actual, you know, people. The three other women who work under Bunny (including Joan Blondell in that supporting role of which I’m always so fond due to its one-liners) provide callers with trivia-like information, usually off the top of their heads. Should the ladies need to put a caller on hold, they know exactly which bookshelf to scan or which filing cabinet to rake through.

There’s no need for me to affirm once again my love for Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy — there are a million other places in my previous posts where I tip my Fedora to both. I have a special love this one because it drives home a number of good points (perhaps one even more relevant today) about computers versus people in the workforce without necessarily taking a side. Since audiences shared my love of these two actors together onscreen, they are again pulled in both directions with lines such as “I don’t smoke, I only drink champagne when I’m lucky enough to get it, my hair is naturally natural, I live alone, and so do you.” Naturally I’m rooting for her, but I can’t help but love him . . .  (See Adam’s Rib for another fantastic example).

Along with the dazzling Fedora that accompanied Spencer Tracy on every movie set, I must say the other classic items of clothing I noticed throughout Desk Set were the coats and sweaters. One of the few times I didn’t see Edith Head’s name in the opening credits (Charles Le Maire gets credit for this one), this film is decorated with some of the most stunning coats I’ve ever noticed. More often than not, the sweaters and coats were draped around the cast, and it’s always baffling to me how they got those coats to stay on without putting their arms through the sleeves. I guess I’m just lucky; to be so tickled by something as minor as a coat in an old movie is a blessing far greater than those I had to memorize as a kid in Torah school.

So if civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities (good old Mark Twain), I feel caught in a time when I’m simply confused about what is deemed “necessary.” Thankfully I have Hepburn, Tracy, and many more to whom I turn in my times of manageable confusion . . . I’ll understand my generation eventually, but sometimes “Color by De Luxe” is as advanced as I like to get.

Add it to your queue.

One of my guarded writing techniques is that I rarely talk about a work in progress, but luckily for me, a number of my barriers are starting to break down. The few I’ve spoken with about Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner all asked some hue of the same question — has it held up after all these years? Since I was born 13 years after its release, I thought for a moment that I wasn’t exactly qualified to answer, but then I began to find the question pretty flattering. Those who asked are certainly aware of my birth year, and yet somehow my answer still carried with it a shade of authority . . . even if is just an opinion. For making an introverted writer feel fuzzy inside, I dedicate this one to you.

The first obligatory response to whether or not Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner has held up through the years has to be “go judge for yourself.” While that may not be the worst advice, it’s also the easy way out of taking a side and answering the question. I’ve always had trouble taking one side of an argument without seeing valid points of the other — if the grass is greener and we flock eagerly to that other side, then yes indeed, the world still cares about color and uses it as a tool of judgment. I believe that Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a very important movie, and it makes valuable points about the 1960s and beyond, but the subject matter is not what draws me in. If you’ve been kind enough to read some of my other entries (thank you, big hugs!), then you may safely assume that I’d follow a Katharine Hepburn film into the darkest of dangerous caves without any knowledge of its details. I guess I’m just as guilty of judging something by its wrapper, but if the wrapper has her name on it — let alone hers next to Mr. Spencer Tracy’s — I form an opinion immediately, without even opening the case. You see where I’m going with this, perhaps a little bit?

When Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner opens with the song The Glory of Love, I already have a smile on my face. The song reminds me instantly of Beaches (1988) and the unparalleled love I have for one Miss Bette Midler (visit my “About the Author” page for more on this lifelong obsession). In 1967 San Francisco, Joanna Drayton (played by Miss Hepburn’s niece, Katharine Houghton) returns home to her parents, Hepburn and Tracy’s Christina and Matthew, with her new fiancé John, played by a handsome Sidney Poitier. For those who recognize the name but cannot picture a face, Mr. Poitier is black, and every time his character is liberally referred to as “a negro,” I can’t help but wonder if “black” will some day be incorrect, politically speaking. My love of old movies reflects my personality a great deal, so it’s possible that I haven’t kept up with the times . . . if I’m so far out of the politically correct loop already and offending you, dear readers, you’ll let me know, I’m sure. Matthew and Christina’s liberalism does not result in the initial reaction they may have expected — Christina, although politely shocked at the beginning, comes around to the realization we expect rather quickly, while Matthew Drayton is not as easily convinced. Adding fuel to the simmering fire, Joanna invites John’s parents to dinner, who are unaware of Joanna’s lighter skin tone, and a fairly predictable storyline continues. A wonderful added bonus is the unforgettable voice of the family’s maid, played by Isabell Sanford who dropped that second “L” before landing her Emmy-winning role on The Jeffersons via All in the Family.

The predictability of the plot falls by the wayside for me, shadowed almost completely by the final journey Katharine Hepburn takes here with Mr. Spencer Tracy. The film’s sociopolitical messages have been discussed at length by many who know a great deal more than I about sociology, psychology, political science, and all those other subjects that I could never master in the schoolhouse. I could talk about the frequently used phrase “turmoil of the 60s,” about where I think now society is (or is not), and of course an easy route to take would be to draw a line from this film to the election of President Obama. But there was this odd contradiction that rose up in my pen when those thoughts first entered my mind — on one hand, I say there are others who are more qualified than I to address all those topics and more, and that’s true; but on the other hand, it seems like taking those routes while discussing this movie is just too easy . . . from all the voices I say, welcome to my brain!

While far from inconsiderable, the above mentioned topics (that are indeed part of what made the film as powerful as it was) do not even come close to affecting me as much as the moments when Hepburn glances at Tracy, knowing it may be for the last time. Spencer Tracy’s health was very poor in the late 1960s, and the insurance companies refused to cover him before and during the picture. At a very young age I learned that if I wanted to avoid an angry rant at the dinner table, I shouldn’t say the words “insurance companies” in front of Dad . . . but he was right, and here’s one more example of their wicked ways. Katharine Hepburn and director Stanley Kramer put their salaries in escrow as collateral, agreeing not to take a penny so their money could be used to make the film with another actor if necessary. Luckily for us all, Mr. Tracy made it all the way through filming by working half days, giving a performance of which only he was capable. If I were prone to gambling, I’d lay money on the possibility that his final ten-minute monologue was shot in one or two takes. And then on June 10, 1967, just ten days after filming was complete, the great Mr. Spencer Tracy died. He was 67 years old and wore a Fedora better than any other man on the planet.

Hepburn and Tracy sparkle once again, creating a scene simply by looking at one another. Who knows how they defined “love,” or how many definitions they had, or even if they defined it all, but what they shared with a grateful audience are some of the final loving moments between one of Hollywood’s greatest  non-couples. The tears Miss Hepburn fails to hide during Spencer Tracy’s final monologue are some of the most authentic tears ever to saturate the screen, resulting in her second of four Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Mr. Tracy convinces us easily of the strong love that his character feels for his wife, and when he glances over at her, I almost feel like I’m intruding. It’s wonderfully heartbreaking when he assures us all that the “memories are still there — clear, intact, indestructible. And they’ll be there if I live to be 110.”

But the one moment that touches me more than any other in the film does indeed fill me with tears, but those tears result from the belly laugh that has me practically rolling around on the floor. When Matt confides in a friend about his daughter’s situation and the frustration he feels about his wife’s reactions to it, Mr. Tracy does the unthinkable — he does an imitation of Katharine Hepburn. Providing a hypothetical in which his daughter comes home with an undesirable fiancé of a different shade, Matt is positive that his wife would ask “where will we get enough roses to fill the Rose Bowl?” From the hard “R’s” to the soft and gentle landing on the “L” of “bowl,” it was only Mr. Spencer Tracy who could provide such an imitation of Miss Hepburn . . . an imitation filled with annoyance, love, and devotion.

So if you ask me (which some lovely people actually did), of course Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner holds up after all these years — the world has gone too far when it decides that Hepburn and Tracy are no longer in style . . .

Academy Awards for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1968): Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Add it to your queue.

A few months ago I was out at happy hour when someone posed an interesting question — if I had the power to pick my dream job, what would it be? After a bit of negotiating, she allowed me two answers, the first being that I could easily become a travel writer. Circling the world and blissfully writing day and night sounds like heaven to me, as long as I can fit some of my classic DVDs in my bag. Venturing more into the “fantasy” aspect of the question, my second answer was that, if I could, I would be Katharine Hepburn. The love and respect with which I always speak that name had barely escaped my lips when, quite innocently as if she hadn’t heard me, my host replied, “Who?” A bit of this blog was born that evening . . .

A few words about the magnificent Miss Katharine Hepburn, the woman who, to this day, holds the record for number of Academy Awards won by an actor or actress. Of the 12 nominations she received throughout her career, four Oscar statues went to Miss Hepburn. And as with so many remarkable artists of Hollywood’s golden age, my first introduction to Miss Hepburn was at a very young age. If I were ever to write an autobiography, the title would have to be Katharine Hepburn Taught Me How to Give the Finger. Yes indeed, my first exposure to the woman who is the very definition of “classy” and all its synonyms was in her film On Golden Pond (1982), Hepburn’s fourth Oscar win. Imitating Henry Fonda, who plays her husband in the film, she gives the bird to a group of young people in a speed boat, shouting “Buzz off!” as they motor by and scare the loons away. Now I ask you, what six-year-old boy wouldn’t fall into worship with a woman like that? Almost 24 years later, I’m learning that sadly, the answer is very few.

Yearning to expand my collection of women who misbehave (I may have begun the retirement of my witch’s hat at this point), it didn’t take me to long to mimic the 75-year-old Hepburn in the back my mother’s Volvo station wagon. I don’t know if they still make them as they once did, but in the Volvo of the 1980s, the back of the station wagon had a seat that would fold out, easily fitting two children who would then be riding backwards. Perhaps the people behind us were tailgating, maybe I found them unattractive, or it’s possible I didn’t even look at them — regardless, the Hepburn magic I felt dancing around in my middle finger was not to be contained. That car riding at our heels received a proper “Buzz off!” that I felt would have done Miss Hepburn proud. My mother, not so much with the “proud” at the time, but today she’ll smile about it more than anyone else.

Ahhh Tracy and Hepburn . . . once again I find myself tackling a topic about which so much has already been said. Since I could find two conflicting stories of Miss Hepburn’s relationship with the married Mr. Spencer Tracy, I’ll leave you to your own devices (or mine, if you visit the “Some Good Reads” page of my blog). Undeniable is the chemistry on-screen that occurs between these two incredible artists, so perhaps we’re safe in assuming that the offscreen chemistry made its way to the movie soundstage. So convincing are Hepburn and Tracy as a couple onscreen, that the love always feels just as authentic as the bickering.

Adam’s Rib tells the story of a married couple, both lawyers, battling each other in court over a woman who attempted to shoot her cheating husband. Hepburn’s Amanda Bonner defends of her client (played by the hilarious Miss Judy Holliday) by invoking equal treatment for women, claiming if the sexes were reversed in this case, the outcome would be quite different indeed. Adam (Tracy) sticks to his guns as the prosecutor, maintaining that the law is the law, and no person has the right to shoot another, regardless of sex. The case shines certain light on the Bonner’s own marriage, and as the cuddling and kisses turn to bickering, Hepburn and Tracy give us yet another gem, reminding us of how far we think society has come.

I realize I harp on about the cigarettes, drinks, and hats of classic films, but I have to say, no one wore a hat like Spencer Tracy. Cocked to the side just slightly, Tracy’s hat always threatened to fall off (in my eyes, at least), but his commanding presence wouldn’t allow it — that hat wasn’t going anywhere until he said so. In this particular film, Adam Bonner is in less control of the hats he gives his wife. After he surprises Amanda with an “absolute miracle” of hat, she turns around and gives it to her client, attempting to rattle her husband in court. If nothing else, Adam’s Rib taught me not to underestimate the power and importance of a hat in 1949 — she succeeds in rattling him like nobody’s business!

As the courtroom antics spiral further into the ridiculous, the film doesn’t seem to lose its message of inequality between the sexes. Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, who received an Oscar nomination for the film’s screenplay, pulled off one of my favorite techniques — the ever-changing “whose side are you on?” Like watching my parents argue over the proper use of the dishcloth (can one towel be used for both hands and dishes?), I’m constantly switching alliances, as both the defense and prosecution continue to make reasonable points. But since Miss Judy Holliday really captures my heart while cracking me up, I do find myself siding with the lovable defendant. As she rehashes the film’s opening scene in which she shoots at her husband and his mistress, my face starts to hurt from smiling. The events of the shooting are interspersed with details of what she ate, where, and how it was cooked. The priceless scene is filmed as one shot with no cuts (as far as I can tell), giving it a theatrical feel and allowing Miss Holliday to draw my attention away from Miss Hepburn . . . an accomplishment not to be sniffed at!

And dear Mr. Spencer Tracy; his voice is as soothing to me as the slant of his hat. At times a willing punching bag in Adam’s Rib, Mr. Tracy allows himself to be hoisted up in the air by a rather strong circus woman who’s testifying on behalf of the defendant. The cable that is actually holding up Mr. Tracy may as well have its own spotlight and cartoon arrows pointing to it, but those are the little things about old movies that I enjoy — this lack of perfection has a comforting truth to it that I rarely see today. Like Hepburn and Tracy themselves, the movie simply is what it is, without the help of green screens, explosions, or chase scenes. I’ve learned recently there’s little that can annoy my father more than a movie chase scene, and while sometimes I can appreciate a frantic pursuit in a film, I’m back to the dishcloth, agreeing with both sides of the argument.

Duplicating the effect of a “Hepburn and Tracy” combo is impossible, but then again no two couples are exactly alike. No better or worse, but simply different, there is one other couple that makes me smile in that “slump-my-shoulders-up-and-look-at-the-ground” kind of way. I’m grateful to say that documented for all of us to see is a 19-year-old Miss Betty Perske in her first film with a 45-year-old (and married) Mr. Humphrey Bogart. The well-known formula of a tough man and his even tougher woman worked wonders on the black-and-white screen, and the folks of the 1940s were about to see just how well. Miss Perske and Mr. Bogart began a relationship that eventually led not only to marriage but also to one of the greatest onscreen couples I’ve ever seen: Bogie and Bacall. 

Add it to your queue.