(director: George Cukor; screenwriters: Ruth Gordon/Garson Kanin; cinematographer: William H. Daniels; editor: George Boemler; music: David Raksin; cast: Spencer Tracy (Mike Conovan), Katharine Hepburn (Pat Pemberton), Aldo Ray (David Hucko), William Ching (Collier Weld), Sammy White (Barney Grau), George Mathews (Spec Cauley); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lawrence Weingarten; MGM; 1952)
“Slight sports comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

George Cukor (“Keeper of the Flame”/”Adam’s Rib”/”The Philadelphia Story”) directs this slight sports comedy with the familiar good chemistry team of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy playing the sparring romantics who are at first a mismatch but gradually grow fond of each other. It’s written by the husband and wife team of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin. There are real-life golf and tennis champs making cameos such as Gussie Moran, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Don Budge, Alice Marble, Frank Parker, Betty Hicks, Helen Dettweiler and Beverly Hanson. It never develops into much of a story and is far less smart than most of the other nine films pairing Hepburn and Tracy.

Unscrupulous blue collar New York sports agent Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy), out to make a fast buck, manages to maneuver spunky upper-class femme tennis and golf champion Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn), a widow who is the women’s athletic coach at Pacific Technical College, to join his team. The only flaw in her game is that she always gets rattled whenever her handsome but pompous fiancĂ©, college administrator Collier Weld (William Ching), is watching. Mike offers to become her agent, suggesting that it would be better financially if she lost the tournament, where she’s competing against Babe Didrikson Zaharias, and gradually built up her reputation. She loses not because of any dishonesty but because she gazes at Collier while trying to make a key putt and he makes her so nervous she misses a chippy. Finally realizing this bad effect, she dumps her stuffy fiancĂ© and teams with the faster and better vibed New Yorker.

One of Mike’s athletes under contract is the dim-witted boxer David Hucko (Aldo Ray), and there’s plenty of cutesy comical interaction for Pat with him, some mobsters and with Mike.

It’s genial and likable, in the Damon Runyon mold, but it doesn’t score a hole in one. At its best, it shows that athletes think with their body.

Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Aldo Ray in Pat and Mike (1952)