(director: Harold S. Bucquet; screenwriters: Donald Ogden Stewart/from the play by Philip Barry; cinematographer: Karl Freund; editor: Frank Sullivan; music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Spencer Tracy (Pat Jamieson), Katharine Hepburn (Jamie Rowan), Lucille Ball (Kitty Trimble), Keenan Wynn (Quentin Ladd), Carl Esmond (Paul Carrell), Patricia Morison (Edwina Collins), Felix Bressart (Professor Grinza), Emily Massey (Anna); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lawrence A. Weingarten; MGM; 1945)
“Fails to convert to the cinema.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Dull theater play by Philip Barry (“The Philadelphia Story”-1939), a play he wrote for Ms. Hepburn, fails to convert to the cinema under Brit raised Harold S. Bucquet’s (“Young Dr. Kildare,”died of cancer soon after the film) lackluster direction. Though for fans of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (their third film together), the stars do their usual effective romantic/comedy sharp dialogue routine in the ‘battle of sexes’ content.
It’s set in Washington, D.C., during World War II when there’s a severe housing shortage because of the influx of people arriving to help in the war effort. One of them is bachelor Chicago scientist-inventor Pat Jamieson (Spencer Tracy), who is to work on a secret project to create a high altitude oxygen helmet for the War Department. While in a cab with his cairn terrier, Dizzy, Pat gives a ride to drunk socialite Quentin Ladd (Keenan Wynn), and ends up staying the night in Quentin’s prudish loner cousin Jamie Rowan’s (Katharine Hepburn) elegant house, that is for sale. The next morning, a sober Quentin is surprised a stranger is there and is confounded that Pat has placed some of his scientific instruments in the basement as he realizes that his guest intends to stay. When Quentin’s overbearing fiancée Edwina Collins (Patricia Morison) arrives, dishing out orders, Pat insults her and is given the boot. Before he can clear out, Jamie arrives and mistakes him for an applicant seeking a job as a caretaker at the house. After being hired as caretaker, the truth is revealed about his occupation and that her late scientist father and his late famous scientist father were old friends. The relationship between the two then warms into a friendly professional one. They soon learn they both share an aversion for love as something romantic since they were both previously hurt in a relationship and have withdrawn from further romantic entanglements.
Kitty Trimble (Lucille Ball), Jamie’s wisecracking real-estate agent and personal secretary, shows the house to a prospective buyer Paul Carrell (Carl Esmond), who just happens to be an old pal of Pat. Paul flirts with Jamie, which stirs up romantic notions in her for Pat. Jamie soon changes her tune about marriage and proposes to Pat. When he accepts, they carry out a Platonic relationship that includes working together on his science project. They continue this marriage without intimacy until the oxygen mask is completed and presented in Chicago by Pat. When Paul senses her marriage is a loveless one, he comes onto her. This only makes her realize she really loves Pat and rushes off to be with him in Chi town. But a few jealous misunderstandings take place and she returns home. She then runs into Pat’s ex-girlfiend Lila and tries to imitate her French style when Pat returns, but he tells her he loves her the way she is and they biblically consummate the marriage off the screen.
REVIEWED ON 5/13/2006 GRADE: C