Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Pat and Mike (1952) Warner Archives Blu Ray Review
Directed By: George Cukor
Starring: Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Aldo Ray, William Ching
Along with Without Love (1945), Warner Archives is also re-releasing Pat and Mike (1952). Pat is a gifted golfer, boxer and tennis player. But, she doesn't play very well when her fiance David (Aldo Ray) is watching. Her some-what shady manager Mike (Spencer Tracy) notes this and tries to keep the two apart. Meanwhile he starts to develop his own feelings for Pat. Now the scheming Mike tries to go legit after a career built on fixing fights. But, the underworld wont let him get away from things that easily.
Unlike Without Love (1945), the plot doesn't have to work as hard for its set-up. What we are left with is a lean paced charming film. I think this film benefits greatly from George Cukor's magical touch in direction. Someone like Cukor knew how to handle his mega-stars and its this attention to detail and focus that makes this work. Yes, the set up is kind of absurd but Cukor along with screenwriter (and Oscar winning actor) Ruth Gordon (Rosemary's Baby) and Garson Kanin gives it creditably. I think Gordon added a much needed female perspective to the film and it is better for it. The duo of Kanin and Gordon would also write Adam's Rib (1949), which is considered one of the best that Hepburn and Tracy did together. Sadly, Pat and Mike for all its charm and the razzle-dazzle of its leads is a bit by the numbers. It waded through needless sub-plot instead of being a focused well constructed piece. The mob sub-plot never seems like its handled or realized as much as it could have. Overall, this film is a mixed bag. There is no denying that Hepburn and Tracy apart were amazing actors but, when put together, they were TNT. So, by default I'm always going to love watching this pair act together. And while I think this is better than Without Love, I still feel it suffers from a screenplay that is good but not as tidy as it could have been. Cukor and his skill at a director I think saves the film from being a mess. The film sports a great supporting cast including a young Charles Bronson in a comedic role as a heavy and Chuck Corners.
While its a mixed bag...Pat and Mike works thanks to the skill of George Cukor and its leads Hepburn and Tracy.
The Warner Archive print as always looks great. The transfer is clean and striking. You really get a great sense of Cukor's attention to detail along with the cinematography by William H. Daniels (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Naked City). The sound is also well done and dialogue and the score comes through nicely. No features are included on this disc.