Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Pat and Mike – Although Dated, Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn Shine

Written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin
Directed by George Cukor

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were an impressive combination on-screen.  Their real-life chemistry was apparent in just about everything they appeared in, without the films becoming the two of them as the same people cast in different situations.

A strong example of this is Pat and Mike.  Hepburn is Pat Pemberton.  Pat is something of an enigma in her time as she is an athletic prodigy at a time when women weren’t really participating in sports, never mind excelling.  Her athletic abilities affect her personal life.  When participating in a round of golf with her current romantic interest, Collier (portrayed by William Ching), she manages to mess up his plans by doing better than those he would like her to lose to.

Spencer Tracy is Mike Conovan.  He’s a sports agent used to promoting prize fighters and the like.  He watched Pat play in a national golf tournament and is quite impressed.  When she comes to him for help, he learns her abilities extend way beyond golf to sports like tennis, skeet, and more.  He takes her under his wing to develop her into a nationally recognized talent.

The problem is that just as Pat is coming into her own, the men who Mike does business with make their presence known.  Their idea seems to be having Pat throw a tournament for their profit.  This goes against everything in Pat’s nature, and she’s having none of it.

The film sounds rather simple and it is, while at the same time tackling a variety of subjects In a way that flows naturally.  Pat must deal with the expectation for women in this day and age by society.  Although one would think Collier would know what he was getting into, he doesn’t accept Pat for who she is and wants to mold her into the good little woman at home who cleans the house, has babies, and boosts her husband’s ego and status.  At times, Pat bristles under the oppressiveness of the men at times while at others she’s more accepting.  Mike’s involvement with organized crime isn’t a shadow hanging over the film, but when it is revealed, it also feels like a natural time for this connection to become evident.  I could almost imagine a crowd in a movie theater taking a collective gasp or thinking “uh oh” at the thought of how Pat will react to the news.

The acting is stellar and I’d have to say there’s not a bad casting decision in the lot.  Tracy and Hepburn really have a chemistry together that’s evident early on, while the two don’t become simpering idiots around each other.  What evolves between them seems to flow, as does Pat’s strength to break away from the life she doesn’t want.

Watch for some people in the cast you might not immediately recognize, but whose names you may or may not know.  Jim Backus, Charles Bronson (billed as Charles Bachinsky), and Chuck Connors appear as well as Carl Switzer – Alfalfa from the Our Gang.  There are also cameos by some sports stars of the time including Babe Didrikson, Don Budge, Helen Dettweiler, and more.

That said, I did have a few issues with the film.  The biggest is the ages.  Age didn’t matter when considering Spencer Tracy as a sports agent, but an up-and-coming athlete is generally pretty young.  Hepburn was 45 at the time this film was made.  Although I could even stretch it to believe that she could possibly be breaking out at the age of 30, she does look entirely too old for the role.

There were some sound issues with the DVD.  I had to have the volume all the way up on my portable player when I can usually have it at half or less.  Even then, I had issues with being able to hear the dialogue clearly.  The picture itself was fine, especially for a black-and-white production.

The Special Features are nothing to crow about.  The Behind the Scenes isn’t a featurette, just words on the screen, and it can be quite difficult to read.

Pat and Mike was a decent film that I enjoyed, despite the many issues that don’t stand the test of time.  Much of the issue of a woman’s place outside the home will be lost on younger audiences, but they could still enjoy the romantic aspect of Pat and Mike finding each other.

Special Features:

• Cast & Crew Biographies
• Behind the Scenes
• Theatrical Teaser Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer