Woman of the Year (1942) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
76 Reviews
Sort by:
"Don't Worry, I'll Cut You Down to Size."
bkoganbing27 October 2005
Legend has it that Spencer Tracy said he would cut Katharine Hepburn down to size when upon meeting her in heels for the first time on the set of Woman of the Year.

I think that's what the authors of the screenplay Michael Kanin and Ring Lardner, Jr., had in mind in the script as well. As mismatched a pair if there ever were, he a down to earth sports columnist and she a world famous news reporter and commentator, fall in love.

As her celebrity is much wider known than his, Hepburn expects to have it all her own way. The rest of the film is concerned with their efforts to adjust to each other.

Katharine Hepburn's character is based on liberal radio commentator and reporter Dorothy Thompson. Not surprising that no one has mentioned that yet in all the reviews so far. The giveaway is Tracy first hearing her voice on the radio while in his favorite sports bar on Information Please where Thompson was a guest. Her career petered out after World War II, so she's not known to today's audience.

Writers Kanin and Lardner had as a model for the Tracy character Lardner's own father. Ring Lardner was one the celebrated sports writers of the first half of the 20th century, a great reporter and humorist. While Tracy is not as witty as Ring Lardner, he is definitely as down to earth.

My favorite scene is Spencer Tracy trying to feel comfortable at an international gathering at her place, looking even for people who speak English. Of course she's equally as uncomfortable at William Bendix's bar where Tracy likes to hang out.

Hepburn, comfortable in her celebrity, just sails through life, getting awards here and there. When she thinks of a Greek orphan kid she gets pressured into taking in as another award, that's when Tracy puts his foot down.

Based on some real celebrities, Tracy and Hepburn become those celebrities in the flesh. It's an awesome debut for what turned out to be a great screen team.

Look for fine performances by William Bendix, Fay Bainter, Minor Watson and Dan Tobin. Kanin and Lardner copped the film's only Oscar for an original screenplay. Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver.

If Woman of the Year were remade today, the producers might consider making the woman the sports reporter. Seeing Jeannie Zelasko covering the World Series this year, I'm sure it would work very well.
25 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
inframan14 May 2005
Right off I have to say that this is at once the funniest, most romantic, most intelligent & most realistic depiction of a romantic relationship I have ever seen.(For perspective, I'm a 60 year-old multi-lingual film buff).

Whatever kind of film George Stevens tried, he did it to perfection. Witness Gunga Din, Swingtime & A Place in the Sun to mention just a few. It was like watching something by Hawks, Lubitch & Sturges all rolled into one.

Hepburn never appeared softer, more vulnerable, less mannered than in Woman of the Year. I fall in love with her all over again every time I watch it, which is surprisingly often, especially in the scene where she carries on about Oswald Spengler while plastered under the table.

Then there's Tracy, the most honest actor who ever lived. But not just that: there was his ability to delve seemingly without effort into an infinite bag of gestures & expressions & tones & just plain old-fashioned but highly manifest wisdom & come up with the most richly nuanced guy ever depicted on-screen. Tracy was a giant, a genius, the Rembrandt of film.

A delightful, dazzlingly perfect grown-up movie.
33 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The sexual politics of role reversal...
gaityr2 June 2002
WOMAN OF THE YEAR stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their first film together, his Sam Craig matched with her Tess Harding; his subtle, underplaying acting style with her stylised, personality-driven performance. It's an acting tour de force, to be sure--the two of them make the best of (and often far surpass) a somewhat limited script and interesting but stiffly played-out plot. In fact, their chemistry in this film is palpable. When someone speaks of cinematic magic, of chemistry sparking off (if not engulfing) the screen, *this*--Tracy, Hepburn, Tracy and Hepburn--is what they are talking about, even back in the days of the Hays Code. It's all mostly chaste kisses and long eye contact, often carried out in semi-darkness, and yet the two main players establish a relationship more sexual and believable than so many of the relationships portrayed in films these days. (Take the tiny moment in the cab--not the drunk scene that everyone loves, but that moment when he says, "I've got to get something off my chest", and she mumbles, "I'm too heavy", and raises her head. When he gently pulls it back to where you feel it would always belong, you know that these actors are doing something incredible.)

This isn't to say that the film is without flaws. Far from it. The writing is clipped and most of the words on their own have little spark. (It takes Spencer Tracy's glowering eyes, or Katharine Hepburn's radiant smile, to add life to those words.) Even the relationship between Sam and Tess isn't set up in the most fluid of ways, leap-frogging from moment to moment, from scene to scene, without quite making the necessary connections--if you believe in Sam and Tess together (and I do), it's only because you can truly believe in Tracy and Hepburn together. The film occasionally feels like a play cobbled together from various scenes, until it hits its stride midway through the film (after Sam and Tess get married).

Script aside, the plot is interesting, and certainly quite radical for its time. However, the ending (a hilarious set-piece of comedy though it might be) leaves things largely unresolved. We have a wonderful, strong female character in Tess Harding--this is clear enough in the first half of the film. But her strength, her forceful personality and go-getting attitude, become her weakness in the second half, so much so that she becomes almost a caricature of the original Tess Harding. Some of the things she does (her 'humanitarian' wholesale adoption of Chris, for example; her rudeness and blithe ignorance of Sam's worth) are truly reprehensible, and the point the writers are making is clear--a female who tries too hard to be a male loses her feminity, and cannot ever really be fulfilled. In this sense, the gender politics, as other commenters have pointed out, is 'deplorable'.

And yet there is a grain of truth in it; if one *can* be brought to believe that Tess could really treat Chris and Sam in the way she does, one can't help but applaud Sam's decision to leave. The role reversal is almost complete--Sam himself comments on the fact that she 'makes love' to him to smooth over their quarrels. She charges on her own merry way without asking him about his life, his opinion, or anything that remotely matters to him. Their union was neither perfect, nor a marriage, as he justifiably charges.

The uneasy tension between the admirable and the deplorable Tess Hardings comes at the end: you most certainly get the impression that the film itself didn't quite know whether or not to affirm the Tess character. In fact, by all accounts (even Hepburn's own), the film originally ended with an unqualified affirmation of Tess's character--promising to be more involved in her husband's life, Tess is depicted at a baseball game, cheering alongside Sam, getting louder and louder and rising higher in her seat above him. It was both an affirmation of Tess the character, and a lingering question mark about the Harding-Craig reunion.

Test audiences didn't like it. (Apparently, it was the *women* who felt threatened by the character Hepburn portrayed on screen. She was too strong, too beautiful, too *everything* all at once.)

What transpired in the end, then, was a re-shot ending that muddied the moral of the film in suggesting that women could not really be fulfilled without their men. Sam wants her to be Tess Harding Craig; she wants to be Mrs. Craig; she wants to change; he thinks (and probably knows) she can't. The logical ending would have seen Tess, cast as she had been in the traditional masculine role, wooing Sam back, only to cast doubt over whether her atypical (for the time) strength as a female would unequivocally threaten the typical male figure as embodied in Tracy's character. The original ending would have better borne out the logic of the film--a valuable DVD extra if ever there was one. You can perhaps applaud the spirit of the film, without accepting the fact that it seems to let that spirit fade away in the end.

So what is there of worth in WOMAN OF THE YEAR, with its original ending gone, and its revolutionary potential muted by a slapstick scene in a kitchen with exploding waffles, too much coffee, and a woman who just can't seem to figure out how to separate eggs? Well, the answer is simple, and it's already been given. This is a movie to watch, and to watch *again*, because it is the first cinematic pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. For a couple of hours, you're allowed to watch these two great, mythical actors playing two people in love... while falling in love themselves. That is most certainly a rare privilege, if ever there was one.
27 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Memorable First Tracy-Hepburn Teaming!
Ben Burgraff (cariart)5 September 2003
Aside from the historical value of first teaming Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn (she had wanted Tracy in the previous year's THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, but scheduling conflicts had prevented it), WOMAN OF THE YEAR holds its own as a bright, smart 'Odd Couple' romantic comedy/drama, with witty dialog, a rich, textured performance by the reliable Tracy, and Hepburn showing a sexiness that she rarely gets to project on film.

The scenario is simple; Beautiful, brilliant Claire Booth Luce-type journalist(Hepburn) and practical, salt-of-the-earth sportswriter (Tracy) clash over whether athletic events should be suspended for the duration of the war (she finds them too frivolous in such serious times, he believes them essential for morale). After she makes some insensitive comments on the radio, he criticizes her in his sports column. Despite the paper-selling feud that results, their editor brings them together to make peace...and the pair, seeing one another in person for the first time, fall in love! Despite their busy schedules, he takes her to a ball game (which she loves) and she introduces him to her international friends (which he doesn't). Nonetheless, they marry, but he quickly discovers she is so busy 'saving the world' that she can't make time for him...and then she 'adopts' a war orphan, without consulting him, or considering how little time for 'motherhood' she's willing to give. He realizes a drastic step must be taken, as she is clueless about what being a 'wife' and 'mother' means...

While the domesticity scene concluding the film seems out of place (the story goes that MGM added it to make Tracy the 'winner' of the 'battle of the sexes', to a much more chauvinistic 40s audience), so many scenes ring true that the film goes beyond simple comedy/drama to a timeless statement about commitment, priorities, and accountability for one's actions. And despite the serious issues raised, it makes you laugh, too! Hepburn's reactions at the ball game, and Tracy, trying to be inconspicuous at the women's club meeting, are among the comic highlights. The star duo are so natural together that it's hard to believe this was their first teaming, and the chemistry carried over into their private lives as well, beginning a romance that lasted 25 years.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR is, deservedly, a classic!
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
classy, classic comedy
lolly-76 June 1999
this film sparkles like champagne. Okay the plot is flimsy, not to mention corny, but the magnetism and chemistry that goes on between Tracy and Hepburn is enough to keep you enthralled for hours. The dialogue is witty and snappy, and there are many hilarious moments not to be missed. It's lovely to see such an old fashioned fun movie that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. The most wonderful moment in the film has got to be when they kiss for the first time, it's wonderful, and you can feel the warmth between them.
13 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Seminal Tracy-Hepburn Vehicle Teeters Precariously Between Comedy and Melodrama
Ed Uyeshima30 October 2006
Katharine Hepburn already established the headstrong aspect of her screen persona in 1938's "Holiday" and 1940's "The Philadelphia Story", but she adds a worldly intellect and a beguiling sexual ardor that prove most fetching in her portrayal of multilingual political journalist Tess Harding in this 1942 film classic. In her first teaming with lifelong off-screen partner Spencer Tracy, she sets off palpable sparks with the normally taciturn actor, who plays sportswriter Sam Craig working at the same newspaper. Written by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin, the plot is about the characters' whirlwind courtship from an immediate sexual attraction to an impulsive marriage, all the while struggling with each other's priorities. Needless to say, given that it's a product of its era, it becomes a matter of time before Tess bends to Sam's will but not until some intriguing observations are made about sex roles in a basically fractious relationship.

However, rather than the comic fireworks generated by their later collaboration, 1949's "Adam's Rib", this film treads in unexpectedly sentimental melodrama, especially in the episodes where Tess has to let go of a Greek orphan she wants to adopt and in the climactic scene when she tearfully recognizes her wifely responsibilities as her aunt Ellen marries her father. Still, the pair's familiar bantering occurs when Sam explains the rules of baseball to Tess and in the final feminist reversal as she fails miserably in her attempt at domesticity. George Stevens directed the film, and he displays his sure hand with actors and an acute sense of craftsmanship throughout. Intriguingly, for a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle, it feels much more like her movie than his, and consequently their rapport is not quite up to their normal standard here. The supporting characters also feel more incidental here, even though Fay Bainter shines briefly as Ellen. It's not my favorite of their films together, but it is certainly required viewing for their fans. There are no extras with the 2000 DVD.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Undated sexual politics
Gary Imhoff26 July 2003
Most commentators on this movie miss the its point completely, and criticize what they misunderstand as the outdated sexual politics of the 1940's from the standpoint of the outdated sexual politics of the 1970's. Blinded by political correctness, they miss the many virtues of the sparkling script.

The point of the script is actually relatively modest. It is not, in fact it is far from, The Taming of the Shrew, or the subjugation of the independent woman. Tracy's character admires Hepburn's character's independence and competence, and he doesn't want her to renounce them to become the "little woman" -- that is the burden of his "kitchen speech" at the end. He simply understands better than she does, at least until the end of the film, that maintaining a relationship and a marriage requires time, work, and attention. That may well be an unwelcome message, but it is not an unwise one.

The comedy of the film comes from their characters' different worlds -- Tracy is a sportswriter and Hepburn an international politics columnist. The drama comes from their different levels of commitment to being a couple. The script delicately and for the most part successfully (with the possible exception of the Greek orphan subplot), balances these two conflicts and the comedy and drama.
16 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Real fun.
Polaris_DiB30 December 2005
A lot of reviews on romantic comedies and the like talk about this thing called "chemistry" between actors, when it seems the two actors are capable of really presenting true, real life emotions between them. When it comes to the Spenser Tracy/Katherine Hepburn pairing, the word "chemistry" is used quite often. The thing about it is, though, that this stuff goes way beyond chemistry. This is real, honest-to-life drama.

Spenser Tracy's character is utterly relatable. He reacts and he does what it seems any guy of the era, or even today, would do in such a situation. His character is torn between his absolute adoration of Tess, and the knowledge that not only will he never amount to what Tess is, he also is pretty much emasculated by her self-actualization.

And for Katherine Hepburn, who plays Tess, there couldn't have been a better role. Hepburn, who was naturally independent anyway, plays the role of a knowledgeable Woman's Woman without needing an extra breath.

The thing about the films with these two are that they actually present a relationship, not just a courtship and a "and then they lived happily ever after, for all time" ending. They show the real issues with communication, work, space, and borders, everything that must be understood about a person to make it work. And they are absolutely adoring of each other.

Just like in the later film, Adam's Rib (1949), this film presents the issues and friction in their relationship almost spectacularly well from both sides. I can't say that this film was as good as Adam's Rib (George Steven's directing is just a tad off-balanced and the pacing is a little uneven), but at any rate it's a real joy to watch, from the beginning courting to the slapstick ending.

5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Opposites attract!
jotix1002 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
For all practical purposes, Sam Craig and Tess Harding could be regarded as people from different planets. He is a sports writer for a New York newspaper. Tess is the star reporter of international affairs for the same paper. She is the darling of a society that looks down on people like Sam because their way of looking at life. Sam, on the other hand, is a happy individual who loves his job and what's more, he is good at it. When these two different individuals meet, sparks begin to fly in all directions. Sam and Tess fall madly in love with one another. The trouble is that Tess is a woman in great demand and a busy schedule. Even their small wedding is marked with the pressing need to return of Tess to sort out the world's problems. Their first night together is a disaster! The main question is why did Tess bother to get married in the first place?

Best things in the film involve an awkward Tess, a highly intelligent woman that shows no common sense. When Sam takes her to a baseball game Tess decides to wear a hat that obstruct the view of everyone unfortunate enough to sit behind her. Also, the end of the movie is a gem by the way comedies are judged. It shows an eager Tess going over to Sam's apartment, where he has been living alone. She decides to surprise him with breakfast, but all her endeavors prove to be useless. How can the sophisticated woman who has probably never even made coffee in her life, expects to do waffles, eggs and coffee? Even using the latest appliances, Tess is defeated perhaps for the first time in her life!

Inspired direction by George Stevens, a genius in his own right. His legacy in the American cinema stands by itself. It helps that Mr. Stevens was working on the screenplay created by Ring Lardner and Michael Kanin, two men that clearly understood how to deliver a comedy that has shown its endurance as a favorite from those golden years of Hollywood.

This was the start of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn collaboration as a couple in the movies. Individually both these performers had a long tradition of excellence. As a pair, they are delightful to watch as the mismatched couple that love each other desperately, but can't achieve happiness due to Tess' own hectic agenda. Mr. Tracy and Ms. Hepburn do a wonderful dance for the pleasure of their fans.

Others in the incredible supporting cast include the great Fay Bainter, Minor Watson, Reginald Owen, William Bendix, and Dan Tobin, among others who do wonders to make this a fine time in the movies. Joseph Ruttenberg black and white photography gives us the best of all those marvelous sets created for the project. Franz Waxman provided the musical score. George Stevens kept things in control with a comedy that will live forever.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
mountainkath28 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I always find it amusing to read critiques of classic movies by people who judge them by today's standards. If one wants modern themes, stick to modern movies.

I adore classic movies because I love good stories (even if they aren't perfect and are predictable), classic actors (saying Spencer Tracy was a horrible actor just reveals one's ignorance) and also to see the settings (clothes, cars, etc.) of that era.

That said, I enjoyed Woman Of The Year, but I don't think it's a perfect (or even an excellent) movie. I will watch it again, mainly for the much talked about chemistry between Hepburn and Tracy.

Their romance (on screen and off) is legendary and this film shows us why. In the scene in the bar (just after Tess comes out from under the table) Tess says "Look, Sam". When Spencer Tracy says the line, "I'm looking", the way he says it makes it one of the sexiest things I've ever seen on screen (and I usually think Gable and Grant are the sexiest men on screen, not Tracy).

I thought the final scene in the kitchen was odd and much too long. It also seemed out of place with the rest of the film. I did like that Sam said he wanted Tess Harding Craig and not Mrs. Sam Craig, so that saved it (somewhat) for me.

All in all, this film is definitely worth seeing. Just be wary of people who proclaim it perfect.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Katharine Hepburn was the woman of every year.
Lee Eisenberg13 July 2005
In their first of nine co-star rings, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play Tess Harding and Sam Craig, reporters at a newspaper who get married. Naturally, Sam assumes that Tess will "settle down" and just be a wife, but she is very independent, with events to cover all over the world. They sort of forget that they're married.

You just can't beat a pairing like Tracy and Hepburn. "Woman of the Year" moves along like a...I can't even come up with a good comparison, but I basically mean that it's very brisk. It's impossible not to like this movie. You would have to be a full-scale sourpuss not to like this movie. A comedy classic.
11 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Romantic Comedy Without Much Comedy (Or Romance)
Blake Peterson9 May 2015
"Women should be kept clean, like canaries," secondary character Phil Whittaker (Roscoe Karns) muses at a baseball game. In attendance is Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy), a sportswriter, and his date, foreign correspondent Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn). You see, the two are sitting in the coveted section of the arena set for journalists. While the other writers are attempting to get a story from the day's event, the loud Tess, wearing a large hat that blocks the view of hungry onlookers, constantly interrupts the tension by asking questions any non-sports fan would be curious about. It annoys everyone around her, except for the enchanted Sam — Phil's (jokingly?) sexist comment is well-timed but funny, as we're aware that Tess is a ball of fire that just won't be constrained like some clean canary.

The first forty-five minutes of "Woman of the Year" are a romantic comedy dream, a battle- of-the-sexes marriage satire that wonders aloud if a tough-guy like Spencer Tracy can handle having a wife that wears the pants of the relationship and brings home most of the bacon, while he, a mere sportswriter, sits around, waiting to be loved. But once those forty-five minutes are up, things sour, turning into a feminist nightmare. The film decides to turn against its titular Woman of the Year, critical that she likes to work hard, wishing that she could become a dream spouse, a wife full-time. Ugh.

"Woman of the Year" is, famously, the first pairing of Hepburn and Tracy, who endured a relationship lasting until his death in 1967. Unlike many of the other on screen/offscreen couples of the era (Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), the two were never married, and Hepburn, most of the time, seemed to dominate the relationship, with her trouser-wearing, exercise-loving persona. Tracy, in the meantime, was her foil, the guy who kept her from saying things like "I'm a personality as well as a star" most of the time. They were and are a dynamite pair, but "Woman of the Year" depletes what makes them so charismatic (though not all the time), placing them in roles that attempt to turn them into that old, cute married couple upstairs.

When Tess Harding and Sam Craig first hear of each other, fireworks hardly set off. Sam hears Tess dismiss the sports industry on the radio, favoring a world that focuses on the important things rather than the fluffers, and decides to write an article that criticizes her sensible ideas. Tess writes back, deflating his ego, and so on, and so on. They become rivals — until their very first meeting. Sam is struck by her intelligently sexy poise; Tess is attracted to Sam's gentlemanly instincts. They court, ultimately marrying. But what was once magnetic to Sam is getting old. Tess is so in love with her job that he can hardly count on her to greet him at home after a long day of work. Can she be the Woman of the Year and the Wife of the Year, too?

There isn't anything wrong with a marriage drama — but "Woman of the Year" initially promises that we're going to get a brainy romantic comedy, and, unexpectedly, turns into a drama with seldom comedy and not enough romance. It feels like Tess and Sam spend more of the film in turmoil than in love, and laughs exist only in the first and final acts — anything in-between is slightly bitter. So much of the time is used up with Tracy pouting about Hepburn's chronic busyness. I would have preferred a story in which Tess maybe brought Sam along with her on her many globetrotting endeavors, turning him into an odd- man-out while enjoying some pleasing comedic situations.

But most of the time, "Woman of the Year" stays serious, a disappointing fact considering how funny it can be. The ending, which sees Tess trying to be the perfect housewife by making Sam breakfast in bed, rings with potential hilarity. Hepburn is game, and her timing is flawless. In fact, the scene is hilarious. But it's also coated in wasted energy; why couldn't more of "Woman of the Year" had scenes like this? The film's many failures are not the fault of Hepburn and Tracy, though — Hepburn, in an Oscar nominated performance, slides through comedic, dramatic, and romantic scenes like a grizzled veteran, and Tracy, always an appealing lead, manages to keep Sam from going down too harsh of a path.

"Woman of the Year" would have been better as a screwball comedy, or a romantic drama without Tracy that saw career woman Hepburn flying around the globe, using men along the way, perhaps falling in love accidentally. But the film doesn't know if it wants to be a romantic comedy or a marriage drama. It's unsatisfying.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sparkling Romantic Comedy...
Tim Kidner9 April 2012
This delight from director George Stevens was the first Tracy/Hepburn collaboration and as we all know by now, they fell in love.

That the film doesn't always portray them as a loving couple is down to their superb acting - they had to act as though they hated each other at times.

Back at the time, during WW2 (film was released in 1942) and with women having more and more general employment, due to the men having been conscripted, many could see possibly a situation where the woman wore the trousers, to coin an outdated expression. We have Ms Hepburn, running here and there - the film starts with press releases telling us that she is interviewing Winston Churchill - she is a very important and much in demand person.

Similar in a way to their later 'Adam's Rib', we have in the other corner, an everyday bloke, set in his ways and here he is someone who has a very male-dominated profession - that of a sports correspondent. Naturally, Tess (Hepburn) who's extremely intelligent and inquisitive, wants to know the ins and outs of baseball. She tries to enter and understand his world.

Naturally, this all causes slight havoc. She's always got her personal assistant hanging round her. She never knows which senior politician is going to phone her up - or when. Then, she is voted "Woman Of the Year". Her fiancé, Sam (Tracy) should be delighted. But isn't. The dreams he had of a normal, happy marriage slips further away from him....

The narrative flow IS a bit lumpy - there are scenes - the final kitchen scene is in real-time and we just let it unfold naturally - but that's what life - and love - is often about. I rather like the way it is broken up by changing tempos and situations, being more natural and as a result, the pair seem very real to us.

Some fans of the two actors believe that this is their best pairing, others think Adam's Rib is. I'm going to go for the second, myself, as it is slightly cleverer and the story is a touch stronger. Never-the- less, this is still extraordinarily good film-making and a fine movie.

I watched the DVD as part of the Tracy/Hepburn 4 disc boxset.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Anti-feminist, or ahead of its time?
keoldham11 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A bit about me before you read my comment: I am 37, female, American, and feminist (just in case I'm accused of being anything other) :) Many viewers (on IMDb and elsewhere)have commented that "Woman of the Year," while excellent and charming, is an anathema to our modern sensibilities regarding the role of women in family and society. If the message of the film really was that "traditional" roles provide more fulfillment for both husbands and wives, or that professional success as a woman makes one less of a woman, I would heartily agree. But this is not how I viewed the film and its message at all, and I'd like to share my view with you.

In my view, Craig was seeking not dominance over his wife, but a partnership in marriage - a marriage in which he was as important to Tess (Katherine Hepburn) as her outside responsibilities were. I don't think he felt that he came second in her life, I think he felt he was coming in last. He never asked her to give up her career, or even to cook him breakfast - these were things she offered him b/c she thought that was what he wanted. But he states that this ISN'T what he wants - he wants her to be successful and have her own life, but he wants her as a partner too. He explains that she always goes to extremes, and he wants her to be somewhere in the middle.

I hope some of this makes sense, and I have one last observation. After watching the film I asked myself what my reaction would have been if the roles had been reversed - if Craig had been the busy one and Tess had been wanting more involvement. I decided that it really didn't matter; Hepburn and Tracy could've switched roles and the film would have remained the same, the message would remain the same. So perhaps (at least in my view) this film isn't as anti-feminist as it first appears. Perhaps the film is asking us to value our partnerships, to seek moderation in our societal and personal roles, to communicate with our partners and consider their happiness as well as our own. So, in my view, the message of the film is not out-dated; but rather is as relevant today - for men AND women - as it was years ago.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not Quite the Ideal Woman
nycritic19 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In a nutshell, WOMAN OF THE YEAR can be summed up in one sentence: Hepburn and Tracy meet; sparks fly for the next three decades. The first of their eight pairings, this movie only works because of their personalities which acquit themselves as if they'd known each other for years. Despite the way the plot has them playing rival reporters and manage to bring them together only to spark the flames that threaten to separate them once their egos clash, it's a very well written story with dialogue to spare. If only its creators had not tacked on that left turn in which Tess Harding adopts a Greek child or the equally cringe-worthy ending where she gets her "comeuppance", it would have been much better. As such it but commences the celluloid magic which became Hepburn and Tracy and has not been equaled since.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Woman of the Year (1942) **
JoeKarlosi29 May 2005
I've always admired Kate Hepburn's strong-willed and self-contained persona, but I never found her very attractive. Who knew that she could be sexy? Well, in WOMAN OF THE YEAR she manages to exude that sex appeal - even shows a little leg.

Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are paired up for their first time and began their real-life romance with this film. They always make a wonderful team in general, but I didn't find this debut as strong as the latter ADAM'S RIB. Here, they are both newspaper columnists - Tracy writes about sports, and Hepburn is a celebrated feminist who's involved in politics. Though they're mismatched they start seeing each other and then ultimately get married, which turns out not to be the best idea; Spencer feels left out and alone while Katharine is hopping around and keeping active with her influential friends.

Though there are some humorous moments (the baseball game is a highlight) the film's not consistently funny and after a while I found myself not very interested in the bumps these two were experiencing in their personal life together. ** out of ****
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Hepburn/Tracy Debut
evanston_dad4 April 2006
Watching this first pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, it's easy to see why the two became a legendary screen couple (and real-life couple for that matter). They seem perfectly suited for one another, and you can't imagine either of them with anyone else.

But it's hard from a 21st Century sensibility not to be appalled at this WWII-era George Stevens dramedy. Tracy is a sports writer and Hepburn an international reporter for the same newspaper. They meet, marry and fight when she won't abandon her career to settle down into dutiful motherhood. In the end, she gets her comeuppance and realizes that what she wants more than anything is to learn how to separate eggs and make coffee.

Try to forgive it its decidedly un-feminist message though. This came out at a time when the culture was particularly threatened by the idea of women supplanting men in areas traditionally reserved for men, and it wouldn't have been good for soldier morale for men to think women back at home could carry on just fine without them. And at the very end, Tracy does come around and tell Hepburn that he doesn't necessarily want a barefoot and pregnant version of a wife any more than he wants a career-oriented wife who will put her work before her home, but rather wishes she could be something in between. As things play out in the film, this comes as too little too late, but it's a sophisticated attitude for the time and makes the movie much more relevant today, when women are being forced to juggle multiple roles.

Overall I enjoyed this movie, but I thought it was strangely directed by Stevens. I usually enjoy his 40s comedies, but his instincts feel off here. The way he chooses to shoot scenes many times seem in tone to be at odds with what's actually happening in them, so I wasn't always sure what was supposed to be light-hearted and funny and what wasn't. A striking example of this comes in the scene in which Tracy comes back to Hepburn's apartment after their first date. It's supposed to be an erotic and sexually charged scene, but it's shot like a film noir, with Hepburn silhouetted against brightly lit windows and the room in sinister shadow. There's a ponderousness to Stevens' direction that serves as a sneak preview of his prevailing style in the 50s, when he started to make socially "important" movies.

A solidly made but uneven film. If you're expecting a frothy comedy you will be disappointed.

Grade: B+
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Tracy and Hepburn are magic together!
Jem Odewahn11 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to learn a thing or two about Classic Hollywood, and what stars really were like, I recommend you see WOMAN OF THE YEAR. It's the first screen teaming of legends Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and the chemistry is terrific! The plot, revolving around two opposites who attract, is pleasant, yet forgettable, but this film is really memorable for it's stars. Tracy and Hepburn are both excellent in roles they would perfect, and perhaps even play in real life, too. The glossy MGM production values also show Hepburn to her best advantage, and she's very attractive (and, yes, beautiful). While it's not a great film, it certainly is a very worthwhile one.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
unredeemed misogyny
marenw29 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Many of the people who've posted here concede that this film, particularly its ending, is, um, just slightly misogynistic, but they often seem to feel that it is somehow redeemed by the chemistry between Hepburn and Tracy (which I frankly don't see here anyway) and/or by their individual performances. I say there is no redeeming it. The overarching message of the movie is that career women are domineering and mannish and must be brought back to the hearth if they are ever to make good wives.

Throughout the film, we the viewers are meant to identify with Sam. We are meant to feel his discomfort (fear?) when he stumbles onto the stage at the feminist gathering, splutter along with him when Tess presents the Greek orphan, and cheer when he finally proclaims that "the woman of the year is not a woman." Her character is intentionally overwrought, while his is eminently sensible. His vanquishing of her assistant at the very end is not just the dispatching of an annoying character, as someone implied, but the symbolic death of her career. This movie is not about equality in marriage; it is an expression of the fear that arose as more and more women joined the work force outside the home.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Extremely offensive
zetes23 May 2010
Funny at times, but it leaves a particularly bitter taste in your mouth. We all know how sexist and offensive films of the Golden Age of Hollywood can be, and most fans of classic movies try to look past the out of date sexual politics, or even find them interesting. Woman of the Year is a rare film where it was just so in my face I ultimately couldn't take it. Katharine Hepburn plays a political columnist and humanitarian. Spencer Tracy (it was their first pairing) plays a sports columnist at the same New York newspaper who takes offense at her idea that Major League Baseball should fold while the war is going on. Opposites prove to attract in the movie, though it's completely impossible that these two people would ever say more than a few words to each other. Tracy comes off as a total boor (and a total bore), and any woman worth her salt would turn up her nose at him. But the audience is asked to feel sorry for him whenever he comes off as an ignorant ass, and we're supposed to cheer as he attempts to domesticate Hepburn. Hepburn is viewed as utterly pretentious and uppity, when it reality she should be seen as a hero. The film opened only a month and ten days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was certainly filmed beforehand, so historically you can understand where Tracy was coming from. I'm sure a good many people in America were just a little worried about Hitler, and just a little more worried how the Yankees were doing that year. That doesn't however excuse the fact that the film was pretty popular in its time, and even won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay a year later. One would think it would have come off as offensive to audiences in the very early days of our entrance into WWII.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
First Tracy-Hep teaming
didi-58 October 2003
And what a movie it is! Not because of the plot, which is pretty thin (super accomplished political journalist Tess falls for down to earth sports writer Sam), but because of the definite sparks flying between Tracy and Hepburn. Just watch that first scene and the eye-play between the two...

The ending was a mistake, though, especially when viewed with a modern eye; I believe Kate herself regretted Tess' 'conversion to little wife' in the final reel. I think we'd all have Sam's response to Tess' sniffy secretary Gerald though(yes, of course Miss Accomplished has a male secretary!).

Not a great film, but fun to watch in parts and the start of a great team on and off the screen.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Woman Outshines Man
kenjha3 July 2006
Hepburn shines as a beautiful, world-famous political columnist. It is hard to believe that she would fall for an Average Joe sports columnist like Tracy and the latter's performance is too dull to make her attraction to him believable. The first teaming of the pair has its moments but can't quite decide if it is a comedy or a drama. The basic message of this movie seems to be that a woman's place is in the kitchen although there is an amusing sequence in the kitchen where Hepburn tries to disprove this notion. Something seems to be missing from the timing/delivery of the humor. In 1942, the same year as this movie, Director Stevens had much better success with "The More the Merrier."
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hepburn was a Useless Actress
gavin69429 February 2016
Rival reporters Sam (Spencer Tracy) and Tess (Katharine Hepburn) fall in love and get married, only to find their relationship strained when Sam comes to resent Tess' hectic lifestyle.

"Woman of the Year" was the first of nine films Hepburn and Tracy made together. They met for the first time on the shoot. In the 1993 documentary Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, Hepburn herself says she was wearing high heels at the first meeting with Tracy and producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and said "I'm afraid I'm a bit tall for you, Mr. Tracy". Mankiewicz then responded, "Don't worry, Kate, he'll cut you down to size." It was during the filming of Woman of the Year that Hepburn and Tracy became romantically involved – a relationship that lasted until Tracy's death in 1967.

Exactly what Tracy saw in Hepburn is beyond me. I have always found her acting ability overrated ,and her unusual voice and accent is quite obnoxious at times. I suspect she was right in her day and just kept on going fueled by past success. Much as the "husky voices" of Howard Hawks' women would not be popular today, but allowed some women -- notably Lauren Bacall -- to gain stardom.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The first pairing of Hepburn & Tracy struggles with tone
sme_no_densetsu24 June 2011
"Woman of the Year" marked the first of nine big screen pairings of Katherine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy. In it, a down-to-earth sports writer falls for an internationally minded political columnist. Their unlikely attraction results in marriage but things do not go smoothly as Hepburn's character pays more attention to her career than her husband.

The chemistry between Hepburn & Tracy isn't as refined here as it would become in later pictures but one can sense a spark between them. The contrasting characters make for some spirited interplay while Hepburn's deft performance landed her an Oscar nomination. There's little worth remarking upon in the supporting roles, though the actors are all capable.

I found the film's biggest fault to be the screenplay, which nevertheless won an Oscar. The script fails to establish a consistent tone, as if the screenwriters couldn't decide between a comedy or a serious drama. They ought to have committed to one or the other since they make an awkward mix here.

George Stevens' direction is well done and so is the score by Franz Waxman. Neither really warrants any special attention, though.

In the end, "Woman of the Year" isn't entirely unsuccessful but I wouldn't particularly recommend it either. There are better Hepburn/Tracy films that aren't impaired by odd shifts in tone.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Disappointing beginning
vincentlynch-moonoi9 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I know this film generally gets good reviews and was quite popular, but I don't agree, and I say that as a tremendous fan of Tracy's. I believe this film suffers from a number of maladies. First, it can't quite decide if it's a comedy or a dram. The first half of the film has quite a bit of comedy in it, but then devolves in a melodrama as the marriage between two newspaper people falls apart. Second,the film wastes two marvelous actors who deserved far more screen time -- the venerable Fay Bainter and Minor Watson (not to be confused with Bobs Watson). Third, the revised ending of the film just doesn't work that well; had Katherine Hepburn's part been played by Red Skelton, it would have done very nicely.

It's not that the acting is bad here. It isn't. Quite good, in fact. But the plot...well, starts off nicely highlight how two very different people can fall in love...but then devolves into a slow-placed second act as the marriage begins to fall apart...and never quite recovers as Tess (Hepburn) realizes she desperately wants the marriage to work...but Tracy is already gone. And can we quite forgive a couple who dumps and orphan? Tracy and Hepburn could be great together (just take a look at "Adams Rib" or "The Sea Of Grass" or "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner"), but this first pairing of the two...well, in my view, just doesn't quite come off. Oh, it's worth watching, but primarily because it's the beginning of a beautiful movie pairing and real love affair.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews