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Pat and Mike must have been a pleasure for Katharine Hepburn to make
because she got to show off her athletic ability which was
considerable. Had she not decided to pursue a thespian career, Hepburn
could have gone into either tennis or golf, she was good at both or any
of the other sports named which she actually played. Later on as she
entered the ranks of senior citizens, health problems curtailed her
But she's having a whale of a good time her and playing with some of the best women athletes of the 20th century.
Hepburn's a college professor who's leading a rather dull life with a rather dull bore of a sweetheart in William Ching, who in a subtle way, belittles her.
In a rather unorthodox way she meets Spencer Tracy, a sports agent who very narrowly treads the line between the legal and the illegal. She makes a believer out of him that you actually can make decent money legally.
The usual Tracy/Hepburn charm is running on all cylinders. Pat and Mike ranks in the upper division of their screen teamings. I'd say that this was more her film than his though.
A lot of familiar faces are in the cast. Look for Charles Bronson playing a hood and Chuck Connors playing a small town sheriff. Both of them make themselves noticed here which led to long careers for the two of them.
PAT & MIKE is the seventh Tracy-Hepburn collaboration, and it stars Spencer
Tracy as Mike Conovan, the moneyminded sports racketeer with a heart of
gold, and Katharine Hepburn (looking a great deal younger than she did in
1951's THE AFRICAN QUEEN) as his beautiful 'property', Pat Pemberton. Pat is
an all-round 'lady athlete', adept at golf and tennis (not to mention
shooting, basketball and presumably swimming), but completely frazzled
whenever her fiance Collier Weld (a suitably smarmy William Ching) is around
and watching her. In a bid to become more in control of herself and her
life, she (contrarily) submits to Mike's management and he takes her around
the country as a golf and tennis pro. It doesn't take much imagination to
realise what happens next--Mike's 'handling' of Pat is the kind of handling
she's willing to accept (switch 'Tracy' for 'Mike' and 'Hepburn' for 'Pat'
and you get also a description of Tracy and Hepburn's real-life
relationship), and before long, Collier is pretty much left in the
This film is evidently a star vehicle for Tracy and Hepburn, containing next to no artistic pretensions or even any real attempt to press a subtle feminist point (in contrast with other Tracy/Hepburn films like WOMAN OF THE YEAR or ADAM'S RIB). In fact, the film seems to be just a comfortable, familiar joke between actors, writers and audience--we know these characters, we know these actors, we know what kind of relationship they always have (bantering, sparring, and in the end just a perfect fit)... the only thing that's different is the names of the characters. Sam, Adam, Mike--Tess, Amanda, Pat--what's the difference?
To be fair, Hepburn's character of Pat Pemberton is much softer and more vulnerable than either Tess Harding or Amanda Bonner. This character variation doesn't hide the real point of the screenplay though--Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin evidently wanted a chance to display both Hepburn's natural athletic abilities (phenomenal for a non-professional, but possibly not 100% believable against sports stars like Babe Zaharias) and her incredible legs. Well, they did succeed at both of these things, to great effect. It's great fun for a Hepburn fan, having read about her deep and abiding love of any and all sports, to get a chance to actually watch her playing golf and tennis onscreen. (This doesn't mean, of course, that the frequent and long golf scenes don't test one's patience occasionally!)
Spencer Tracy has great fun as Mike as well, the sports agent who originally wants Pat to flub a game and come in second. He claims early on in the film that the trouble with her is that she's got too honest a face--it's only Tracy's ability to make rough-and-tumble characters believably vulnerable at heart that makes his later declaration ("I must have caught something from you" i.e. honesty) acceptable. The chemistry between the two is probably closer to the comfortable rapport they shared in ADAM'S RIB as man and wife than the fireworks that went off between them in WOMAN OF THE YEAR. Whatever the case, it is still always a joy to watch Tracy and Hepburn together onscreen, and it's largely because this film stars who it does that you can allow yourself to enjoy and be taken in by what is evidently a cutesy star vehicle written by the stars' friends (Gordon and Kanin), and directed by the leading lady's best and favourite director George Cukor. (Some of the visual tricks, particularly Hepburn's face appearing on that of a horse, are actually more disturbing than flattering, and I--for one--would prefer not to pursue the metaphor through to its end.) Tracy and Hepburn are also boosted by an excellent supporting cast, particularly William Ching as Pat's obnoxious suitor and Aldo Ray as Mike's dimwitted star protege (until Pat comes along, that is!).
PAT & MIKE is a romantic comedy, but it's also romantic-comedy-*lite*. There are no forced or fake separations that are geared towards wringing tears from viewers before a reconciliation (contrast again with ADAM'S RIB and most formulaic films in recent years). The film is just a little piece of joyful fluff--not taxing at all for either the writers, the actors, or the viewers. For a brilliant comic set-piece, watch out for the scene in which Pat takes on the two seedy sports racketeers and dispenses them with remarkable ease and efficiency. Otherwise, watch PAT & MIKE with the knowledge that this is neither Tracy and Hepburn's best, nor is it their worst. If you keep your expectations down, you'll certainly enjoy watching this film because it aims low (aiming only to please and amuse, and not necessarily to engage and thrill), and fulfils those aims very well. 8/10.
According to film lore, writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin were
inspired to write PAT AND MIKE when they realized that Katherine
Hepburn was a near-professional-level golfer and tennis player. The
result is a sprightly tale of a college physical education teacher
named Pat (Hepburn) who turns pro with the help of a slightly shady
promoter manager named Mike (Tracy.)
As always, Tracy and Hepburn make for an engaging pair, and the supporting cast is crammed with memorable faces, including Jim Backus, Chuck Conners, a very young Charles Bronson, and even Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer--and every one plays with the same charming touch. The sports scenes also gives sports fans a glimpse at such legendary athletes as Babe Didrikson Zaharias. But the real interest here is the script itself: in an era noted for sexism, PAT AND MIKE is flatly feminist, and the story finds Hepburn first rebelling against fiancé William Ching's "little woman" mentality and then straightening out Spenser Tracy on the same point--and in one of the film's most memorable scenes, Hepburn effectively shoves Tracy aside to beat up two men who threaten him!
Given the nature of its story, PAT AND MIKE spends quite a lot of time on the golf course and the tennis courts, and those who have little interest in sports may not find it to their taste; that said, in spite of its many charms, the film isn't really in the same league with Tracy and Hepburn's ADAM'S RIB. Still, fans of the screen team will enjoy it quite a bit, and even purely casual viewers will have a good time.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon specifically wrote this screenplay because of
Katharine Hepburn's real sports ability.
This is a terrific comedy and a great vehicle for Hepburn and Spencer Tracy....this gives Tracy a chance to play a Brooklyn sports thug. Very funny.
Also, this is a rare chance to see some famous Women golfers of the early 1950's on film...not mention a great performance by Jim Backus.
George Cukor's direction is relaxed and natural.
There's also a funny set-piece with Hepburn having a panic attack during a tennis match.
A great movie.
During a friendship that last many years, Tracy and Hepburn made many
movies together and this is a good example of the chemistry that
existed between them. In this movie, directed by George Cukor, Hepburn
plays an athlete who comes under the management of a small town sports
promoter in Mike Conovan, played by Tracy. In the role of Pat
Pemberton, Hepburn is a free-spirited woman with spunk and personality.
Mike has a number of colorful characters as his clients. One of the
gags lands the group in a police station explaining their actions to a
puzzled sheriff, played Chuck Conners. The acting is good all round.
The golf game between Pat and Babe Zaharias (outstanding golf pro in real life) translates beautifully to the screen with the crowd moving from green to green, golfers teeing off, putting and shooting into the rough. A very good movie, entertaining from start to finish, and a good chance to see Tracy and Hepburn in action.
Out of MGM, Pat and Mike is directed by George Cukor and written by
Ruth Gordon & Garson Kanin (Oscar nominated). It stars Spencer Tracy,
Katharine Hepburn & Aldo Ray. David Raksin scores the music and William
H. Daniels photographs it on location around Los Angeles. Most of the
golfing scenes were filmed at the Riviera Country Club, with other work
shot at Occidental College. The film is notable for featuring many
sports star cameos, some who show up include: Babe Zaharias, Betty
Hicks, Helen Dettweiler, Don Budge, Gussie Moran, Beverly Hanson and
Alice Marble. In the support cast are Charles Bronson, Frank Richards,
Jim Backus, and Chuck Connors.
Hugely efficient romantic comedy that sees Hepburn as sprightly PE teacher, Pat Pemberton, who is courted for stardom by shifty promoter Mike Conovan (Tracy). The trouble is is that as talented as Pat is, she goes to pieces when watched by her beau, Davie Hucko (Ray). Pretty soon Pat starts responding to Mike's methods of coaching, and could there even be love in the air too? OK, so it doesn't hold any surprises in how it pans out, but the fun is in getting there. The script is tight as a padlock and Cukor gets great performances out of his two leads. Notably Hepburn, who gets to show her undoubted athletic ability. Added bonus is Raksin's score, which is breezy with jazzy tones and sits nicely in context to the material playing out.
Not as sharp as Adam's Rib, but clever and funny in equal measure. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The last six of the Tracy-Hepburn films each examined the relations of
the two stars in settings where public attention was frequently
occupied by other factors. STATE OF THE UNION looked at the pressures
of a Presidential campaign on a failing marriage. ADAM'S RIB looked at
the professional competition of a married couple handling a major
criminal case on both sides. The current film dealt with the sports
world. DESK SET dealt with corporations and computers. And GUESS WHO'S
COMING FOR DINNER dealt with race relations in America.
PAT AND MIKE (as mentioned above) is about the sports world. Pat Pemberton is a physical education instructor at a California College, who is engaged to Collier Weld (William Ching) one of the College's administrators. Collier frequently asks her assistance in getting donations for the college by playing golf and losing to the potential donors. But the one they are playing with has a loud-mouthed wife who keeps lecturing Pat on how to perfect her swing, until Pat can no longer stand it and demonstrates how much better a player she is than the loud-mouth. She is approached by Jim Bacchus to try to turn professional, and she does enter a series of games, and is approached by Mike Conovan (Tracy) about throwing a game. She refuses. He watches her playing and sees how wonderful she is, but he also notes her collapse in the last round of playing against Babe Zaharias. He does not see the reason - Collier showed up to lend his support, but he has a face on him that suggests he secretly does not expect Pat will succeed. So his face unnerves her and causes her to lose.
Gradually Pat decides to let Mike become her manager, and finds that it calls for his total control of her life in terms of diet and exercise, although he treats his heavyweight boxer Hucko (Aldo Ray) the same. But it works...and as she is good in other sports besides golf (such as tennis) she can work throughout the year. But in the course of an exhibition game in San Francisco Pat loses her careful control when she sees Collier and his family in the stand. She soon thinks the tennis net has jumped up several feet, or that her racket has shrunk. She collapses. Mike is concerned for her health but he now knows (as he saw her reaction to Collier) that Pat's boyfriend is "Joe Jinx".
Mike resolves to keep Pat from Collier as long as possible, and her game improves. However, while he is now clearheaded about being honest in the games (the money from the games is quite good), his business partners (George Matthews and one Charles Buchinsky - later better recalled as Charles Bronson) are less scrupulous. In fact the film reminds us of the seedier side of sports in general, regarding betting and fixing events.
Will Mike keep his partners under control? Will he find a way of getting rid of Collier's evil eye effect? These occupy the conclusion of the film. But the movie is funny, in particular when Hepburn uses her physical abilities to help out her manager - who is less than enthused by her actions. So are the problems Mike has with his heavyweight champ Hucko, with Aldo Ray drinking too many beers when he should be training, or when he has to be reminded of Mike's importance by repeating a three sentence mantra. MIke is intelligent enough to realize the mantra is not likely to be acceptable to Pat, so she does not repeat it...until the movie ends, and then she is asking Mike the questions.
A worthy follow up to ADAM'S RIB, I can only say that this film comedy is "cherce!"
I add a comment because I think so many comments on this movie miss the mark. Watching this again after Katharine Hepburn's death, I was struck with how far ahead of its time this star vehicle was. Not only does it capture who she was, but it expresses a truth about women's equality that is not always fully evident in her body of work. Pat turns the tables on Mike. She owns him. She made him. And where would he be without her? There are instances in many of Hepburn's works where even her feminist leanings cave in to the conventions of the times. But in this one, she stays strong. She no doubt falls in love with the man of her dreams, but she doesn't do so at the expense of sacrificing any of her other dreams. Great fun flick from Tracy-Hepburn and one of my all-time favorites.
Widow golfer, college coach and all-around smarty pants Katharine
Hepburn (as Patricia "Pat" Pemberton) is engaged to administrator
William Ching (as Collier Weld) until sports agent Spencer Tracy (as
Mike Conovan) admires her swing. She's "frazzled" by her fiancé, but
Ms. Hepburn is confident and successful under Mr. Tracy's tutelage.
This results in Hepburn messing up golf and tennis shots when Mr. Ching
is watching. You might want to bet on romance blooming between Tracy
The film is full of familiar faces. You may recognize a caddy, bartender, busboy and policeman - half of them fighting in an amusing scene with Tracy, Hepburn and Charles Bronson...
Featured supporting actor Aldo Ray (as David "Davie" Hucko) makes a memorable impression as Tracy's slow-witted boxer. Sammy White and George Matthews are good in smaller roles. The comedy situation is slight, and some of it is as exciting as watching golf - but at least Hepburn is playing. Director George Cukor with writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, the winning team from "Adam's Rib" (1949), knew how to score with Tracy and Hepburn. There may be fewer points here, but it's still a win.
****** Pat and Mike (6/13/52) George Cukor ~ Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Aldo Ray, William Ching
"Pat and Mike" is one of the many collaborations between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and it is, of course, a romantic comedy. As everyone knows, Hepburn and Tracy were real-life lovers, and the chemistry between them lights up the screen in this as in their other movies. Since everyone also knows the formula, it's obvious, long before they do, that Hepburn and Tracy will wind up together. "Pat and Mike" is one of Hepburn's better comic turns as a professional athlete unafraid to step into the middle of a fight to protect tough guy Tracy from gangster associates when they try to rough him up because he hasn't persuaded Pat to cooperate with their crooked gambling scheme. As in most of the Hepburn/Tracy movies, the premise doesn't much matter. The magic is between them, no matter the characters, no matter the story, and it is wonderful to watch since I can think of no present day movie couples who generate this kind of electricity and deliver this much fun.
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