Tracy Gives Hepburn a Sporting Chance
Maybe because Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were so good together, with such great chemistry and made everything seem so natural and easy that I find "Pat and Mike" a little to easy going. That doesn't mean that it isn't a good movie, it most certainly is with a fun storyline and fun performances but because Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn make it seem so effortless that it almost feels like it runs at one level never really reaching and peaks of hilarity or lows of scripted drama. As such "Pat and Mike" isn't my favourite when it comes to their movies together but that doesn't stop it from being good fun.
Pat (Katharine Hepburn - Adam's Rib) is an exceptionally gifted athlete who can turn her hand to almost anything which is what attracts shadowy sports agent Mike (Spencer Tracy - Keeper of the Flame) to her. The trouble is that Pat is engaged to Collier (William Ching) who not only wants her to give up on her sporting dreams and get married but when ever he shows up causes Pat to lose her nerve and lose at what ever she is playing. Despite pressure from Collier, Pat signs with Mike and whilst helping her to gain her confidence and deal with some of his shadowy gangster friends also form a mutual attraction.
On face value "Pat and Mike" plays along the lines of an easy going romantic comedy as we watch Mike quick talk Pat into becoming one of his clients and you know that whilst Pat may be engaged and that they often have opposite opinions that they are destined to be together. As such whilst "Pat and Mike" throws up various scenarios such as shady gangsters, betting syndicates and so on there is a sense of predictability about it and is very much a case of enjoying the amusement till Pat and Mike finally get together. That fun along the way comes from various sporting events where Katharine Hepburn demonstrates her skills at various sports as we watch Pat excel at golf and tennis as well as shooting.
But whilst "Pat and Mike" is on face value a fun romantic comedy, there is a second level with an element of sports psychology. What I mean is we have Pat who is a great athlete but the minute her fiancee shows up she loses that confidence. So part of what "Pat and Mike" is about is giving Pat that confidence, that ability to know that she is capable of winning. It's not the most in-depth look at sports psychology but provides another level to the movie which flows beneath the surface giving the fun romantic tale a slight purpose.
The trouble is that whilst the storyline and the writing, which provides for many a witty line, is good it almost feels like it plays out at one level. There is very little drama or at least in the first three quarters and seems so easy going as we have fun watching Pat excel at various sports. And when "Pat and Mike" does deliver some drama it is such a short burst that it has no lasting effect.
Now this shouldn't be a criticism but Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are so natural together even in scenes of semi arguing that it just adds to the easy going-ness of the movie. It does mean that everything seems so natural and the dialogue which Pat and Mike speak almost feel adlibbed but it's almost too smooth and maybe not really in keeping with their characters. And it's a shame as Spencer Tracy makes a perfectly shady manager and Katharine Hepburn is brilliant as the sporty Pat but because it's all so effortless it makes it feel a little wrong, a little too easy. What is for sure is whilst "Pat and Mike" also features solid performances from Aldo Ray as Davie Hucko and William Ching as Collier Weld it ends up being all about Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.
What this all boils down to is that "Pat and Mike" is a fun, entertaining movie which will definitely make you smile but it also seems a little too easy going. Maybe it's because Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were so good together or whether the screenplay didn't deliver enough dramatic peeks but it almost feels like "Pat and Mike" floats along providing amusement till eventually it reaches it's obvious romantically pleasing ending. For me it's not the best movie which Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together but most definitely worth a watch just to see Katharine Hepburn dazzle with her sporting prowess.