May 12, 2009

Five Overlooked Katharine Hepburn Movies

Hepburn was so good, so often, that even her less popular movies have a lot to recommend them. Here are five worth seeing:

Christopher Strong (1932)
This pre-code romance is the only time that Hepburn played the other woman. In an early, more sensual version of her “independent woman” roles, she is less brisk, more brooding.

Holiday (1938)
Hepburn and Cary Grant in the same year they appeared together in Bringing up Baby. Though it has its madcap moments, this is a more tender, moving romance about a socialite who falls for her sister’s freethinking fiancĂ©e.

Keeper of the Flame (1942)
We’re so used to seeing Spencer Tracy and Hepburn trade witty barbs as they fall in (or more deeply in) love, it is no wonder that this somber, dark drama is one of the lesser-known Tracy-Hepburn movies. Though it is slow going, their solid performances, and the horror of the unfolding mystery, cast a potent spell.

Undercurrent (1946)
Robert Mitchum (and for that matter, Robert Taylor) was an odd match for Hepburn, but the novelty of seeing their only pairing, in her only film noir, glosses over some of the awkwardness. It is moody, mysterious and slightly unsettling, because it shows Hepburn so uncharacteristically vulnerable.

Pat and Mike (1952)
The chemistry between Hepburn and Tracy in this lesser-known comedy is so intense that you almost feel like you are intruding on a private moment. It's also a great showcase for Hepburn's strong athleticism.

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