Remembering the Great Kate

“I’m a personality as well as an actress. Show me an actress who isn’t a personality, and you’ll show me a woman who isn’t a star.”
– Katharine Hepburn-
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Katharine Hepburn. The only thing that is not unique about her is this last name “Hepburn”. As for the rest, the lady was, and will always be one of a kind. Today, the one who was also called “The Great Kate” would have been 109. Unfortunately, Katharine left us in 2003 at the fair age of 96.
Even if she’s not with us anymore, that’s not a reason for us, her fans, not to honour her on this marvellous day. For the occasion, Margaret Perry is once again hosting The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Of course, it’s with joy that I’m participating to it again, as I had so much fun last year. You see, Katharine Hepburn is one of the most interesting subjects to talk about. For my contribution, I won’t write about a particular film of hers, but will simply honour her with a text explaining why she’s a favourite of mine.
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At first, Katharine Hepburn is generally known for having won no less than four Oscars (Morning Glory, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond), for her love affair with Howard Hughes (we are now all thinking about Scorsese’ The Aviator), for creating Hollywood’s most famous love story with Spencer Tracy (as well as starring in some movies with him), for her partnership with Cary Grant in four films and for often been under the direction of George Cuckor. But Katharine Hepburn, it’s much more than that. I can’t say I know a lot about her personal life, but what the lady simply transmits to us by her presence on screen is enough for us to have our attention kept and, if this one is (which will obviously be the case), to be more and more curious about her.
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Kate and Spencer. Love is beautiful.
I perfectly remember when I first saw a photo of Katharine Hepburn. Like most of my favourite movie stars, it was in this book called “Les stars de cinéma”. I was looking at the pictures of all those marvellous stars that I was about to discover with my mother. I remember, when we arrived at Kate’s pages, my mother said “Oh yes, Katharine Hepburn is a great actress”. It’s funny, because my mother hadn’t really seen any of her movies except On Golden Pond, but this only proves us that Katharine Hepburn has a great reputation, even among those who don’t know her very well. Of course, my mother has seen more Katharine Hepburn’s films now, thanks to me, and I think she’s a favourite of hers too now! I was very happy when, after watching Women of the Year for the second time together, she told me: “Yes, I pretty like Katharine Hepburn! She’s a great actress” 🙂 Or well, something like that.
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One of the pictures in the book. I have this one as a poster too!
Before I saw any of her films, Katharine Hepburn was always presented to me as “The greatest actress ever”. So, of course, I had to discover her. If my memory is good, the first Katharine Hepburn’s film I ever saw was Holiday (George Cukor, 1938). Of course, it has the right ingredients to be a very representative Katharine Hepburn’s film: It was directed by George Cukor and her male co-star was Cary Grant. I’ve only seen this film twice. First time I watched it, I liked it, but I liked it better the second time (which was very recently). There is some stuff that I could understand better after a few years. However, the thing magical with Katharine is that, even if the film isn’t really good, she’s always there to save it. I recently watched Pat and Mike and honestly didn’t really like it. I don’t say that it’s not a good film, but I found it somehow boring. It just didn’t grab my attention. Luckily, the best thing about this film was her beloved Kate. I wonder what it would have been without her. She has such a presence!
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With Cary Grant in Holiday.

This song is forever stuck in my head:

That “presence” stuff makes me think about why Katharine Hepburn is so admired. Everything she does on screen is so perfectly well-calculated, depending on her character, the story, the situation, etc. The way she talks, moves, look at the other character (I love the way she looks at Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby), etc. is always neat. That voice! That unique voice! Some people could find it annoying, but it’s part of her personality, we can’t take it away from her. I must admit I’ve tried to imitate it, but no one can do it better than Kate herself. It’s a voice we’ll recognize everywhere. I can perfectly hear her saying “Oh but I can’t, I have a lease.” while I’m writing those words.
Yes, Katharine Hepburn certainly put all the energy she had in her on-screen performances. Thanks to her, her characters are so vivid, so present. She’s like a filter for the whole movie. She never hesitates. She’s such a great actress that it makes us wonder how she was in real life. Certainly a great lady! But what I mean here, is, how can you stop acting when you’re so talented? It simply seems addictive. Ok, I guess that’s why certain actors are called talented. It’s because they themselves can make the difference between a film and reality. I’m not an actress!
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However, Katharine Hepburn doesn’t only amaze us by her acting. To satisfy us, the lady simply needs to “be”. Cary Grant once said “Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, even I want to be Cary Grant”. Well, Kate should have said that about herself too. Do I want to be Katharine Hepburn? DAMN YES! Even if Katharine Hepburn is my fifth favourite actress (but I consider her to be among the three most talented), she’s certainly one of those who inspire me the most. There’s so many things that Kate says in her films that I would like to say in everyday life. I must be frank with you, I’m impatiently waiting the occasion to say “Go on Baby, down the stairs!” Ok, I wonder when this will happen… I must admit that I often said to myself that I should try the “Susan Vance method” to grad a guy. 😉 Kate also makes me do weird things, but that’s part of the amusement: I’ve tried TWICE to do the egg trick from Woman of the Year (separate the white and the yellow with a strainer). I’ll tell you, IT DOESN’T WORK, but it’s really nice to do because you have the feeling you’re Kate (I’m so thankful that eggs exist). ❤ For a 15 second of glory, why not being Kate? 🙂
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But, overall, Kate is the perfect strong woman model . She can be admired alright, not only for her acting abilities, but also for what she transmits to us. From what I know of Kate’s life, I think she was a very independent woman and somehow a feminist model. Some marvellous things she said certainly prove my point:
” I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done; As long as I enjoyed it at the time.”
“[on marriage] It’s bloody impractical. “To love, honor, and obey”. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t have to sign a contract.”
“I find a woman’s point of view much grander and finer than a man’s.”
“Only when a woman decides not to have children, can a woman live like a man. That’s what I’ve done.”
She certainly knew how to talk and how to be clear!
It was known that the lady was mostly wearing trousers, making her a revolutionary fashion icon. But, even in her movies she was one. How can we forget all those hats she wears in her films. Kate certainly was a hat’s head! As for the clothes, everything always seems to suit her perfectly, even rags. I think Katharine Hepburn was often wearing a red vest. Well, I have one myself, and, each time I  wear it (which is often), I think of Kate. 🙂
Anwyay, what the world would have been without Katharine Hepburn? What her co-stars would have been without her? Katharine Hepburn always seemed to have a perfect chemistry with the actors and actresses she was working with (young and old). Not always necessarily and  good off-screen chemistry, but certainly a good on-screen one. That was part of her professionalism. Kate made shining stars shine even more. She didn’t overshadowe them, she made them her equal (ok, I’m talking like James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story) in an unconscious way. She was a great and respectable lady from A to Z. She was a queen.
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Before leaving you, I have to reveal a little top list of my 10 most favourite Katharine Hepburn’s films. What do you think? Otherwise it wouldn’t been  a worthy article for this blog. 😉
1- Bringing Up Baby (and my second favourite movie of all times)
4- Little Women (I just love this scene with Joan Bennett when she shows her how to faint!)
5- Woman of the Year
6- On Golden Pond
7- The Rainmaker
8- Suddenly, Last Summer
9- Guess Who’s Comming to Dinner
10- Holiday
The film itself is not on the list, but I have to give an honorable mention to The Lion in Winter, because that certainly was one of Kate’s greatest performances.
I also invite you to watch my video tribute to her.
Since last Thursday, I watched a bunch of Katharine Hepburn’s films (some I had never seen, some I already saw). Of course, I’m going to watch more today. I will cook her famous brownies as well and read the other contributions for the blogathon. What a grant Kate’s day it will be!
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I, of course, want to thank Margaret for organizing this great event again. You can read the contributions here:
I’ll leave you with this quote by Katharine Hepburn that is a favourite of mine, because it makes me think so much of me. I love Kate’s mentality!
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”
Happy heavenly birthday beautiful Kate! ❤
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I think this is my favourite Kate’s moment.
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The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon: The Philadelphia Story

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Katharine Hepburn: What an actress! What a star! Winner of no less than four yes, FOUR Academy Awards, she’s considered to be one of the greatest legends of the Silver Screen, even, the greatest. She’s also a favourite of mine, number five in my top. Tomorrow, I will be happy to celebrate her 108th birthday. For the occasion, I’m participating in the Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon hosted by Margaret Perry. The blogathon takes place from May 9 to May 12, 2015, on Kate’s birthday. 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, directed by George Cukor and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (who was also a famous movie director) is the movie I chose to review for this amazing blogathon.

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The Philadelphia Story is about a young woman from the high society named Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn). She lives in a fancy house with her mother Margaret (Mary Nash) and her little sister Dinah (Virginia Weidler). Their uncle Willie (Roland Young) lives not very far. Tracy is about to marry a certain John Kittredge (John Howard). Two years ago, Tracy divorced her first husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant). Journalists are, of course, interested by her wedding, especially the Spy Magazine and his publisher Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell). He enlists Dexter to introduce his reporter Macaulay “Mike” Connor (James Stewart) and his photographer Elizabeth “Liz” Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to the Lords as friends of Junius (Tracy and Dinah’s brother). Thus, they can have a better access to the wedding. Tracy, furious, doesn’t believe a single word of Dexter’s story and refuses to have reporters on her wedding day. However, Dexter explains to her that Sidney Kidd has a juicy article about her father, Seth Lord (John Halliday) whom, she believes, is having an affair with a dancer. In other words, if Tracy doesn’t accept to have Mike and Liz to her wedding, Sidney Kidd will publish the article about her father. So, Tracy, who wants to protect her family reputation, has no choice but to accept.

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The Philadelphia Story was the fourth collaboration between Katharine Hepburn and director George Cukor but also the fourth and last movie starring both Kate and Cary Grant. The film won the Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor (James Stewart). It was also nominated for Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), and Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Hussey). The film was based on a theatre play written by Philip Barry. Katharine Hepburn also played Tracy’s part on stage from 1939 to 1941. Joseph Cotten was C.K Dexter Heaven, Van Heflin played Mike Connor, and Shirley Booth, Liz Imbrie. The Philadelphia Story is the second Katharine Hepburn’s film I saw (the first one was Holiday), but it’s the one that really made me love her. Of course, she was also great in Holiday and made a marvellous team with Cary Grant.

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This film doesn’t only have The Great Katharine Hepburn among its casting but some other brilliant actors who are all extraordinary in their own way: Cary Grant, James Stewart, Virginia Weidler, Ruth Hussey, Mary Nash, Roland Young, John Howard and John Halliday. Katharine Hepburn plays the part of Tracy Lord with a great sureness and expresses herself very clearly. We can see why she was chosen to play the part on stage. As always, she’s wearing some classy clothes including some fabulous hats like she always used to. We can express nothing but respect for this lady when we see her great acting in this moving picture. Tracy Lord is also a very complex character. Men describe her as a bronze statue, but she is a sensible person and desperately wants people to understand it. There, Kate’s gaze, in some scenes, becomes very important.

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As you know, James Stewart is my favourite actor. In this film, he really is at his best and I’m so glad he won the Oscar. He is incredibly hilarious  (especially during the party scene) and some of his reactions worth a million. However, thanks to this film, we can notice that Jimmy has a little imperfection: he’s not a good singer! Well, there’s a moment where he sings “Somewhere over the Rainbow” with an unmelodious voice and that’s one of the funniest scenes of the film.

Cary Grant is another actor for whom I have a great respect. In The Philadelphia Story, he first really seems to be the annoying ex-husband, having no respect at all, but we discover that he has an understanding heart and wants to be a better person and help Tracy to be a better person too. Just like James Stewart, some of his reactions worth a million. One of my favourites is when Tracy is about to call Junius to know if Liz and Mike are really his friends and he says “Wait..wait..”. Ok, there’s nothing really special in those words but his face always makes me laugh at this moment and his voice tons seems to have lost all its beautiful British tone.

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This film really makes me want to see more Ruth Hussey’s film. She really is fantastic has the photographer and her character is surely one of my favourites in the film. She certainly was born to be an actress and she acts like a fish swims. I love her facial expression when she surprises someone by taking his or her picture. She seems to be very proud of herself to the fact that she took their picture with asking for permission. The child actress in this film is Virginia Weidler. My! I think she’s my favourite child actress even if I only saw her in this film. She is, to me, the funniest part of the film. She’s very dynamic. She and Kate seemed to have a great complicity together. I love what Katharine said about her: ” We got lucky again with the girl-this time little Virginia Weidler, who had me in stitches. She was so terrifyingly funny I truly had a difficult time doing scenes with her. Honestly, I couldn’t look at her, she was so funny.” (IMDB). I won’t talk about all the actors, but I’ll conclude this by talking to you a little about Rolland Young who plays Uncle Willie. Uncle Willie is the old man who loves women and a little drink once in a wild. I have to say, the three funniest actors (and characters) in this film are Roland Young, Virginia Weidler and James Stewart. Of course, all these actors make a great team together and the film wouldn’t have been the same without them, especially Katharine Hepburn. 😉

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A screenplay is always something very important for me. Except for the excellent casting, this is certainly one of the best aspects of this film. It was written by Donald Ogden Stewart and Waldo Salt. There are so many great lines in this film. I can’t say which one is my ultimate favourite, but here are some I like very much and that always makes me laugh or smile. Because, after all, this is a comedy.

1- C.K Dexter Heaven: Hello friends and enemies…

2- Margaret Lord: The course of true love…

    Mike Connor: …. gathers no moss.

3- Tracy Lord: Goooood niiiiight little men!

4- Tracy  Lord [normal voice]: Hello Dexter. [ lower voice] Hello George. [high childish voice] Hello Mike!

5- Liz Imbrie: What’s this room? I’ve forgotten my compass.

6- Dinah Lord: Nothing ever possibly in the least ever happens here. Mother, how do you get smallpox?

7- Mike Connor: [drunk, to driver] Well, this is where Cinderella gets off, now you hurry back to the ball before you turn into a pumpkin and six white mice, goodbye.

8- Mike Connor: [calling outside his house] C.K. Dexter Haven! Oh, C.K. Dexter Haven!

    C.K Dexter Heaven: [coming to the door in his pajamas] What’s up?

    Mike Connor: You are.

9- Tracy Lord: South Bend, it sounds almost like dancing!

10- [Mike burps]

     C. K. Dexter Heaven: Excuse me.

11- Seth Lord: I am Seth Lord

     Mike Connor: No!

     Liz Imbrie [to Uncle Willie] So that makes you…

     Uncle Willie [to Liz] Available!

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Ok, I could go on and on but I think you’ve got the point. In this film, there are not only many great lines but also many unforgettable scenes. My favourite one is when Tracy and Dinah decide to welcome Mike and Elizabeth in a very exaggerated way. What I also love about this scene is that they are speaking French and their accent is absolutely adorable. The dialogues in this scene are also a delight. What about watching this scene now?

In 1956, a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story was released: High Society.  It starred Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord, Bing Crosby as C.K Dexter Heaven, Frank Sinatra as Mike Connors, Celeste Holm as Elizabeth Imbrie, John Lund as George Kittredge, Lydia Reed as Caroline Lord (instead of Dinah Lord), Louis Calhern as Uncle Willie, Sidney Blackmer as Seth Lord, Margalo Gillmore as Mrs. Lord, and Louis Armstrong as himself. Just like The Philadelphia Story, I adore this film. I believe it’s one of the rare good movie remakes. Honestly, I can’t tell you which one I prefer. Both have their ups and downs.

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Well, it was a great fun for me to review one of my most favourite movies of the 40’s in honour of Katharine Hepburn’s birthday. This chef-d’oeuvre is certainly a movie every Katharine Hepburn’s fans should see. I want to thank Margaret Perry for having created this swell blogathon. Of course, I invite you to read the other entries by clicking on the following link:

The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon

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