Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 1, 2020)
Ten years after they first partnered for 1942ís Woman of the Year, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn returned for their seventh of nine flicks. 1952ís Pat and Mike puts them together in a romantic comedy.
Pat Pemberton (Hepburn) shows great skill as an athlete Ė as long as she doesnít play in front of her domineering fiancť Collier Weld (William Ching). When heís around, she finds herself flustered and unable to compete.
Intrigued by Patís obvious talent, conniving sports promoter Mike Conovan (Tracy) recruits her as his client. He attempts to keep Pat away from Collier, all while he also avoids his shady past and potential romantic entanglement with his client.
As I noted when I reviewed an earlier Tracy/Hepburn rom-com Ė 1945ís Without Love - it doesnít count as a spoiler to reveal that love eventually blooms between the two leads. If you donít expect them to come together by the end credits, you donít understand how these kinds of movies work.
As I also mentioned in that other review, the appeal of a flick like Pat comes from its execution. In the case of Without Love, the end product sputtered because it seemed way too long and too focused on melodrama.
At least in one category, Pat beats Love: running time. Whereas the latter clocked in at a too-long 110 minutes, the former goes by at 95 minutes, a much more reasonable span for this kind of romantic comedy.
On the positive side, Pat comes with a more consistent tone than Love did, as the latter awkwardly mixed comedy and melodrama. With Pat, we get a more formal tilt toward the light side of the street, and that makes it more appealing, as it doesnít overshoot its goals.
Perhaps because the movie doesnít ask them to emote, Tracy and Hepburn also show a better connection here. They seemed awfully dull in Love, whereas they come across as more invested in Pat.
Though I admit I find it tough to buy the romance, mainly because Tracy looked like he was 52 going on 75. Not that Hepburn resembled an ingenue, but she aged much better than her costar, as she resembled a 45-year-old. Tracy seemed better suited to play her father than her lover.
As long as you get past Tracyís premature aging, he and Hepburn do form an engaging pair, and the film stays light enough to entertain, though even at a mere 95 minutes, it can still feel a bit extended. Thatís because the plot seems minimal at best, so Pat pads its content.
Much of this stems from the extended shots of Patís athletic competitions. While we need some of this to show her talents as well as her inability to perform in front of Collier, they run too long and can slow down the overall proceedings.
Other subplots fail to ignite. Pat populates with inessential moments that can make the film a little plodding at times.
Still, Pat boasts enough charm to keep us with it. Toss in a small role for a young Charles Bronson and this becomes a reasonably enjoyable romp.