Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 13, 2020)
One of Hollywoodís most famous couples, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn first paired together for 1942ís Woman of the Year. They quickly followed that with 1942ís Keeper of the Flame, but their third mutual flick waited until 1945 and Without Love.
Due to the war effort, virtually all lodging in Washington DC becomes occupied. Desperate for space to conduct tests on his military inventions, Pat Jamieson (Tracy) locates room in a house owned by Jamie Rowan (Hepburn).
The pair initially dislikes each other. However, as they get better acquainted, a strong friendship blossoms.
Due to past relationships, both Pat and Jamie swear off romantic love, so they decide to get married in a platonic situation. Along the way, they find deeper feelings in spite of their attitudes.
No one who ever saw a romantic comedy can claim to call that last sentence a spoiler. Love offers the stereotypical tale of the couple who initially dislikes each other but connects by the end.
With a movie like this, the possible charm comes from the way the filmmakers tell the story. We can tolerate the predictable nature of this sort of flick as long as it finds something enjoyable and engaging to keep us with it.
For its first act, Love manages to do so, mainly because it remains light and lively. With a screwball tone and amusing moments, the movieís opening segment promises a brisk affair.
Alas, Love too soon embraces a more maudlin tone, essentially around the time Pat and Jamie tell us their backstories. When we learn why both refuse romance, the film goes down a more morose path and it loses its prior energy.
It doesnít help that 110 minutes seems far too long for a story like this. Love pads that running time with all sorts of unnecessary moments, none of which add to the overall package.
Love occasionally sparks to life when it indulges in the secondary romantic tale of Jamieís cousin Quentin Ladd (Keenan Wynn) and her real estate agent Kitty Trimble (Lucille Ball). Though meant mainly as comic relief, those two show much more spark and personality than do the leads, so we tend to wish Love would focus on them.
Whatever real-life connection they enjoyed, Tracy and Hepburn fail to demonstrate that chemistry here. It doesnít help that the film tries to convince us Jamieís 10 years younger than Hepburnís actual age Ė heck, Iím not sure Hepburn ever looked 28! - but even without that, the leads donít charm the way they should.
Without Love never turns into a bad movie, but it does deliver a sluggish one. Despite Hollywood legends on the screen, it brings us a dull affair.