DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


George Stevens
Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Faye Bainter, Reginald Owen
Writing Credits:
Ring Lardner Jr., Michael Kanin

Rival reporters Sam and Tess fall in love and get married, only to find their relationship strained when Sam comes to resent Tess' hectic lifestyle.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 9/19/2000

• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Woman of the Year: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1942)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 20, 2017)

One of the all-time great screen couples, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy paired for the very first time with 1942’s Woman of the Year. Both Tess Harding (Hepburn) and Sam Craig (Tracy) write for the New York Chronicle, but they occupy different spheres of influence. Tess enjoys immense fame and popularity as a progressive political journalist, while Sam works for the sports section.

With all these differences, Tess and Sam don’t much like each other – for a while, at least. Eventually they fall in love and marry, a life change that comes to weigh on Sam when he lives in his famous wife’s shadow.

Spoiler alert: Tess sacrifices some of her independence to become closer to Sam’s idea of what a woman should be. Does this surprise me? No, but it disappoints me, as I’d hoped Woman would manage a little stronger “progressive” agenda than that.

Granted, it’s unfair to view the film’s attitudes through modern lenses. What qualified as forward-thinking in 1942 can look practically barbaric to modern eyes, so it becomes incumbent on the viewer to accept these differing attitudes.

Which I do – and yet, I still think Woman comes up short. It strikes me as a film that believes it boasts a progressive mindset but actually ends up with a fairly traditional POV. Though Woman does attempt a compromise of sorts, it still feels backwards anyway.

Even without my disappointment related to the way the film ultimately treats Tess, Woman leaves me cold. This occurs mainly because the movie never makes Tess and/or Sam especially interesting characters. It gives them various personality traits but fails to coalesce these into actual living, breathing people.

It probably doesn’t help that we see so much of the story from Sam’s point of view, and he’s easily the less compelling of the two leads. I suspect the filmmakers did this because he comes across as more of an “everyman” than overachieving Tess, but it still turns into a mistake because Sam seems like something of a jerk.

Which becomes almost shocking given the actor involved. With his warm, rumpled façade, Tracy oozed likability, so the off-putting manner in which Sam comes to us surprises me. I don’t think Tracy tried to make his character such a jerk, but that’s the end impression.

I do blame the script for most of these failings, as Tracy finds himself stuck with some genuinely unpleasant moments. He’s forced to declaim misogynistic tripe such as “the ‘Outstanding Woman of the Year’ isn’t a woman at all!” and he even gets stuck with a scene where he gratuitously attacks a man of foreign descent.

That bit may offer the film’s low point. At a party, Sam encounters a man in a turban who doesn’t speak English. The movie plays this guy’s non-comprehension for mocking laughs and has Sam call the man a “silly little jerk”.

Why? Because he’s foreign, I guess. The guy seems perfectly cheerful and pleasant – he just doesn’t know English. That makes him a jerk?

Perhaps that attitude feels more logical given the movie’s cusp-of-World War II production schedule, but it still is ugly and pointless. The turbaned character’s only sin is his status as a foreigner so attacks on him seem cruel and pointless.

As noted earlier, I can semi-forgive these moments due to cultural aspects of their era – and I also suspect they’d bother me less if I actually enjoyed the movie. Unfortunately, Woman mainly feels like a more comedic, less tragic Star Is Born.

And a dull one at that. As noted, the characters fail to becomes especially interesting, and the paper-thin story proceeds at a slow pace. Some scenes – such as one in which Tess attempts to cook breakfast – go on forever with little payoff.

All of this adds up to a disappointing film. With Tracy, Hepburn and legendary director George Stevens along for the ride, one expects greatness from Woman of the Year, but the final product seems mediocre at best.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Woman of the Year appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a top-notch presentation for an older movie.

Sharpness worked well, as instances of softness remained virtually nil. The image offered fine clarity and accuracy from start to finish. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation.

Print flaws never became a factor, as the movie looked clean and fresh. Blacks became deep and dark, while shadows looked smooth and well-delineated. Across the board, the image excelled.

I felt the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Woman seemed fine for its age. Speech offered nice clarity, with lines that appeared acceptably concise and crisp.

Music showed limited range but still boasted appropriate reproduction, and effects followed suit. A chatty movie, those elements didn’t have a lot to do, but they came across with more than acceptable accuracy. All of this added up to a soundtrack that held up well after 75 years.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio seemed fuller and warmer, while visuals offered radical improvements, as the Blu-ray was substantially tighter, cleaner and better defined. The DVD was a mess, so the Blu-ray became a major step up in quality.

The DVD included almost no extras, but the Blu-ray offers a good selection, and these start with 1984’s George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey. It runs one hour, 51 minutes, 30 seconds and includes comments from filmmakers Warren Beatty, Antonio Vellani, Fred Zinneman, Frank Capra, Reuben Mamoulian, Alan J. Pakula, Hal Roach and John Huston, RKO executive producer Pandro Berman, ex-wife Yvonne Stevens, choreographer Hermes Pan, author Irwin Shaw, screenwriters Jack Sher and Ivan Moffat, and actors Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Cary Grant, Joel McCrea, Millie Perkins, and Max Von Sydow. We also get some archival remarks from Stevens himself.

We learn how Stevens got his first high-profile directorial gig with 1935’s Alice Adams. From there, we go back in time to hear of his childhood interest in photography/film and how he came to movies. After that, we head back to the 1930s and follow Stevens’ career as he rises in Hollywood., shoots during World War II, and resumes his successful filmmaking career, all with an emphasis on a few specific projects, though we get some detours such as Stevens’ actions during the “Red Scare” of the 1950s.

On the negative side, “Journey” comes with way too many film clips. These don’t add a ton to the experience, and they fill an awful lot of the documentary; I’d rather hear more about Stevens’ life and work than see these unending snippets.

Even with those, though, “Journey” becomes a pretty good program. It covers the director’s life in a fairly sober manner, without the excess of goopy praise that often dominates shows like this; sure, we hear a lot of positives about Stevens, but these lack the kiss-butt feel we usually discover. The inclusion of so many Hollywood legends helps, too, as they give us nice stories and thoughts. I’d like a tighter version with fewer film clips, but “Journey” still works well as it is.

A new chat, we find an Interview with George Stevens Jr. that lasts six minutes, 13 seconds. The director’s son discusses aspects of his dad’s career, with a minor emphasis on Woman.

Stevens has a way of speaking about his father that leaves the impression of insight but doesn’t actually reveal much. That trend continues here, so Stevens tells us little of real merit.

From 1967, an audio-only Interview with George Stevens fills 16 minutes, 54 seconds. The director examines working with Hepburn and Tracy as well as aspects of the production. Stevens emphasizes run-ins he encountered with the studio and gives us the opposite of his son’s chat: a frank, enlightening set of thoughts.

Another new piece, we find a 14-minute, 23-second Interview with Film Historian Marilyn Ann Moss. She talks about George Stevens’ career before and after Woman as well as aspects of the production. Moss offers a nice array of notes, especially when she relates how test screenings of Woman led to an alternate ending.

The next two programs focus on the lead actors. Katharine Hepburn: Woman of the Century goes for 20 minutes, eight seconds and includes thoughts from author/journalist Claudia Roth Pierpont. She discusses Hepburn’s cinematic career until 1942 along with notes and interpretation of Woman. Like Moss, Pierpont reveals a strong collection of insights and makes this another useful program.

From 1986, The Spencer Tracy Legacy lasts one hour, 26 minutes, 34 seconds and offers material with Hepburn, daughter Susie Tracy, filmmakers Stanley Kramer, Joseph Mankiewicz, Garson Kanin and John Sturges, LA Times arts editor Charles Champlin, and actors Burt Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Richard Widmark, Joanne Woodward, Joan Bennett, Robert Wagner, Sidney Poitier, Mickey Rooney, Angela Lansbury, and Lee Marvin.

“Legacy” offers a fairly standard career overview, though not one that touches on Tracy’s private life much. It throws out a smattering of notes in that realm but mainly concentrates on Tracy’s acting career.

In that vein, “Legacy” does okay for itself, but it rarely offers a lot of insight. While it includes a terrific roster of participants – especially given Hepburn’s high level of involvement – they tend toward praise for Tracy.

Throw in a whole lot of film clips and “Legacy” becomes a serviceable show at best. The finale in which Hepburn reads the emotional letter she wrote to Tracy after his death becomes a strong point, though.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a booklet. It presents credits, photos and an essay from critic Stephanie Zacharek. As usual, the booklet finishes the package well.

As the first movie to pair Katharine Hepburn with Spencer Tracy, 1942’s Woman of the Year boasts a special place in cinema history. Unfortunately, it seems lackluster as a film, for it fails to create interesting characters or entertaining situations. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as good audio and supplements. The actors occasionally give the film a little life but in the end, it disappoints.

To rate this film visit the DVD Review of WOMAN OF THE YEAR

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main