Friday, May 27, 2011

An Original - Katharine Hepburn

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
Katharine Hepburn 1907-2003

Katharine Hepburn has never been one of my favorite actresses but I have always admired her spirit.  She was truly an original and in some ways, ahead of her time.  Her manner of dress and outspoken personality on screen made her someone to look up to and in some ways, fear.  For me, she was far better later in her life in such roles as Eleanor of Aquitaine in "A Lion in Winter" and as Christina Drayton in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"  However, in my class last week we were shown the 1937 film "Stage Door," which was one of her earlier films.  It also starred Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden and Jack Carson.  It is the story of a boarding house for aspiring young actresses in New York and has some of the craziest dialogue (especially between Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden and Lucille Ball.)  The story is a simple one about actresses trying to make it on Broadway and Katharine Hepburn joins the house as a wealthy socialite who is irritating and brutally honest thus not making many friends.  She receives a role on Broadway that was coveted by one of the quieter girls in the house with dire consequences.  This is not a great film but it is a very good film that shows her style and appeal.  She delivers her lines with a quickness that bites but when the unthinkable happens to one of her fellow actresses, she shows us a soft, kind heart and a loyalty to her friends that surprises everyone.  I have a feeling that the real Katharine Hepburn was probably very much like this character - strong, outspoken, original, warm, kind and loyal - someone you would want to know and have in your life.  

Other films to watch to know the young Katharine better:

"Morning Glory"
"Bill of Divorcement"
"Alice Adams"
"A Woman Rebels"

For the older Katharine, do not miss:

"The African Queen"
"Lion in Winter"
"On Golden Pond"

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