The Philadelphia Story vs. Woman of the Year



It's strange to think that the deeply unconventional, outspokenly feminist Katharine Hepburn made her Hollywood comeback with these two films. In The Philadelphia Story, Tracy is blamed for her ex-husband's drinking problem and her father's affair; apparently if she were less frigid, the men around her wouldn't be such losers. They spend the entire time telling her how she fails to live up to what a woman ought to be, and the crux of the film is that they're right! In Woman of the Year, Tess is a "career woman," and her marriage suffers as a result. Her inability to make breakfast for dear ol' Spencer Tracy is meant to belie her femininity. These are both difficult to watch for me today but at least there is a lot going on in The Philadelphia Story, and pages and pages of sparkling dialogue. Whatever else it is, it's a beautifully executed film, although I do think Jimmy Stewart's Oscar was mostly a consolation prize for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, despite his fine work here. Woman of the Year is just a chore. It's slow and unpleasant and relentlessly sexist. I'll give this one to The Philadelphia Story, which I can enjoy on certain levels.

Woman of the Year works until it doesn't (the kitchen scene which ends it). The Philadelphia Story works all the way through.