The Katharine Hepburn Project

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Time for another patron-inspired post! …Sort of. The inestimable Mr. Erik Stadnik pledged to me ages ago and gave me three choices for what to write about. One of those was to cover the films of Katharine Hepburn. There’s no way I’m gonna pass up the opportunity to write about a star from my favorite era of filmmaking! So why haven’t I gotten to it yet?

Search me. But because it’s taken me so long (and because the topic is so juicy), I’m gonna do this one differently. Instead of creating a single post about a few of Ms. Hepburn’s films, I’m diving into an altogether bigger project.

iTunes has a number of Katharine Hepburn films available. I plan to cover all of them. Yep. All of ’em. They’ll each get a post. Some will be meatier, some may be slight, but I’ll talk about each one. I plan to do at least one per month (unless it’s a month I’m travelling, in which case I’ll give myself a break). If I find easy access to non-iTunes films,* I’ll do those too. And there will be a grand wrap-up post once I’ve gotten through them all. There may even be interim posts if I notice similarities or themes between films as I go.

Pretty exciting, no?

Before I jump in, I should lay my cards on the table so we can all see where I’m starting from. My starting position is this: I like Katharine Hepburn just fine. I’ve seen a handful of her films, and she’s always good at what she’s doing. If I sound a wee bit lukewarm, that’s because I am. I’ve never been particularly drawn to Kate, and I’m not sure why. I’m hoping to discover that in the course of this undertaking, and maybe even change it.

I suspect my ambivalence has something to do with Bringing up Baby. It’s the first Katharine Hepburn film I ever saw, and I reeeally did not like it. It’s a screwball comedy that was far too screwy for me (especially at the young age I first encountered it). Her character was supposed to drive the audience (and Cary Grant) a little batty. It worked too well on me. I won’t say what I wanted to do to her character, but it wasn’t nice. I’ve softened on the film as I’ve grown up, but it’ll never be a favorite. It’s simply not my kind of humor. And her character was emphatically not my kind of character.

As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I fear that impression, left at an impressionable age, meant poor Kate started with a significant disadvantage in my book. While I enjoyed her more in some of the films I saw later (The Philadelphia Story, Holiday, The Lion in Winter), I don’t think she ever quite made up for Bringing up Baby. And she was in a few other movies I wasn’t keen on (Sylvia Scarlett, Desk Set, Love Affair), so she never won me over.

I’m not sure I ever gave her a fair chance. While I cerebrally recognize her talent and impact, I don’t think I’ve opened myself to appreciate her on an emotional level, so I’m going to make a real effort to do that. And you can help!

I encourage you all to join me on this journey, or at least stop by from time to time to tell me what you think. I want to know: What are your favorite Katharine Hepburn films? Why do you love them? What is it about her that makes you swoon or punch the air? Are there good documentaries about Kate or her films? Any flicks you think I should search out, even if they’re not easily available? Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!**

I’ll be taking this in rough chronological order,*** starting with 1933’s Little Women (which I’ve never seen). So if you want in on the fun, watch that one in the next few weeks.

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About the Patron:

Erik Stadnik (@sjcaustenite on Twitter) is one of my favorite people in the world. I met him in person the same weekend I met my spouse, and I fell in love with both of them in different ways. In fact, Steven and I chose Erik to perform our wedding ceremony. He did it perfectly. He is also the intelligent, well-spoken co-host of three excellent podcasts, The Doctor Who Book Club, Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room, and The Classic Horror Cast. His always erudite and insightful blog can be found at erikandhispointlessblog.blogspot.com.

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*Last I checked, Netflix had a grand total of one (On Golden Pond). But hey, It’ll be nice to watch one without paying.

**Comments here are moderated, so if you post something and it doesn’t show up right away, just be patient. I’ll try to be swift at letting things out of moderation, but I do have to work and sleep. Note that this is mostly an issue if you’re posting here for the first time or are including links.

***If I’m already into the 1950s, and an earlier film suddenly becomes available, I won’t skip it simply because it’s out of order!

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4 thoughts on “The Katharine Hepburn Project

  1. Paul Weimer says:

    Favorite Hepburn? Probably The Lion In Winter. :)

  2. She is incredible in The Lion in Winter but I had the exact opposite opinion of Bringing up Baby when I was a kid. It made me have a lifelong crush on Cary Grant and want to grow up to be Katherine Hepburn.

  3. […] indeed, today marks the first official installment of my Katharine Hepburn project. I’ve started with the earliest of her films available on iTunes, Little Women from 1933. […]

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