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Katherine Hepburn


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I am sure that this won't be a popular post but I just watched Summertime with KH and I have to say that I have never understood her appeal. I have seen her in numerous films and she just doesn't "do it for me" in any of them. Don't know whether it is her voice or looks but I just don't understand the hype about her. I know that she had a long time relatonship with the married Spencer Tracy but did she ever marry and have children?

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> {quote:title=Gatsbygirl wrote:}{quote}

> I just watched Summertime with KH and I have to say that I have never understood her appeal. I have seen her in numerous films and she just doesn't "do it for me" in any of them.


OK, I'll bite.

I've read numerous biographies/Kate autobiography and her "lack of appeal" is covered in every single one of them. In fact the oft repeated phrase "box office poison" referred to her originally. Many people were not "taken" by her, she's not traditionally sexy; angular, thin, haughty, confident, etc. And yes, her voice is often sited.


Personally, I love Kate. There are lots of parts to a woman's personality besides "sexy" although I find Kate appealing as well. Sure, she plays an old maid/batty old girl with great empathy & aplumb in her later years as she did in Summertime, Suddenly Last Summer, African Queen, Lion In Winter.


But check out her early films when she was an ingenue. Her films with Cary Grant Philadelphia Story Bringing Up Baby she's tall, cool, beautiful, screwball yet somehow fascinating. My personal favorite is Alice Adams the first film I ever saw her actually vulnerable and sweet.


And her pairings with Tracy are particularly good because you can see how the opposites attract- he's cuddly, emotional and very human to her elegant goddessness. Desk Set, Woman of The Year, Adam's Rib are all good examples. Tracy often brings her back down to earth in these films.


Sure, Kate is not everyone's cup of tea but the arc of her career as she aged was fascinating. She embraced every facet of her changing persona and did well with each one. Her height and angular thinness tended to make her look "hard" but she was always dressed to perfection and often her "look" became an element of her part, like as an athlete.


I watched Summertime for the first time last night too. And I was touched by her performance. I suppose being an old maid myself made me recognize the dignity and fear of her charactor.

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Gatsbygirl!! at last! Someone else who doesn't like Katherine Hepburn! I absolutely know what you mean! (Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but I've been wanting someone to raise the K.H. question for a while.)


I 've always wondered why this actress has been elevated to such legendary heights. As I've said before, I would think she was ok if people would just stop talking about her like she's God's gift to the movies. It's just that she's over-rated. My problem(s) with her can be summed up like this:

1) her voice -her accent is extremely irritating

2) she 's not that versatile; she usually plays a variation on the same kind of person

3) she's always so regal and queenly and perfect


It has been pointed out to me that her "accent" was her natural way of speaking, not "put on". Also, that because of that very accent, and her general "regal" bearing, she was indeed perfect for many of the roles she played (ie Tracey "Sam" Lord in The Philadelphia Story )


I recognize all that, but ultimately, I still find her annoying to watch. I'm glad somebody else feels the same way.

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Tiki Soo,


I am with you. I think Hepburn is a fine actress. She took a lot of chances, so some of her films seem a little odd, but the ones I like, I really like.


Summertime is one in which I find her very touching and vulnerable..... her fear of being taken advantage rings very true to me, as I am a shy person myself, who longs for love but doesn't want to be hurt. This one and Alice Adams are so vulnerable as to be almost painful to watch.


Other favorites include The Philadelphia Story, Desk Set, Pat and Mike, Adam's RIb, Quality Street, Spitfire, The Little Minister, Holiday, Stage Door, The African Queen, and The Lion in Winter.


I understand not everyone likes all classic film actors. but I do like Kate, for her strong, funny and yes, vulnerable self, and because she is so different from most of the other actresses during the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's. I think she'd be the first to say, "You don't like me? Well, bully for you. Don't watch. Go do something else."


She's unapologetically smart, but that doesn't mean she has no soul. I think, when she opens herself up, there is something grand and very human about her.

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Jack and Tikisoo: you both make very strong arguments in favour of Kate. I might have come on a little too strong in my dislike of her, but it's only because I've never encountered anyone else who feels the same way that I do about her. My parents loved her, especially my mother.


I'm guessing that the pic FredCDobbs posted was from Sylvia Scarlett, an unusual, even daring film for its time in which Katherine Hepburn disguises herself as a boy throughout much of the story. I do admire her for that, and I think she did a good job.


Other Hepburn films I like: Bringing Up Baby (maybe because I wrote an essay on it), The Philadelphia Story, Alice Adams, and even The African Queen.


It's mostly her work with (surprise!) Spencer Tracy that grates on me. That very confidence that everyone admires so much, I find overbearing in these films. I don't know, maybe it's chemistry (my reaction to Kate, not Kate's with Spencer's.)


Gatsbygirl, I'd like to know your thoughts on some of her other pictures.

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Guess I'll jump in here, too. I'm a Kate fan; like all her work, some pieces more than others. Part of her appeal for me is the long period of cinema history she worked in and her consistently good performances.


She absolutely can be annoying; but I think Kate was who she was without apology. I don't think of her as a goddess, just a very good actor who turned in good work.


There are other people who can be annoying, but can also turn in fine performances, such as Liz Taylor. Even though she was incredibly beautiful and sexy, she was also tough and shrewish in more than the title role of Shrew.


Ain't it nice we can like and dislike actors as we choose; there are so many of them to consider.

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I'm a big fan of Hepburn's. By the way, that's Katharine with an "A." I think she probably ran her career in the smartest way than many of her counterparts of the 30's. Sometimes actor-y, prickly

...but 98% of the time I just watch her in awe. You see, I believe her when I see her films. She's had many a great male co-star but my favorites are her pairings with Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy. Chemistry (such an over used word) abounds. It's real...sincere...mutual respect. Funny, Tracy had one of the most beautiful women in films...on the planet...when he starred with the beautiful Hedy Lamarr...but I just didn't believe them together.


I saw the great Hepburn on Broadway while I was in college, in "COCO" and even though I knew it was Hepburn, it kind of wasn't Hepburn. (I always wonder how actors do that...right before my very eyes, as I've seen many a "movie star" on Broadway). Hepburn's performance in "LION IN WIN-

TER" is fantastic. She could spar and banter and fight with the best of them. And being with Peter O'Toole was one of the best of them. That was a battle royale that was breathtaking for me to ex-perience. I've never seen Katharine Hepburn as sexy as she was in "Summertime" after Rossano takes the edge off of her and smooths those ruffled pent-up feathers. I was reminded of this in last night's airing of the movie. I watched her voice deepen, her hair out of that darn bun and breathing kind of heavy with Rossano. And that was a different Katharine than I've experienced in her other films. ( Okay, okay...so working that close to Brazzi may NOT have been "acting.") < Sigh >


This is no debate for me. Purely and plainly, I believe Katharine Hepburn is one of the giants of Hollywood. Many many actresses (who know the trix of the trade) will probably say the same thing. It's fashionable to bash the legends from the cyber-safety of our laptops and netbooks and iPADS or whatever...but these iconic legends of the Golden Age of Hollywood have stood the test of time.


Their names will be remembered long after ours is forgotten.

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I don't think anyone was "bashing" Katharine Hepburn. The person who wrote the original post was very mild-mannered, and I believe that I was quite careful to mention good things about her, and films of hers' that I liked. Oh, by the way, I forgot Holiday -good one.


I don't use any of the cyberspace devices you mention, and I love old movies and classic actors. Even the ones I don't care for, like Miss Hepburn, I still enjoy catching them on TCM.

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*Tracy had one of the most beautiful women in films...on the planet...when he starred with the beautiful Hedy Lamarr...* - CineMaven


Well, CineMaven, Fred, and others, I've always thought Katharine Hepburn was gorgeous . T'aint nothin' wrong with a skinny woman. I'm hearing Louis Prima singing "Closer to the Bone" in my head as I type this. :-)


And she was a mighty fine actress to boot. And that was a lovely tribute to her, CineMaven.


Edited by: patful on May 18, 2010 11:31 AM

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Cinemaven never said anyone here was bashing Katharine Hepburn, MissWonderly. She merely stated that it was popular to bash classic movie stars nowadays from the safety of a laptop.


Now back to the topic.


Anyone who thinks Katharine Hepburn was not a gifted actress should attempt to recreate one of her roles on stage. As an actress, I have for years tried in vain to work up scenes from The Lion in WInter, and I must say, I have never even come close to the fabulous line readings that Miss Hepburn gives in that film. I have not been able to create as rich a character on my own, nor have I been able to mimic _her_ performance satisfactorily. Try saying these lines out loud sometime with the spin Hepburn gives them:


Eleanor: What would you have me do? Give out? Give up? Give in?

Henry II: Give me a little peace.

Eleanor: A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now there's a thought.


You'll find it's harder than you think.

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I am not a huge fan but I do like her work. You listed one of the more wonderful lines in all her films. I love what she does in "The Lion In Winter."


Not all of her parts were meant to be all that appealing. "Summertime" does not show her as a glamorous woman. She is not supposed to be. In "The Philadelphia Story " she is mostly a pain in the neck. It is hard to like her.


I do like her work with Tracy and Grant. It seems she was a different kind of character when she worked with Tracy.


Other favorites include "Holiday," "State Of The Union," "Desk Set" and her part in "Rooster Cogburn."

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I saw Kate on the stage when I was 19 and it was indeed something special. The show was in LA and after the show she came out and talked. She mentioned that LA and her didn't have a 'love afair' but that really wasn't the case and that she had very special memories of the area and its people. It was night I'll never foget. To see someone of her talent live was a treat!


I do understand why many of the characters she played could get on someone's nerves; The way she spoke and the 'air' in which she carried herself. But this is also what makes her so special. Bogie said it best when he talked about her and the making of the Queen. Yes, in some ways she was a pain, but the pain was worth it!

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She's not one of my favorites, but she's maybe the most important woman ever in cinema.


She was independent and didn't take **** from anyone, which was different than the other stars who were slaves to the studio system for so long. Also, she did it while not being a traditional sex symbol, which inspired some other stars in later generations who aren't known for their looks (Meryl Streep)


Furthermore, she won 4 Oscars, which is more than any other actor/actress, and has made great films with some of the greatest leading men in Hollywood history.


It's one thing not to like her, but I don't get how anyone could fail to understand what made her famous. Those reasons I listed above and many others is why she's still held in such high esteem. Pretty self-explanatory I think.

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?Well, CineMaven, Fred, and others, I've always thought Katharine Hepburn was gorgeous. T'aint nothin' wrong with a skinny woman. I'm hearing Louis Prima singing ?Closer to the Bone? in my head as I type this.? - < patful >


Don?t just hear the great Louis Prima in your head, patful:




There were many times in films where I thought Katharine Hepburn was gorgeous as well. There?s a shot of her coming out of the Children?s Mission in her long coat in "Woman of the Year" where I thought Katharine looked ravishing. She?s gorgeous in ?The Philadelphia Story? and there is a shot from an interstitial that TCM ran a few years ago with Jeremy Irons' voice-over has him reading something by D.H. Lawrence as he talks about the movies in his best whispery British voice. Aaaaah. There is a shot of Hepburn (from ?Keeper of the Flame? if I?m not mistaken) that stopped me dead in my tracks.


"And she was a mighty fine actress to boot. And that was a lovely tribute to her, CineMaven." :-)


Why thank you pattycakes. :x


And Fred, that picture of Kate from "Sylvia Scarlett" shows her to be quite dashing. Thanx for the shot!


?I saw Kate on the stage when I was 19 and it was indeed something special.? -

< jamesjazzguitar >


You saw her in person too? Whoa! What?d you see her in? Which play?


?Not all of her parts were meant to be all that appealing. ?Summertime? does not show her as a glamorous woman.? - < movieman1957 >


Hepburn is unafraid. Or...I should say, whatever she feared, I believe she tackled head on. Good actresses who wanna stretch don?t always play roles that are appealing. Today?s young actresses could take a page out of Hepburn?s book; a page...any page. Methinks many have already...and many more should.


1957...a very good year.

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>Hepburn is unafraid. Or...I should say, whatever she feared, I believe she tackled head on.


Well said. It seems she was that way in her own life which I am sure she put into her characters. She clearly forged ahead with her characters no matter how nervous or reserved they may have seemed.


1957? I missed most of it but the last couple of months must have been ok.

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Aaaah, may I assume you are a Capricorn baby boomer or would that be a Scorpio or Sagittarius, though I think Hepburn would be okay with whatever Zodiac sign we are.


Edited by: CineMaven on May 18, 2010 2:51 PM - No...I don't presume to think for the Great Kate.

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I adore Katharine Hepburn now but not so much when I was younger. She was definitely an actress I had to grow into. She isn't traditionally pretty but I admire her for her personality and her intelligence.


As for my top 5 films she was in:


Bringing up Baby

Philadelphia Story

African Queen


The Lion in Winter


And well I still have a lot to see. The only thing is despite their real life romance I am not a big fan of the Hepburn/Tracy films.


edit: And also honorable mention to Holiday because that film is just so sweet,

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I don't know why I'm jumping into this again, but anyway: just wanted to address your comments about how KathArine Hepburn was unique in her independence and refusing to always go with "the system". Fair enough, I give her full credit for that. But she was definitely not the only one.


Several other female stars,of equal talent and appeal come to mind: Bette Davis, famous for her battles with the studios on various issues, Ida Lupino, a very intelligent actress who ended up directing, and Rosalind Russell, who played "career" women at a time when it was very unusual . I'm just saying Kate was not the only smart and independent actress of the Hollywood Golden Era. :)


Edited by: misswonderly on May 18, 2010 8:00 PM

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African Queen has her and Bogey as very plain looking old maid and hermit, and thats what gets us, just like Marty. We root for them to be together against the troubles of the river. State of the Union is Kate and Spencer and one man selling out his soul and family for political gain, and it's still a strong movie.

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Miss Wonderly,


Thanks for your response. I have tried to like her but she justs leaves me cold, and to open another can of worms, I am really not that crazy about Spencer Tracey either. He also seemd to always play the same type of character. I did like him in Broken Lance (one of my all time favoriter movies) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. I really like classic movies, especially the noir genre, but I am not an expert on classic movies, so I am probably missing small nuances in her performance that make her special. All I can say is that Katherine Hepburn really doesn't appeal to me. I am surprised that she has won so many Oscars. I feel bad saying it because she is such an icon in the world of film.

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