Watching Classics

I’ve been watching old movies from the library and some have been interesting.  Woman of the Year (1942) fascinated me on many levels.

This movie was a contemporary romance seventy years ago and yet, the themes and tropes of a romantic comedy are still the same as what makes a good story today. The sexual tension between “Sam Craig” and “Tess Harding” practically jumps off the screen, even when watched in black-and-white.

The movie The Aviator (2004) includes the story of the romance between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn when it began with Woman of the Year. They continued their affair for 25 years.  It was a quiet scandal which was possible then. Yet watching the movie triggered a memory from childhood.

I think Spencer Tracy was my dad’s favorite actor and I know my mom admired Katharine. I was about seven when Spencer died and my mom told me the story about these two stars having an affair even though he was a Catholic married man with children. The reason mom told me about it was because it was news that Katharine would not attend Spencer’s funeral as that was for the Tracy family and she would not intrude.

My mom totally approved of that sentiment. She wouldn’t condone an affair with a married man, but those Hollywood people had questionable values. However, it was classy and admirable that Katharine would honor the Tracy family by remaining absent from the funeral.

What I found most fascinating was the “Tess Harding” character early in the movie addressing a room full of women (all wearing fancy hats) for not being more responsible about how they used the power of their vote “these past 20 years.” I wonder what “Tess” would say about that today.

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