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Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) is a progressively-minded political journalist. Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) is a sports writer with very traditional values. The only thing the two have in common woman of the year posteris that they both work for the same New York City newspaper. Despite an initial and mutual dislike, the two eventually fall in love and get married. When Tess wins the Woman of the Year award, traditional gender roles become flipped and their relationship suffers as a result.

Director: George Stevens
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Fay Bainter
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Runtime:  114 min
Rating: PG


By Louise Keller

There are many things to recommend this battle of the sexes film, not the least being the fact its script won best screenplay Oscar in 1943. It is the first (of nine) memorable on-screen collaborations between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, whose appeal lies in their differences. Made in 1942, the film's working woman theme is a progressive one; sparks fly in all directions as Hepburn's multi-lingual woman of the world Tess ('she won't talk to anybody who hasn't signed a non-aggression pact,') and Tracy's Samwoman of the year2 450 (he calls her the Calamity Jane of the fast international set) irk and are besotted by one another before trying to work it all out. Filled with witty lines and hilarious situations, the film is good entertainment, reminding us of Hepburn and Tracy's appeal

'Tess Harding is so busy telling the American people what to do, she's probably never taken the time to get out and meet some of them,' writes Sam in his sports column. So begins the sparing in-print relationship between the diplomat's daughter and the laid-back sports writer. The first sight Sam gets of the celebrity journalist/personality is one of a shapely leg; the attraction is immediate, and Sam begins Tess' 'real-life' education by taking her to her first baseball game. It is clear from the start that their lives and lifestyles are totally different. He thinks they are going on a date; she thinks he is going to drive her to the airport. Tess' favourite aunt Ellen Witcomb (Fay Bainter) advises her that 'success is no fun unless you share it with someone' woman of the yearand the whirlwind marriage (scheduled between engagements) results in a wedding night to remember, in which the marital bedroom is graced by a refugee, his bodyguards, an entourage and family and friends.

My favourite scene comes towards the end when Tess tries to win her way back into Sam's heart through his stomach. It is obvious that she has probably never even been in a kitchen before, let alone tried to cook, and the results are hilarious. Sam watches from the doorway as Tess (wearing a fur coat) finds imaginative ways to separate eggs, works out how to light the gas stove and tries to keep an oozing waffle under control. 'You don't think I can do all the ordinary things that any idiot can do?' Tess pleads, to which Sam pragmatically states: 'Because you're incapable.' Tracy and the ever-elegant Hepburn are at their prime in this delectable black and white film that gives romantic comedies a good name.