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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Pat and Mike
Pat and Mike
Warner Bros.
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeff Shannon | posted April 27, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Features:Standard format (preserving the film's original 1.33:1 Academy aspect ratio). Audio tracks: English (mono). Subtitles: English and French. Production notes and two theatrical trailers.

The Movie
This was the seventh film to match the great romantic comedy team of Hollywood's golden age, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who were reuniting with director George Cukor and screenwriters Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, the team responsible for Tracy & Hepburn's popular "Adam's Rib" just three years earlier. And while this delightful comedy falls just a little short of "Adam's Rib," it's still one of the smoothest of the Tracy-Hepburn films, and puts a marvelous spin on the emergence of women in sports in the post-war era. Hepburn, of course, had defied Hollywood fashion for years by sporting pants in many of her roles and off-screen life, so she's perfect for the role of Pat Pemberton, an Ivy League physical education teacher who's a natural at golf, tennis, and a variety of other sports. This impresses sports promoter Mike Conovan (Tracy), who signs Pat up to a contract that will quickly make her a rising star on the golf and tennis circuits, despite the jinxing influence of Pat's dull but well-meaning finance (William Ching). Before long, things are warming up between Pat and Mike, even though he's a smooth operator with dubious ties to small-time hoods (one of them played by Charles Buchinski, later known to the world as Charles Bronson).

As usual with a Gordon/Kanin script and Cukor's silky-smooth direction, "Pat and Mike" is so gracefully engaging that you're charmed from start to finish. Of course, this is largely due to the beautiful chemistry of the co-stars, and they're superb in every scene, together or apart. A handful of celebrity athletes appear as themselves (including the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias), and this sunny, sporty comedy offers a fascinating look at the way golf and tennis were played in the early 1950's. Also enjoyable is Aldo Ray in a supporting role as Mike's other top client, a dimwit boxer who's the perfect example of the thick-skulled palooka. The briskly paced script deservedly earned an Oscar nomination, and as with any Tracy-Hepburn flick, this one's a polished gem, guaranteed to please anyone who enjoys classic Hollywood comedies.

The Picture
Warner Home Video can be counted on to do the best possible work with their transfers and mastering of vintage Hollywood films, and "Pat and Mike" is no exception. Still, it's often the case that black and white can look vaguely inconsistent or "grainy" depending on the contrasts of the scene, and that's evident here, but never to the degree where it's conspicuous or annoying. No matter how you cut it, Warner classics on DVD look as good as they possibly can, and any shortcomings can be attributed to the age of the source material. In any case, "Pat and Mike" looks fine on DVD, with no glaring faults.

The Sound
As with virtually every Warner DVD release from Hollywood's golden age, the English mono soundtrack is likely to exhibit audible hiss if volume is high, but "Pat and Mike" sounds remarkably clear and crisp throughout. To expect anything more would be senseless; this soundtrack has been well-preserved, and the DVD sounds impressive enough for a film that's nearly a half-century old.

The Extras
The usual. Like nearly all of the Warner titles, appropriate trailers are included (in this case two of them), and obligatory production notes to give some background on the famous Hepburn-Tracy legacy.

Conclusion
If you care at all about great Hollywood comedies, "Pat and Mike" should be considered a must-have DVD. Hepburn and Tracy will never go out of style, and the involvement of Cukor, Gordon, and Kanin makes this a first-rate classic with to-flight talent across the board. Buy it or rent it – you can't go wrong.
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