Woman of the Year
- This article is about the film. For the musical adaptation, see Woman of the Year (musical). For the Parks and Recreation episode, see "Woman of the Year" (Parks and Recreation)
|Woman of the Year|
|Directed by||George Stevens|
|Produced by||Joseph L. Mankiewicz|
|Written by||Ring Lardner Jr.
John Lee Mahin
Garson Kanin (original idea)
|Music by||Franz Waxman|
|Editing by||Frank Sullivan|
|Release date(s)||19 January 1942|
|Running time||114 min.|
|Box office||$1,937,000 (US rentals)|
Woman of the Year (1942) is a romantic comedy film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. The movie is about an emancipated woman, chosen "Woman of the Year", and her colleague-turned-husband and their efforts to negotiate a path to marital bliss.
The supporting cast features Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Minor Watson and William Bendix. The picture was directed by George Stevens, produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and written by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin (his brother Garson Kanin thought up the original idea and worked with Katharine Hepburn along with brother Michael and Lardner on the early drafts, without credit.) The music score was by Franz Waxman and the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. The art direction was by Cedric Gibbons and Randall Duell and the costume design by Adrian.
Woman of the Year won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 1999, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Sam Craig (Spencer Tracy) and Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) are journalists for the same New York newspaper in the early 1940s. Tess, the daughter of a diplomat (Minor Watson), is an internationally inclined political affairs columnist, a polyglot educated in various prestigious European universities who has traveled the world (based on reporter Dorothy Thompson). Meanwhile, Sam is an everyman sportswriter.
A feud in their columns, over baseball, develops into romance, love, and marriage, despite their different backgrounds and worlds. When Sam invites her on a date to a baseball game, Tess inadvertently breaks the "men only" atmosphere of the press box, and is initially confused and unfamiliar with the rules of the sport, before enjoying herself and befriending other spectators.
After Sam and Tess marry, a conflict arises over Tess's priorities and Sam's place in her life. They have several minor disagreements, but a bigger problem occurs when Tess is coerced to take on the care of a Greek refugee child Chris (George Kezas) without having a chance to consult Sam. When Sam initially believes Tess is pregnant with their child, he is thrilled, but upon meeting Chris, he is at first unconvinced about taking on an unrelated orphan with whom he cannot even communicate. Still, he tries to befriend the boy as much as he can, and introduces him to sports.
Tess learns that she has received the award of "Woman of the Year", to be given to her at a fancy ceremony. That evening, Sam wonders who will be looking after the boy, and is unsatisfied with her answer of "I'll ask one of the elevator boys to look in on him." Sam decides to stay home to look after Chris. Tess is upset—she wants him to be beside her on her big night, and is embarrassed at the thought that the public will wonder where he is. Sam says she can tell everyone he had more important plans, and Tess accidentally offends him by asking whether anyone would believe that Sam could find something more important to do. After Tess leaves, Sam tells Chris to dress and pack. While Tess is at her ceremony, Sam returns the child to the home for Greek refugee children and walks out on the marriage. Tess only learns of this upon her return, when she goes to change for photographers only to discover the men and their belongings are all missing. She attempts to go reclaim Chris, but he refuses (because he wants to stay with his friends—fellow refugees).
The next day, Tess receives an invitation, addressed to both of them, to go to the home of her father and the aunt who raised her (Fay Bainter). However, Sam is covering a championship boxing match that evening and tells her he cannot go. Tess arrives alone, only to be told that her aunt and her father are to be married that night, after 15 years of "making the same mistake" and saying nothing of their attraction. Listening to the words of the wedding ceremony encourages Tess to attempt a reconciliation with Sam.
She enters Sam's new riverside home the next morning and starts to prepare breakfast. Sam is eventually woken by her noisy incompetence in the kitchen, and comes to watch her. She proclaims her new intention of being nothing more than his wife and thinking only of his domestic needs, but he believes it is an insincere tactic to win him back. Trying to prove herself, Tess once again tries to cook breakfast, only to fail because she knows nothing of cooking.
Sam tells her this is the first time he is disappointed in her—for going to extremes. He says to her he does not want Tess Harding or "just little Mrs. Craig", but can't she be Tess Harding Craig? Tess happily agrees, and they reconcile. Gerald, Tess' inconsiderate secretary (Dan Tobin), arrives with a bottle of champagne and reminds Tess of her commitment to launch a ship at 8:30 am. Sam takes Gerald outside, the bottle smashes, and Sam returns claiming to have launched Gerald.
- Spencer Tracy as Sam Craig
- Katharine Hepburn as Tess Harding
- Fay Bainter as Ellen Whitcomb
- Reginald Owen as Clayton
- Minor Watson as William J. Harding
- William Bendix as "Pinkie" Peters
- Gladys Blake as Flo Peters
- Dan Tobin as Gerald Howe
- Roscoe Karns as Phil Whittaker
- William Tannen as Ellis
- Ludwig Stössel as Dr. Lubbeck
- Sara Haden as Matron
- Edith Evanson as Alma
- George Kezas as Chris
Background and production 
The outline for the film was developed by Garson Kanin, a close friend of Hepburn. Hepburn then passed the outline on to Joseph L. Mankiewicz at MGM, and said the price was $250,000 - half for her, half for the script. He liked it and agreed to produce the movie. Kanin was fighting in the war at the time, so the script was written by his brother, Michael Kanin, and mutual friend Ring Lardner, Jr. Hepburn contributed significantly to the script - reading it, suggesting cuts and word changes, and generally providing helpful enthusiasm for the project. As a part of the deal, Hepburn was allowed to select her co-star and director (Tracy and Stevens).
Woman of the Year was the first of nine films Hepburn and Tracy made together. They met for the first time on the shoot. In the 1993 documentary Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, Hepburn herself says she was wearing high heels at the first meeting with Tracy and producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and said "I'm afraid I'm a bit tall for you, Mr. Tracy". Mankiewicz then responded, "Don't worry, Kate, he'll cut you down to size." It was during the filming of Woman of the Year that Hepburn and Tracy became romantically involved - a relationship that lasted until Tracy's death in 1967.
The film was originally shot with a different ending, but it proved unpopular at test screenings. The decision was made to change it, and the final fifteen minutes of the film were re-written and shot. The original ending of the film saw Sam go missing (after he had left the child at the orphanage) while he was meant to be writing an article about an upcoming boxing match. Tess decides to take over for him, and visits the gym to learn about the fight. Sam is found in a language school trying to learn French and Spanish, to "be important", and is shocked when he sees the article. He goes to the fight where he meets Tess. She insists that she did it to be a good wife, and says she will change and do all the things she is supposed to do. He says that he doesn't want either extreme, he just wants her to be "Tess Harding Craig" (like in the released ending.)
Ring Lardner Jr describes in Archive of America Television oral history interviews (2000) that changes made to the ending of the film were against the wishes of Katherine Hepburn, whilst both screenwriters were on vacation in New York. These changes were made by Louis B Mayer, producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz and director George Stevens. "She had to get her comeuppance for being too strong in a man's world so they wrote a scene where she tried to fix breakfast... and gets everything wrong", said Lardner. The screenwriters were given some room to rewrite the new ending on return from New York, and in the same interview Lardner recalls "some of the worst lines we rewrote, but we couldn't fix it, we couldn't change it fundamentally"
Awards and honors 
At the 15th Academy Awards
- Nomination for Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn)
- Win for Best Original Screenplay (Michael Kanin and Ring Lardner, Jr.)
American Film Institute recognition
- James Curtis, Spencer Tracy: A Biography, Alfred Knopf, 2011 p457
- Variety film review; January 14, 1942, page 8.
- Harrison's Reports film review; January 17, 1942, page 10.
- Hepburn, Katharine (1991). Me: Stories of My Life. New York: Knopf. p. 400. ISBN ISBN 0-679-40051-6.
- Hepburn (1991), p. 243.
- Kanin, Garson (1971). Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir. New York: Viking. p. 81. ISBN 0-670-72293-6.
- "Interview with Ring Lardner, Jr". On Writing (The Writers Guild of America, East, Inc) 7. August 1997. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
- Archive of American Television - EMMY TVLEGENDS Ring Lardner interview 2000
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Woman of the Year|
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