Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

WITHOUT LOVE | 1945 | Not Much Love from The Gray Lady Either

If I were you, I'd skip my WITHOUT LOVE post, and just read this New York Times review from 1945.  It's a bit too generous, but mostly spot on.

THE SCREEN; 'Without Love,' Starring Tracy and Hepburn, at Music Hall --'Pan-Americana' and 'Fury in the Pacific' Also Open Here
Published: March 23, 1945

You'd never have known it by the weather, but spring came to the Music Hall yesterday. It came in all the calla-lily splendor of an Easter stage spectacle and in the vernal atmosphere engendered by a new picture, called "Without Love." And, in case anyone has misgivings about that title's propriety in the spring, let us hasten to reassure you that you can just overlook the "without." For this is a high-class discussion of the season's most popular yen, and Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn do the talking in a most winning and witty style.

The talking, did we say? We said the talking—for the fact of the matter is that "Without Love" is pretty largely a linguacious exercise. Written by Donald Ogden Stewart from a stage play that Philip Barry wrote (and in which Miss Hepburn had previously appeared with conspicuous success), it is one of these conversational dramas in which the action chiefly flows on nimble words, spoken with smooth and saucy savour, and in which feats of little patter abound.

It is also one of those pictures in which the hand of the carpenter shows more conspicuously than is agreeable to the sharp and critical eye. There are several spots where the plot thickens only by virtue of some quickly borrowed glue. Mr. Stewart made some large-scale departures from Mr. Barry's play, but each time his only accomplishment seemed to be to get the picture out on a limb. From there the nervous transitions back to the original scene are abrupt and rather obvious. Charity begins
and stays—at home.

The story, with a nod to Mr. Barry, is that of a widowed girl who marries a love-weary scientist for the sake of convenience and nothing more. She has no desire to be unfaithful to the memory of her late lamented spouse, and he doesn't wish to be diverted from his experiments with an oxygen mask. But both are (comparatively) young and healthy, he is oddly inclined to walk in his sleep and she has the greatest difficulty keeping her feet warm on cold and lonesome nights. So one thing leads to another. There are rivals and confusions, of course. And—well, if you can't guess the ending, you can go to the theatre and be surprised.

Indeed, you should all go to the theatre, for, despite its gab and weaknesses in spots, "Without Love" is really most amusing. And that goes for its bright particular stars. Miss Hepburn gives a mischievous performance as the girl who really wants to be chased, and Mr. Tracy is charmingly acerbic when confronted with her cool or coy wiles. Keenan Wynn is delightfully diverting as a typical Barry souse and Lucille Ball throws the wise-cracks like baseballs as a good old wise-guy friend. The best to be said for the direction of Harold S. Bucquet is that he let the two stars go.

You can bet that this spring a lot of fancies are going to turn lightly to "Without Love."

Released: 1945
Director: Harold S. Bucquet
Leads: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lucille Ball
Writer: Philip Barry (play), Donald Ogden Stewart
Genre: Romantic Comedy (of the worst sort)