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Pat And Mike (Blu-ray Review)

One of Hollywood’s most legendary and electric onscreen and offscreen couples of all time were Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. The duo starred in a total of nine films together from 1942’s Woman of the Year all the way to 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, with the run only ending due to the death of Tracy that same year. As a couple they were their own brand and franchise and have seldom been match or had anything like it in the history of cinema before and after. Warner Archive Collection will be bringing two of their classics to Blu-ray for the first time in August, 1945’s Without Love and 1952’s Pat and Mike. This review will be taking a look at the sports romantic comedy Pat and Mike that also stars Aldo Ray and has smaller roles filled by the likes of later stars Charles Bronson and Chuck Connors. You can pre-order the film now and find it available on Warner Archive Collection’s own shop for release on August 25th.

Film

Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn), a college athletics instructor, enters a number of golf matches against female professionals. She holds her own until her well-meaning but condescending fiancé, Collier Weld (William Ching), turns up at the games and distracts her. Sports manager Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy) sees her talent and offers to train her. After realizing that Pat stops trying when Collier is around, Mike works to keep them apart — especially when he begins to develop feeling for her.

Pat and Mike finds Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn locked into the wide world of sports as well as a more seedier side of the professional athletic world. Its pretty much the backdrop and fuel to ignite them to pick up and do what they do best. Their roles and character occupations may be different, but the chemistry the two share is all familiar and so natural. The whipper-snapper charm and exchanges are all too fun, endearing and fun to watch, it never almost even matters what the film is about.

One standout aspect of the film comes twofold in the sports on display; golf and tennis. First, Katharine Hepburn performed her own scenes of athleticism featured in the movie. Its said that the film was written in part to showcase here abilities onscreen at the behest of her or someone who was wanting to open that door for her. And she is wickedly convincing and even more impressive as they play out. She has vicious golf swing, exceptional putting and a sniping racket stroke.

Beyond Hepburn’s drop shot or uncanny ability to get out of a sand trap, the filmmaking that is delivering this coverage is absolutely top notch. It almost feels like its potentially a game changer, though I cannot back that up as my recollection and immediate familiarity with sports films of the era is foggy/spotty. From the way its edited, to the longer takes and shots showcasing real and impressive ability with no tricks, you can’t help but feel wow’ed at what you’re seeing from Hepburn as well as the co-stars/competitors she is facing. The balance of cuts/continuation and wide shots letting things play really gets you into a match and feels so natural and like a perfect hybrid of watching cinema and sport.

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy plug in to Pat and Mike and really polish and shine and already interesting and fun script. It features an interesting angle, wonderful gender expectation switcheroos and fun comedy. There is also a late few scenes that feature Charles Bronson and Chuck Connors as a goon and a copy respectively. If you’re into classic Hollywood romantic comedies, this one fits the bill with a nice unique flavor mixed with a winning, proven actor formula.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Pat and Mike arrives on Blu-ray with a brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative.  I can’t imagine the film looking much better than this on the standard Blu-ray format. There is a nice clarity and sharpeness to this, while retaining a healthy amount of grain and no signs of tampering DNR tomfoolery. It looks absolutely lovely, with a gorgeous black and white presentation featuring wonderful texture and plenty of clear details in a loose and open feeling image.

Depth:  Spacing is quite well done with a very nice pushback showing in interiors while scale is very impressively displayed in the exterior scenes as well as the tennis matches. Characters move in a nice, classic cinematic manner with no issues resulting from motion blur or jittering.

Black Levels:  Black levels are deep and pretty close to natural levels. They provide a good amount of shadow and help with the definition of many characters and objects in any given scene. Details and textures come through mostly well, no matter how dark and important information is in no way in danger of being lost. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are a white/gray and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the film and in all variations of lighting. Facial features and textures come through best in close up shots and medium ones, but fair pretty well in any distance and showcase reasonable amounts of feature with modest expectations.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Pat and Mike carries a very nice, quaint mono track that is likely the original theatrical mix and also carries that original theatrical flair. It has a little bit of that analog/vinyl hiss that sets as a nice base for the film and provides only nostalgic charm is no distraction. There is a terrific balance of vocals and effects to go along with a handsome score when it appears. Effects have a nice boost in volume when at the forefront so you can get a good sting when a club hits a golf ball or a racket swats a tennis ball.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and the more prominent star in the mix. With a little analog hiss behind it, it feels of its time in a very welcoming manner.

Extras

Teaser Trailer (SD, :57)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:36)

Summary

Pat and Mike is a nice, fluffy and enjoyable film that just showcases the adoration of Hepburn and Tracy while also feeling like it was a bit of a landmark in the technical aspects of sports films. Warner Archive Collection has given the film a beautiful new transfer and clean audio in its debut. Unfortunately, the only extras available are two trailers, but said trailers are actually quite neat and showcase a real time capsule of how differently a film was sold to audiences in the 1950s. For those looking to craft their Tracy/Hepburn collections and have them all, this is a terrific purchase on film and presentation alone.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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