Oscar History

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Dec 10 2014

A Year with Kate: This Can't Be Love (1994)

Episode 50 of 52:In which Katharine Hepburn starred in a movie with Jason Bateman,which will make every game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon you play significantly easier.

This is it.We've reached the final year of Katharine Hepburn's career.Did Kate know that the three films she made in 1994 would be her last?Did she feel herself slowing down and decide that sixty two years in the spotlight were enough?Since she made no official announcement,it's impossible to know Kate's reasons for sure.Still,considering this was Kate's last starring role,This Can't Be Lovefeels like a retirement announcement.

Kate's first final film wasThis Can't Be Love,another TV movie starring Katharine Hepburn as Katharine Hepburn.Actually,she plays Marion Bennett,a world-renowned,Academy Award-winning actress who eschews public life and spends a lot of time being loveably grouchy to her chauffeur (an adorable puppydog-ish Jason Bateman).In Bennett's younger days,she'd had a torrid offscreen affair with her co-star Michael Reyman (Anthony Quinn).Umpteen years later,Reyman has re-entered Marion's life,but his intentions are more than merely amorous...

It's a formula we know well by now,so let's just settle in and enjoy it.Sprinkle the script with references to Kate's career,add bits of Quinn's womanizing past,mix in an opposites attract romance that sounds almost-but-not-quite-unlike Tracy & Hepburn,shake vigorously,and let the sophomoric senior squabbling begin.I actually considered making a drinking game out of counting Katharine Hepburn meta-references,but realized I'd get alcohol poisoning in the first hour.The African Queen,her brother Tom,Coco,her childhood nickname "Jimmy,"Song of Love,and evenRooster Cogburnget a shoutout.My favorite comes from Kate directly.It's a bit of dialog meant to echo the statue metaphor fromThe Philadelphia Story...

He put me on a pedestal.Good view,but awfully lonely up there."

The major difference betweenThis Can't Be Loveand Kate's earlier romantic comedies is that whereas before it had always been Kate who was the agent of chaos,whether as dippy Susan Vance or dynamic Tess Harding,in This Can't Be Love it is Anthony Quinn who spins poor Kate's world topsy turvy.Quinn's native acting style is more theatrical than Kate's,and director Anthony Harvey uses every opportunity to remind the audience of Quinn's brief romantic "desert sheik"phase.This includes a scene where Quinn jumps on a table,sword in hand,and challenges his book editor to a duel.

The film needs ridiculous scenes like Quinn on the tabletop,because the honest truth is that Kate can't carry a movie on her own anymore.Her eighty eight years are showing.She's a little slower,a lot shakier,and maybe not quite as sharp as she'd been even two years before.Still,I admire her sheer stubbornness.Of course the woman who jumped in a hot air balloon,filmed when she got dysentery,and bought her contract out when RKO tried to bury her would keep making movies when her contemporaries had retired.Hepburn's last two films would be cameo appearances which would pay tribute to her celebrity without overtaxing her.After six decades of stardom,Kate was taking a victory lap.

Previous Week:The Man Upstairs(1992) - In which Katharine Hepburn,octogenarian and award-winning legend,wrestles a convict and wins.

Next Week:Love Affair(1994) - In which Katharine Hepburn gives her blessing to Annette Bening and my inner actressexual weeps with joy.(Available on Amazon Instant Video)

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Reader Comments (7)

Anne Marie-is this the film where they show a bunch of Oscars on her shelf and she says something like "oh,亚博主页I think that there's another one around here"or something like that?I saw this when it originally aired so my memory of it is obviously fuzzy,but I distinctly remember relishing it,as 1994 was the first year I even knew what an Oscar was.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Just as you said Anne Marie this was a basic recapping of some of Kate career highlights but a sweet movie and Jason Bateman was so young and puppy doggish!

I'm relying very much on memory since I haven't seen the movie since it's original showing and all I could find was a preview clip and a small mini interview with Jason Bateman about working with Kate to refresh.I recall Quinn being a somewhat more relaxed version of his usual big expansive self which was welcome since I usually find him a bit much.As with most of these final films Kate teams with someone you wouldn't naturally think of her in context with and she and Quinn are quite different in temperament but they melded just fine.

Sorry we're nearing the end of the series it's been so fun and interesting.You've done an awesome job each week Anne Marie of finding something engaging about each film,even the stinkers.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Thank you for this.A much needed break from awards mania (More to come tomorrow and I'm already exhausted.).

I need to find this one.Sounds like fun when you just want to enjoy a bit of fluff.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

John T - Yes!The cook complains that she keeps putting the Oscars on display,亚博主页and "Marion"keeps hiding them in strange places like the pantry.This is honestly a story I hope is true,because I love the idea of a guest at Fenwick looking for scissors and finding the Oscar forThe Lion in Winterinstead.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

I think that the bombastic Quinn can keep the Legend in place....though in a different way than Tracy or Olivier.I would love to see the clip of swordplay on the table (Quinn also had a few pirate roles).Not having seen it,could it harken back to My Favorite Year?
I rechecked;the director is Anthony Harvey who directed Lion and Winter AND Grace Quigley.She was certainly loyal to those who supported her best.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to these last few films,I avoid them because I hate to see such Hepburn's physical fraility.I like to remember her as she was when she was younger and stronger.Kudos to you for continuing on to the finish line.

December 10,2014 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Anne Marie--your writing is killing me softly with Kates song.Ohhhhweww Sublime,thank you.

December 11,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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