Friday, 13 May 2011

Happy Belated Birthday to Kate the Great (or How I Think I Caused Blogger's Meltdown)

I’ve been sinfully busy these past few weeks and it wasn’t that I forgot that Kate Hepburn’s birthday was on Thursday (I’m not a heathen) but it wasn’t until the lovely Anna of Defiant Success asked me what my favourite Hepburn performance was that I decided to make anything big about it. Then, blogger started fucking with me. I swear, it's as if as soon as they knew I was planning something for Kate they decided to shut down. Is blogger secretly run by Meryl Streep and the ghost of Bette Davis and Ginger Rogers? They swallowed my original post, but I managed to write this one up....
I digress, though. I always thought that my favourite Kate performance was common knowledge to all. Whenever I hear the name of Our Lady Kate the first thing I think of is Eleanor Aquitaine.

“My, what a lovely girl. How could her king have left her?.”

I swear that image is imprinted in by brain, but then that could be said of almost any image from The Lion in Winter. I like to think that of all her post-50s performances (with the exception of Amanda Bonner, of course) Eleanor is the best example of Kate using her natural cadence to do fascinating work. I am not a believer in fate, but I think it is a perfect confluence that the brilliance of this woman just happens to be one of the roles she won her Oscar for. It is not a Tracy/Hepburn flick, but I always think of Spencer when I see it, if only because it's Kate's first performance after his death. And yet, the performance is strange. The very fact that it is so brilliant seems to defy logic because “great” acting is all about eschewing what one is usually like and transforming oneself. The thing is, Eleanor is Kate but Kate becomes Eleanor in the way that’s difficult to say where the character ends and the actor begins.

There’s a host of reasons why Kate has my undying devotion but it’s always that voice that gets me and it’s on full showcase here. Those caustic lines of Goldman allow her that opportunity to devastate, amuse, touch and even infuriate. And all to perfection.

“I dressed my maids as amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure, and I damn near died of windburn, but the troops were dazzled.”
Dazzled indeed.

And head over to these two great people who also chose to celebrate Kate's birthday:
Tom of Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog Lover, Movie Goer and Writer 
Joana of For Cinephiles by a Cinephile
Ben of Runs Like A Gay
and Anna wrote this great anecdote on Tracy Lords:

"When Katharine Hepburn comes to mind, I tend to think of Tracy Lord from The Philadelphia Story. She's snooty but at the same time you're drawn to her, curious on what makes her tick. Is it her impending wedding? Is it her ex-husband (Cary Grant) showing up? Is it the reporter (Jimmy Stewart) that came to cover the wedding? You'll just have to watch to find out."


MovieNut14 said...

:) You're welcome for the post idea and piece on Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.

Robert said...

I'm disgusted to say that I still have not seen The Lion in Winter. In fact, I'm still catching up on so much of Hepburn's filmography - but admittedly, it is a very enjoyable task!

Oh, and I laughed at the thought of Meryl Streep sabotaging your Kate post. Haha!

Simon said...

I couldn't get onto Blogger until now, oh, how sorry I am I missed dear Kate's birthday.

I wouldn't estimate how far the powers of Meryl Streep extend.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Thanks for the idea, certainly an actress worth celebrating.

Although consequent blogger meltdown a nightmare - here's my post: