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Chosen by the American Film Institute as Hollywood’s #1 female screen legend, Katharine Hepburn left a celluloid legacy of more than 50 films spanning more than 60 years. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of this beloved screen icon, six of her films have been collected as a tribute to the versatility and range of this enduring star.
Hepburn won the first of her unprecedented four Best Actress Academy Awards® for 1933’s Morning Glory. (The other three were for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967, The Lion in Winter in 1968 and On Golden Pond in 1981.) Morning Glory was only Hepburn’s third film, and she was ideally cast as a young actress struggling to gain a foothold on the stage. As Eva Lovelace, Hepburn brought a mixture of innocence and ambition to the role, achieving a vulnerability that proved irresistible.
In 1936, Hepburn teamed for the first time with another screen legend, Cary Grant, in what proved to be one of the most unusual films of her career. In Sylvia Scarlett, the star spends most of her time masquerading as a boy! As she and her con man father (the always delightful Edmund Gwenn) flee the English countryside, she dons the disguise to elude the police, and the sight of young Hepburn in cropped hair and rakish clothing is still startling. Grant, in a role that did much to boost his Hollywood stock, plays another good-natured con that the pair meets along the road. A notorious flop at the time of its release, today Sylvia Scarlett is regarded as a genuine cult classic. It was the third of 10 films the star made under the direction of her good friend and mentor George Cukor. Hepburn and Grant would re-team three more times, culminating in the all-time classic The Philadelphia Story, again under Cukor’s direction.
Another unusual Hepburn film is 1944’s Dragon Seed, based on the famous book by Pearl S. Buck. Hepburn is cast as a Chinese(!) bride whose family struggles in the wake of the Japanese invasion, and to see those famous Hepburn cheekbones poking out from beneath false “Oriental” eyelids is just one of the film’s curiosities. Still, Dragon Seed was a top MGM production of its day, costarring another acting great, Walter Huston (father of director John, grandfather of actress Angelica) and veteran character actress Aline MacMahon, whose touching portrayal earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® nomination.
Next came the third of Hepburn’s nine legendary pairings with Spencer Tracy. 1945’s Without Love, a fast-paced comedy about a couple that enters into a platonic marriage, is also notable for a career-boosting appearance by young Lucille Ball, who more than holds her own with her formidable costars.
Undercurrent, a dark melodrama from 1946 directed by Vincente Minnelli, was the closest Hepburn ever came to appearing in film noir. She plays a young bride who begins to suspect her new husband (played by MGM matinee idol Robert Taylor) has murderous intentions. A top supporting cast includes a very young Robert Mitchum.
Completing this collection is the final film Hepburn and Cukor made together, a 1979 made-for-television production of the Emlyn Williams classic The Corn Is Green. Hepburn is ideally cast as the strong-willed schoolteacher who inspires a young Welshman to leave the coal mines and pursue a university education. Beautifully photographed on location, the film earned Hepburn an Emmy nomination for her spirited performance. Celebrate one of the most beloved stars of all time with the 6-disc Katharine Hepburn 100th Anniversary Collection.
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