Today (or rather, tonight) I am contributing to the Katharine Hepburn Blog-a-thon over at Encore Entertainment. Better late than never!
I’ve already written extensively about several of Hepburn’s greatest performances, ranging from Bringing Up Baby to The African Queen. So rather than produce something boring (for me at least, maybe not for you) and already done, I’m instead focusing on the beginning of my relationship with/connection to/utter fascination with Katharine Hepburn.
If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning in 2005 (and unless you are my mother, I highly doubt anyone from those days still reads FCBAC) then you have probably encountered my now infamous Katharine Hepburn story. When I was a sophomore in high school–15, shy, awkward and a misfit–my mother told me watch some Katharine Hepburn movies: Bringing Up Baby and The African Queen. I did and I was hooked. I began making lists of all the films I had to see. Thanks to the American Film Institute, I knew where to start. The rest is history. I watched tons of movies in high school and am about to graduate from Mount Holyoke with a BA in Film Studies.
People have since told me that it is odd that those two movies sparked my interest in film. Perhaps it would be more fitting and understandable if I saw a Godard film or a Bergman or a Bresson, and that is what started it all. But I didn’t. I saw one of Kate’s and, to quote Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference.”
In preparation for this blog-a-thon, I revisited my first post on this blog; it’s strange and incredibly embarrassing to read what I wrote when I was 16 and thought I knew everything (EVERYTHING) about the cinema. Here it is:
I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and create a blog. But instead of making it about my life and what I do ( which is pretty nothing anyway), I’ve decided to make this blog about movies, whether if it’s a classic, current, foreign, or just really bad , I’ll talk about them. Reviews, opinions, grips whatever…
Here’s a little about me and my obsession with cinema… I watch movies, a lot of movies. That’s the easiest way to describe it. I’ve seen over 500 films, mostly in the last 2 years. It all started during Oscar time and my mom told me to watch two Katharine Hepburn movies (Bringing up Baby and The African Queen) and I was hooked. Its grown into this teeny tiny obsesson that I must share with anyone who will listen because my parents have banned me from speaking about movies to them ever again.
This grammatically incorrect, horrifically misspelled, and filled with my know-it-all film buff attitude was how I began my now four-year-old blog. As embarrassing as it to read this now, it is still amazing to me how my discovery of Katharine Hepburn has led me to a life of watching and writing about movies. When I was 15 and a typical high school outsider, I never would have imagined the world of cinema I know, understand, appreciate and love now.
Merely two days later, I posted about Katharine Hepburn again. This time I went more in-depth about my love for Katharine Hepburn’s films. I even posted about the day I spent as a prospective student at Bryn Mawr College. Rather than spend that blisteringly hot August day on my couch watching a Katharine Hepburn marathon (it was Summer under the Stars on TCM), I spent it touring Hepburn’s alma mater, thinking maybe I could go there too.
The possibility of me getting into Bryn Mawr with my barely-breaking-1000 SAT score, is slim to none. And I realize this and I’ve accepted it. So the real reason why I went to Bryn Mawr was because it is the closest I will ever get to Katharine Hepburn without coming across stalkerish. (Can you even stalk a dead person)
So, there I was, walking on the campus where Katharine Hepburn once was and I recognized landmarks from pictures of her from her Bryn Mawr days. I was in cinephile heaven and I was really enjoying it too
… at least until the admissions lady messed up some Katharine Hepburn facts… She said that a Bryn Mawr graduate is the first and only American woman to ever win four academy awards… which is completely true but 1) she didn’t even bother to mention Hepburn’s name. She said something like “I’ll let you figure out who that was on your own” and 2) the way the lady phrased it really undermined Hepburn’s achievement as an actress. She made it seem like other people aside from Hepburn had accomplished the same feat and not just anyone… but an actor.
Ignoring my little rant about the admissions woman “messing up some Katharine Hepburn facts” (I don’t even recall this happening) and, once again, how I was an irritating movie know-it-all, it is funny how I was willing to attend a college just because Katharine Hepburn went there. I ended up not going to Bryn Mawr, but not because of whatever judgement I made about that school because of a Katharine Hepburn factoid faux-pas. It didn’t (at least at the time) have a decent film program. Ironic, isn’t it?
These two posts from early on in my blogging career show something very fundamental about who I am – a Katharine Hepburn fanatic. My love for this one actress and her work has influenced me in an unmeasurable way. I highly doubt I would be studying film today had I not discovered Bringing Up Baby a mere seven years ago. More than anything, I think about who I was when I was 15. Although it is not wise to compare your current self to your high school self, I find myself doing it more than ever recently (thank you impending college graduation and “real world”). I was a shy and awkward misfit back in the day. I didn’t think I was smart and there was nothing that made me stand out among my classmates (or so I thought). But Katharine Hepburn films, and just film in general, gave me something that I could completely invest myself in (especially when everything else, frankly, sucked) and my passion for film made me stand out (just a little).
I’m sometimes still that shy and awkward misfit today; I’ve just learned to mask it better. And when it really comes down to it, Katharine Hepburn films are still the best way for me break away from everything. As much as I love the Cinema, from Hollywood to the avant-garde, at the center of everything that is great about the cinema, for me, is Katharine Hepburn.
Always has been. Always will be.
Since this post is incredibly sappy…here are my top 5 Katharine Hepburn films.
1. Bringing Up Baby
2. The African Queen
3. Woman of the Year
4. Stage Door
5. Adam’s Rib