Without Love — directed by Harold Bucquet. Romantic Drama. An inventor looking for a place to work on an important WW II oxygen mask marries his landlady because neither of them are in love with one another. 111 minutes Black and White 1945.
“Perfectly believable as an actor, “Elia Kazan said of him, “completely unbelievable in the scene.” So the time has come to call into question, what sort of an actor Spencer Tracy was and just how good was he. Without Love is a good context to raise these questions in, and to raise the matter of whether he was really a better actor when he was not acting with Katharine Hepburn. This last is hard to tell, because she exerts a fascination of face, voice, and bearing that is as freakishly special as his is commonplace. Which means she draws focus whenever the two are on the screen together. So you don’t look at him. If you had to answer just What Is He you could say Just an ordinary American Joe, but if you asked the question, What Is She, you’d have to venture lots of answers. An actress and being of any depth would not be among them. And because she is not, she does not offer an occasion for depth in Tracy. He simply follows her suit, plays to her hand, defers to her gifts and lack of gifts, perhaps so as not to show them up and certainly also to level out with her into a balance of style and treatment of the material they shared. Here he plays a man who has been betrayed by a frightening floozy and has sworn off women. But do you ever feel his feelings have been hurt by this? Do you ever feel he is carrying around a wound? Do you ever feel what his relations to women might be, that he fears for himself in involving himself with one? No. You don’t. If he had supplied such a subtext, would that have defied the tone of Philip Barry’s play? What directs his choice to play the piece on the level he plays it – and he has a good many solo scenes particularly at the beginning? Does his swearing off women, off love, really ever cause him to wrangle inside himself, does it cause an interesting difficulty? Nope. He plays the story well he does not play the drama well. Perhaps he considered it beneath him. Was he just lazy? He is charming, fun, convincing, but he has nothing at stake. Katharine Hepburn made three movies of Philip Barry plays, all three of which she had already played in on Broadway. This was the last. Her experience with Without Love was an unhappy one, although it had a run. We find her good in some scenes, and not so hot in others. That she wears polka dot culottes is sometimes more interesting than her acting itself. And she a tendency to tremble that fine chin of hers and to confuse tears with depth of feeling, a habit that remained with her all her life. But she does a great monotone monologue in the proposal scene, and whenever she must be in command she is admirable. More than Tracy, she needs a good director and she does not have one. Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn, support them, and Felix Bressart is all an actor should be in the role of Tracy’s mentor. Without Love is a curious story for the two of them to engage in, for their relations were non-sexual by this time, and they remained without love for the rest of their intermittent lives together. Is this Film As Unconscious Memoir? This is the third of their pictures. After the first and best of them, Woman Of The Year, they were never sexual again on screen and, in eight more films, never kissed once