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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)



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More so than with any other actor, I almost always come away from a Spencer Tracy movie awed by his considerable talent, effortless style, and unique screen charisma. Yet were I to compliment him on his work face to face, he'd most likely scoff at me and uncomfortably dismiss the issue. So much of a natural was he, he may not have even understood what set his gift of acting apart from the crowd.

This retrospective, hosted by his nine-time co-star Katharine Hepburn, surveys his pinnacle-strewn career from start to finish. The Tracy-Hepburn combination is nothing short of perfect, so electric was their chemistry on screen, and they've gone down in cinematic history as one of the greatest movie duos of all time. Their best films, Woman of the Year and Adam's Rib among them, are classics.

Among his many other immortal greats are 1936's Libeled Lady, 1943's A Guy Named Joe, 1955's Bad Day At Black Rock, 1960's Inherit the Wind, and 1961's Judgment At Nuremberg. He earned an astounding nine Oscar nominations throughout his career and won two of them, for 1937's Captains Courageous and 1938's Boys' Town. (Until 1994, no other actor had won two Oscars in consecutive years.)

Tracy died shortly after completion of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner in 1967, and the world was poorer for it. Yet his films remain, a surprising number of them timeless classics. This documentary does a fine job in chronicling Tracy's prolific career, and I strongly recommend it to Tracy fans or to those who'd like to be introduced to one of the finest film actors of all time.