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Hollywood Romantic ComedyStates of the Union, 1934-65$
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Kathrina Glitre

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719070785

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719070785.001.0001

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Economy and excess: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

Economy and excess: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

5 (p.112) Economy and excess: Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Hollywood Romantic Comedy

Kathrina Glitre

Manchester University Press

This chapter is about the Hollywood actors Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who epitomised the adage that opposites attract. Sexual difference is not their only opposition: she is upper-class, while he is lower-class; she is liberal, he is conservative; she is Anglo-Saxon Protestant, he is Irish Catholic; she is intellectual, he has common sense. The various textual and extratextual discourses about the Hepburn/Tracy couple repeatedly work out this structural opposition through a process of moderation. Seemingly having nothing in common, Hepburn and Tracy's union symbolises the moderation of oppositional idiosyncrasies creating a stable equilibrium. The metaphor of economy and excess proves extremely useful in characterising this dynamic, but it also suggests a hidden gender essentialism: male as practical and rational, female as impractical and irrational—or the difference between a straight line and a spiral.

Keywords:   economy, excess, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, oppositional idiosyncrasies

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