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This article is about the film. For the musical adaptation, see Woman of the Year (musical).
Woman of the Year

VHS cover
Directed by George Stevens
Produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written by Ring Lardner Jr.
Michael Kanin
John Lee Mahin
Garson Kanin (original idea)
Starring Spencer Tracy
Katharine Hepburn
Fay Bainter
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing by Frank Sullivan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Release date(s) 19 January 1942
Running time 114 min.
Language English
Budget $3,000,000

Woman of the Year (1942) is a romantic comedy film in which an emancipated woman, chosen "Woman of the Year", and her colleague-turned-husband try to negotiate a path to marital bliss . The film stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn with Fay Bainter, Reginald Owen, Minor Watson and William Bendix. It was directed by George Stevens, produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and written by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin (his brother Garson Kanin thought up the original idea and worked with Katharine Hepburn along with brother Michael and Lardner on the early drafts, without credit.) The music score was by Franz Waxman and the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. The art direction was by Cedric Gibbons and Randall Duell and the costume design by Adrian.

Woman of the Year won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 1999, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".



Sam Craig and Tess Harding (Tracy and Hepburn) are journalists for the same New York newspaper in the early 1940s. Tess, the daughter of a diplomat, is an internationally inclined political affairs columnist, a polyglot educated in various prestigious European universities who has traveled the world. He is an everyman sportswriter who worked his way up.

A feud in their columns, specifically over baseball, develops into romance, love, and marriage, despite their different backgrounds and worlds. At a baseball game, Tess breaks the men only rule in the press box, but is confused and unfamiliar with the rules of the sport.

After their quickly conducted marriage, a conflict arises over having children. Tess takes on the care of a Greek refugee child without consulting her husband, and accidentally leading Sam into believing that she is pregnant. He is thrilled at the thought of biological children, but unconvinced about taking on an orphan with whom he cannot even communicate.

On the evening of her award as 'Woman of the Year', Sam wonders who will be looking after the boy, and is unsatisfied with her answer of "I'll ask one of the bellboys to look in on him". Sam decided to stay home, wounding Tess - she wants him to be beside her on her big night, and is embarrassed at the thought that the public will wonder where he is. Tess insensitively queries whether anyone would believe that Sam could find something more important to do than attend her dinner. That evening he returns the child to the home for Greek refugee children and walks out on the marriage (Tess makes an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim custody of the boy later).

Tess invites Sam to the home of her father and the aunt who raised her, but he claims to be covering an important boxing match on the same evening. When Tess arrives alone, she is told that the aunt and her father are to be married that night, after fifteen years of "making the same mistake" and saying nothing of their attraction. Listening to the words of the wedding ceremony encourages Tess to attempt a reconciliation.

She illicitly gains entry to Sam's new riverside home the next morning and starts to prepare breakfast. Sam is eventually woken by her noisy manual incompetence in the kitchen. She proclaims her new intentions of being a perfect wife to him, which he rebuffs and challenges. Trying to prove herself, Tess once again takes up the creation of breakfast, only to roundly fail. Sam berates her for always going to extremes, telling her he doesn't want Tess Harding OR Mrs Craig, but can't she be Mrs Tess Harding-Craig? To which Tess happily agrees that she can. Gerald, Tess' inconsiderate secretary, arrives with a bottle of champagne and reminds Tess of her commitment to launch a ship at 8.30am. Gerald is taken outside by Sam, a bottle is heard being smashed and Sam returns claiming to have launched Gerald.


  • This is the first of nine films Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were to make together. They met for the first time on this shoot. In the 1993 documentary Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, Hepburn herself says she was wearing high heels at the first meeting with Tracy and producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and said "I'm afraid I'm a bit tall for you, Mr. Tracy". Mankiewicz then responded, "Don't worry, Kate, he'll cut you down to size."
  • Hepburn's character of Tess Harding is widely thought to be based on American journalist Dorothy Thompson.

Awards and honors

American Film Institute recognition

External links



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