Without Love (1945): Philip (Phialdelphia Story) Barry’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn

Based on a 1942 play by Philip Barry (who also wrote Holiday and The Philadelphia Story), Without Love is not one of the best teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, who made nine films together, spanning 1942 to 1967.

Our Grade: B- (** out of *****)

This romantic comedy is directed by Harold S. Bucquet from a screenplay by Oscar winner Donald Ogden Stewart, who also scripted the far superior 1940 comedy, The Philadelphia Story.

Without Love was the third film to co-star Hepburn and Tracy, and the last film to be directed by Bucquet.

Hepburn plays lonely widow Jamie Rowan, who helps the war effort by marrying a military research scientist, Patrick Jamieson (Tracy), who has set up his lab in her Washington, D.C. house.

The couple differ: They both believe that a marriage could be a success without love, as it reduces the chances of jealousy and bickering and other marital disadvantages.

Predictably, however, as the story progresses, the inevitable happens and they fall in love hard with each other.

As a movie, Without Love is too static, lacking the wit, humor and wisecracks of The Philadelphia Story.

Even so, the chemistry between the stars is evident and the acting is mostly good, even if Hepburn is a tad too mannered.

Among some dubious merits, you will get a chance to see Hepburn, elegantly dressed in long white dress, playing the piano and singing in French.

In the last scene, Tracy also takes to the piano, but plays uniquely American songs, such as “The Boy Next Door” (from Minnelli’s 1944 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis).

Despite mixed reviews (there is more talk than action), the movie was popular at the box-office. Made on a budget of $1.8 million, it earned $2.7 million in the U.S. and $1.1 million in foreign countries, resulting in a profit of about $600,000.

Theatrical Origins

The Barry stage play, written specifically for Hepburn, debuted on Broadway’s St. James Theater in 1942. On stage, Hepburn played Jamie Rowan with actor-writer-director Elliott Nugent as Patrick Jamieson, Spencer Tracy in the movie.  Audrey Christie played the Lucille Ball role of Kitty Trimble.

Running time: 111 Minutes

Released Date:

March 22, 1945