Keeper Of The Flame

  • 1942
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

This is an offbeat gothic drama with elements of mystery, that would be nothing more than a muddle if not for the compelling presence of Tracy and Hepburn. Tracy, a war correspondent, is assigned to write the life story of Robert V. Forrest (never seen), an American patriot who has died in an accident, driving his car through an open bridge. The widow,...read more

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This is an offbeat gothic drama with elements of mystery, that would be nothing more than a muddle if not for the compelling presence of Tracy and Hepburn. Tracy, a war correspondent, is assigned to write the life story of Robert V. Forrest (never seen), an American patriot who has died in

an accident, driving his car through an open bridge. The widow, Hepburn, has shut herself up in a great house, becoming a recluse, yet Tracy is able to penetrate her mourning state and gets her to talk about her hero husband. She agrees to help Tracy reconstruct her husband's life. Tracy begins to

feel that all is not right when he overhears Hepburn carrying on a conversation with Hickman that makes him suspect that she had a hand in her husband's death. Slowly, working on Hepburn, he unravels the true nature of the greatly admired deceased man. He was no hero at all and this is evident

when Tracy follows Hepburn to a private retreat on the estate, one which reveals the dead man's love for fascism, not democracy. Here Hepburn admits the real insidious nature of her husband. Tracy accuses her of murdering her spouse, which she denies. But she does admit that she knew that the

bridge was out and purposely failed to warn him, preferring to have him die than to go on living and attempting to build a neo-fascist organization. She wishes to preserve the good name of her dead husband and so she sets fire to the retreat, dying in the flames while Tracy survives to write the

true story.

Both Hepburn and Tracy complained to MGM's front office during the production of this film that writer Stewart was reshaping the script as anti-fascist propaganda; they were certainly anti-facist but they did not want the film to be turned into a blatant propaganda piece. Given the success of

WOMAN OF THE YEAR, where Tracy and Hepburn were first teamed together, MGM felt they could put this couple into any vehicle and it would work. KEEPER OF THE FLAME did work but not as well as other films in which the duo appeared. Even the accomplished Cukor could do little more than give the film

an impressive buildup in the first half for the slow letdown at the end. He later admitted that the film had a "certain wax-works" feel about it. This was the first film Tracy did with Cukor, known as a "ladies' director," one who fussed over details and ordered endless takes, habits contrary to

the impatient Tracy. Yet the film was geared to Tracy so both men got along well. Cukor was one of Hepburn's favorite directors since he let her have free reign in interpreting her role, but she sometimes tried to take over the film completely. At one point she instructed Cukor how to set the fire

in the retreat house and the urbane, intellectual director glared at her, sighed, then said: "It must be wonderful to know all about acting and all about fires." This caused Tracy to laugh uproariously. When it came to billing it was no laughing matter with Tracy. His name always came first before

Hepburn's. Writer Garson Kanin, who was a close friend to both Tracy and Hepburn, once asked the actor why he insisted upon first billing above Hepburn. "Why not?" asked Tracy. "Well," reasoned Kanin, "she's the lady, you're the man. Ladies first?" Snorted Tracy: "This is a movie, chowderhead, not

a lifeboat!"

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This is an offbeat gothic drama with elements of mystery, that would be nothing more than a muddle if not for the compelling presence of Tracy and Hepburn. Tracy, a war correspondent, is assigned to write the life story of Robert V. Forrest (never seen), a… (more)

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