This morning, a huge rain poured down in Los Angeles, and afterwards, everything green, the lawns and the trees, seemed to pop out from the background. It was a very pretty sight.
Today is also film actor Spencer Tracy’s 110th birthday, and he is one of my favorite actors.
I can’t remember the first Spencer Tracy film I ever saw. It probably was It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I remember when I first saw him in Adams Rib, the lawyer comedy with Katharine Hepburn, and I wondered how someone with so much obvious weight and gravitas could do comedy, but by the end of the film, he was flying. He could flip like a dime from grave intensity to comic wackiness.
I always liked his voice. Unlike a Bogart and a Cagney who gave their words edge, Tracy kept it low and intense. He also never seemed to be acting too much or too hard, yet he was always right where he needed to be.
When I was looking for clips for the piece, I stumbled upon this bit from Stanley Kramer’s 1960 film, Inherit the Wind. Look at how Tracy is right up in the camera and then turns and continues his speech with his back to the camera. It’s a little dated, but it’s still some pretty powerful stuff.