In The Sea of Grass, a cultured Katharine Hepburn leaves big town St. Louis to marry a New Mexican cattle baron Spencer Tracy. When Tracy’s character, who spends more time with his cattle and prairie than his lonely wife, is unable to accept the inevitable settlement of the west, Hepburn is drawn to Tracy’s nemesis, a lawyer (later a judge) played by Melvyn Douglas, who assists homesteaders pressing their land claims against Tracy’s violent control over government-owned land.
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are my all-time favourite recurring on-screen couple (followed by Myrna Loy & William Powell, then Bogey & Bacall). Over 25 years they made nine films together. This, their fourth, was the seventh I’ve seen – and my least favourite.
Their performances were generally fine, though spotty in some places. Hepburn’s is better than Tracy’s, who seemed to be phoning-it-in in too many places. I don’t think Tracy was convincing as a cattle baron. Any number of actors of that era would have been a better choice. Gary Cooper and Clark Gable come immediately to mind. Too much of the plot is not believable. Much does not make sense.