Christopher Strong

“I’m a very reckless person, Chris. And you’re a very cautious one.”

Shameless love affairs, parties lasting past dawn, regretful one-night-stands…all this in a film released in what year? 1933. Yep, you got that right. Just her second film ever but also marking the first starring role for the one and only Katharine Hepburn, the Hollywood legend plays the reckless and ambitious pilot, Cynthia Darrington who accidentally falls into a passionate love affair with the honorable and cautious Sir Christopher (Collin Clive) after both get dragged into becoming a part of a scavenger hunt party. Directed by the most prominent female director of classic Hollywood, Dorothy Arzner, Christopher Strong’s delightfully melodramatic story has more than enough sin, scandal, and heartbreak for you to take pleasure in in this pre-Code pleasure.

"the scandalous melodrama is certainly a nice treat that hopefully more audiences discover"

The two are the final treasures of the lively London scavenger hunt party. Per the hunt’s criteria, Sir Christopher, a man who’s been married to his wife for five years or more and has never been unfaithful, is brought in by his daughter, Monica (Helen Chandler). And Lady Cynthia, a woman over twenty who’s never had a love affair, is brought in by Monica’s married lover, Harry (Ralph Forbes). While both Christopher and Cynthia take immense pride in their respective qualities being marveled at by the party-goers, those honorable qualities are soon to disappear after the two meet and the universe pulls the two together in an affair that becomes inevitable. It’s all wrong – they couldn’t be more different, but neither one of them cares. But as the affair becomes more intense and their secret gets out, the results coming can only be something explosive.

The heart of Christopher Strong lies in the ever-changing relationships of the characters. And not just between the two stars. There’s a richness in the parallels between Monica and Harry’s relationship and Cynthia and Christopher’s relationship. A point which is brought up during the film’s third act, pronouncing the scandalous level of Cynthia and Christopher’s not-so-secret affair. And of course, it is always fun to see a film made within the Hollywood studio systems before the righteous clamps of the Hays Code went into effect. The whole plot surrounding adultery mixing in topics like suicide, casual divorce and everything in between is discussed in an openness that’s seldom seen from these older Hollywood films.Christopher Strong

Then we have the treat of seeing Hepburn in her first starring role. While she isn’t quite as free-flowing and confident as she would become (in fact, she is just a bit on the stiff side in this role), she still has that same independent, unapologetic spirit and unique charm that the actress would become famous for. She certainly holds her own in this picture with great strength.

And Arzner for her part, shows off a very sharp and precise direction. The most impressive shot is slyly modest in an incredibly provocative way. The single shot of nothing but Hepburn’s nearly naked arm grabbing a clock on a nightstand while conversing with Christopher about how late it is while the two are in the middle of a night in bed together. It’s just revealing enough to let us know what’s happening, but just conservative enough to leave the rest up to our imagination. It’s the best and most memorable shot of the film.

Perhaps Chirstopher Strong is not the most well-known of either Hepburn or Arzner’s pictures, but the scandalous melodrama is certainly a nice treat that hopefully more audiences discover. And thanks to the fine folks at the Warner Archive Collection, Chirstopher Strong is now available with a new and impressive Blu Ray release.

4/5 stars


Christopher Strong

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- October 24, 2023
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English SDH
DTS HD-MA 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Katharine Hepburn made her stunning screen debut as John Barrymore’s daughter in 1932’s A Bill of Divorcement. In Christopher Strong, Hepburn’s second film and first star vehicle, the intelligent, liberated and unconventionally beautiful actress chose to play an intelligent, liberated, and unconventionally beautiful aviatrix who soars into a torrid affair (with Collin Clive as a fellow aristocrat) …and crashes into unendurable heartbreak. The melodramatic story is as much keen-edged steel as tears, thanks to Hepburn’s gutsy performance and to the taut direction of Dorothy Arzner, classic Hollywood’s only major female director. Among the film’s highlights: Hepburn simply astonishing in silvery lamé heading to a costume ball as the world’s most glamorous moth.


Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and taken from a new 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative, the new 1080p transfer of Christopher Strong is very impressive. There are no real notices of dirt, tears, or scratches that can be seen. The clarity and detail of the picture is quite good for a film of this age, while preserving a pleasing amount of the film grain. And the blacks and shadows have a nice and appropriate depth. It’s a very wonderful and impressive transfer.


With a DTS-HD 2.0 monoaural soundtrack, there is a nice and crisp clarity in the dialogue, music, and ambient noises of the picture. There is a slight hiss or buzz that can be heard in lines spoken at heighted volumes, but there is nothing too overbearingly bad to really notice or to complain about. Overall, it is a very pleasing soundtrack.


While there is a lack of commentary and analysis about the film, the three shorts from Warner’s archives included are nonetheless fun to watch.


  • None

Special Features:

  • Vintage Short Subjects Plane Nuts and Tomalio
  • Vintage Cartoon Buddy’s Beer Garden

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

Christopher Strong

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
78 mins
: Dorothy Arzner
Zoe Akins; Gilbert Frankau
Katharine Hepburn; Colin Clive; Billie Burke
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote: " I wouldn't have loved you if you'd been a usual man. And you wouldn't have loved me if I'd been a woman who didn't take this kind of thing seriously"
Theatrical Distributor:
RKO Radio Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 31, 1933
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: In Christopher Strong, Hepburn’s second film and first star vehicle, the intelligent, liberated and unconventionally beautiful actress chose to play an intelligent, liberated and unconventionally beautiful aviatrix who soars into a torrid affair (with Colin Clive as a fellow aristocrat)…and crashes into unendurable heartbreak.


Christopher Strong