EMILY: You know what, I’m not returning the gift. I’m going to put it away in a closet and you won’t know what it is until you do get married someday.
LORELAI: Tell me now!
LORELAI: Come on! Mom, I may never get married. I may be a free spirit my whole life, or fall in love with a separated Catholic guy like Katharine Hepburn did, and then not get to go to his funeral when he dies.
Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) was an American actress who was born and grew up in Hartford; like Rory, she attended a private school there. A leading lady in Hollywood for more for 60 years, she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress – a record number for any performer. In 1999 Hepburn was named the greatest female star of Classic Hollywood Cinema by the American Film Institute.
After beginning her career in theatre, success on Broadway brought Katharine Hepburn to Hollywood, and she received her first Academy Award for her third film, Morning Glory (1933). This was followed by a series of failures, but she arranged her own comeback by buying the rights to the film The Philadelphia Story (1940), only selling them on condition of starring in itself. The film was a massive success, and is regarded as one of the best screwball romantic comedies of all time.
In the 1940s Hepburn was contracted by MGM, where she frequently played opposite film star Spencer Tracy (1900-1967); their screen partnership lasted 25 years, and produced nine movies. Hepburn and Tracy maintained a private relationship for 26 years, lasting until his death. Spencer Tracy was married, but had been separated from his wife for several years before beginning his relationship with Katharine Hepburn.
Spencer Tracy was a Catholic, but it is not clear if this was the reason for not divorcing his wife (who was an Episcopalian). From comments he made, it seemed more as if he was going along with the wishes of his wife, while Hepburn didn’t interfere and never pushed for marriage. After his death, Katharine Hepburn did not attend his funeral out of consideration for his wife and children.
EMILY: And why would you go out of town now so soon before your wedding? Didn’t your fiancé mind?
LORELAI: Oh, well …
EMILY: I mean, you act as if this coming weekend is just going to be business as usual and not the most important day of your life.
As it’s Friday Night Dinner, Lorelai and Max were actually meant to be getting married the very next day – Lorelai leaves it until almost the last minute to tell her mother the wedding is off.
EMILY: Focus the picture Lorelai … It’s hurting my eyes … It’s like I have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the vision becomes clouded due to damage to the optic nerve. Vision loss and blindness can ensue if not treated.
We discover that Lorelai has had her camera for six years, so since 1995, and still can’t focus it.
[Lorelai is showing slides of the road trip as Emily and Rory sit on the couch.]
LORELAI: This is Sever Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Harvard.
Sever Hall is an academic building in Harvard Yard designed by the famous architect H.H. Richardson, and built in the late 1870s. It was a gift from Anne Sever in honour of her deceased husband James Warren Sever. It is used for classrooms and lecture halls in the humanities, so this is where Rory would have listened to the philosophy lecture.
RORY: Feels like we’ve been gone a long time.
LORELAI: You know what’s weird? Every time I leave town, even for just a little while, I always expect everything to look different.
RORY: And it never does.
LORELAI: It never does.
Lorelai and Rory were in Portsmouth for Monday and Tuesday night, so today is Wednesday and they’ve been gone for two or three days.
Their dialogue is a comment on the unchanging timelessness of Stars Hollow, providing a stable base for Lorelai and Rory.
RORY: You know what I love most about Harvard?
LORELAI: No, what?
RORY: They don’t sell giant foam fingers.
LORELAI: No, they’ve got class out the wazoo.
Outsized hands cut out of foam are sports paraphernalia worn on the hand to show support for a particular team. They have been in use since the late 1970s.
The wazoo is American slang for “the anus”. To have a particular attribute “out of the wazoo” means to have it in abundance or to excess.
LORELAI: There has not been one moment over our entire stay when she [Sammy] has not been right there.
LADAWN: On the stairs?
LADAWN: Oh, she’s hardly ever on the stairs.
RORY: Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.
Rory is referencing the 1974 mystery film Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski, with screenplay by Robert Towne, and starring Jack Nicholson as private investigator J.J. “Jake” Gittes. Set in 1937, the film was inspired by the Californian Water Wars, disputes over southern Californian water where Los Angeles interests gained water rights in the Owens Valley (in actuality, these occured at the beginning of the 20th century).
At the end of the film, the antagonists force Jake to drive them to Chinatown, where his love interest Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) has sought temporary refuge at the house of her butler. Police are already waiting to arrest Jake, and during the confrontation, they kill Evelyn. The police free Jake, and his associate Lawrence Walsh (Joe Mantell) advises him, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown”.
Chinatown is regarded as a classic film, and Robert Towne won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The screenplay has a legendary status among film makers, and is often cited as the greatest example of film writing.
In this scene, we discover that Sammy the cat is actually a female, with her name presumably short for Samantha.