Film Flick: Adam's Rib

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hepburn and Tracy- one of American films' best star pairings, and certianly one of the most prolific. The couple made a whopping total of nine films together. Arguably their best, Adam's Rib, was number six.

When a woman tries to murders her philandering husband, Adam Bonner is assigned the case for the prosecution. What first looked to be just annother work-a-day task becomes a battle of the sexes that threatens to tear his marriage apart when his wife and fellow laywer, Amanda Bonner, takes up the case for the defense! Hepburn, as Amanda Bonner, gives impassioned arguments to paint the accused's case as a campaign for the Feminist Cause whereas Tracy, as Adam Bonner, is stuck trying to hold up the letter of the law even as the courtroom turns into a circus (literally!). Tension mounts at home as courtroom rivalary leaks into the marriage. And the neighbor who admires Amanda certianly isn't helping things! Can this marriage be saved or will the next court they meet in be divorce court?!

Spousal laywers duke it out in one the nation's courthouses? Sounds outlandish, but in fact the script was based off of real life events! Script writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin saw a newspaper story about a lawyer couple fighting it out in court. While it wasn't over attempted murder, as in the movie, they knew a good story when they saw it. The script was made especially for Hepburn and Tracy, who were their personal friends. Hepburn also got to have her favorite director onboard, adding another level of comradery to the mix. Famous "woman's director" George Cuckor was at the helm for Adam's Rib. It wasn't just old friends on set though; several now-famous stars also found their way onto the silver screen in Adam's Rib. Kathrine Hepburn took a liking to Judy Holliday after seeing her in the Broadway production of Born Yesterday. Most who saw her thought she was a smash hit, but the studio didn't want an unknown in the lead role of the movie version. So Hepburn got Holliday the part of Doris, the trigger-happy wife, and considered it as Holliday's "screen test" for the film Born Yesterday. Hepburn even went so far as to spread rumors that Holliday stole the show out from under her and Tracy's feet. The ploy worked for, as any Holliday fan knows, she not only got a part in Born Yesterday, but it was her break-away role! Another now-familar face on the film is David Wayne as the songwriter-neighbor Kip Laurie, who writes the popular song "Farewell Amanda" much to Adam's chargin. Rising star Frank Sinatra even got a cameo too as the voice on the radio and record singing "Farewell Amanda!"

All this talent comes together in a perfect meld to create far and away one of the single best romantic comedies of all time. Kathrine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are often said to be at their best fighting and sparring to develop a sense of equilibrium in all their on-screen relathionships. They balance each other out, Hepburn giving Tracy class, and he giving her warmth. Its not the spars that drew me in this time though, but the warm, loving marraige this picture drew. This is a couple with dreams, with love and fun as well as work. Just as the couple is given both soft and hard sides, the script also manages that careful balancing act, givng both good lines and good points in the debate on gender-equality that is so central to the plot. Adam Bonner is not drawn as a boorish traditionalist. Even if he admits he wants two seperate sexes, he explains there's only a little difference between the two but he wants that little difference. And anyone who has admired the opposite sex will hardly disagree! Amanda Bonner too is never caricatured, or comes across too harsh. Her points are valid, if her demenor haughty, and the tricks she has up her sleeve will keep you laughing. There is little more to add, except you will be at the edge of your seat waiting to see who wears the pants in this family!


  1. Adams Rib is one of my favorite movies! Such a good one.


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  2. Ah, I LOVE Adam's Rib! I'm such a big Katharine Hepburn fan (could there be a more perfect romantic comedy than The Philadelphia Story??) and this is by far the best Hepburn/Tracy pairing. Great review, as usual :)

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