Adam's Rib

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Adam's Rib
Adamsrib.jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by George Cukor
Produced by Lawrence Weingarten
Written by Ruth Gordon
Garson Kanin
Starring Spencer Tracy
Katharine Hepburn
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cole Porter
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Editing by George Boemler
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • November 18, 1949 (1949-11-18)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,728,000[1]
Box office $3,947,000[1]

Adam's Rib is a 1949 American film written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. It stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as married lawyers who come to oppose each other in court. Judy Holliday co-stars in her first substantial film role. The music was composed by Miklós Rózsa, except for the song "Farewell, Amanda", which was written by Cole Porter.

The film was well-received upon its release and is considered a classic romantic comedy.

Plot[edit]

Tracy and Hepburn as Adam and Amanda.

Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday) follows her husband (Tom Ewell) with a gun one day and sees that he is having an affair with another woman (Jean Hagen). In her rage, she fires at the couple multiple times. One of the bullets hits her husband in the shoulder.

The following morning, married lawyers, Adam and Amanda Bonner (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) read about the incident in the newspaper. The two argue over the case; Amanda sympathizes with the girl, particularly noting the double standard that exists for men and women regarding adultery, while Adam thinks she is guilty of attempted murder. When Adam arrives at work, he learns that he has been assigned to prosecute the case. When Amanda hears this, she seeks out Doris and, to Adam's dismay, becomes her defense lawyer.

Amanda bases her case on the belief that women and men are equal, and that Doris had been forced into the situation through her husband's poor treatment. Adam feels she is showing a disregard for the law as there should never be an excuse for such behavior. Tension increasingly builds at home as the couple battle each other in court. The situation comes to a head when Amanda humiliates Adam during the trial, having her female witness lift him overhead, and Adam later storms out of their apartment. When the verdict for the trial comes in, Amanda's plea to the jury to "judge this case as you would if the sexes were reversed" proves successful, and Doris is acquitted.

That night, Adam sees Amanda and their neighbor Kip (David Wayne), who has shown a clear interest in Amanda, together through the window. He breaks into the apartment, pointing a gun at the pair. Amanda is horrified, and says to Adam "You've no right to do this, nobody does!", which satisfies Adam as he feels he has proven his point about the injustice of Amanda's line of defense. He then puts the gun in his mouth, to which Amanda and Kip scream, but Adam merely bites down on it—the gun was made of liquorice. Amanda is furious with this prank, and a three-way fight ensues.

The couple reluctantly reunites for a meeting with their tax accountant, where they talk about their relationship in the past tense. They become emotional when talking about the farm they own, and realize how they love each other. They go to the farm, where Adam announces that he has been selected as the Republican nominee for County Court Judge. Amanda jokes about running for the post as the Democratic candidate.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Advertising for the film focused on its 'battle of the sexes' theme.

The film was written specifically as a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle (their sixth film together) by friends of the couple, Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. The pair, who were married to each other, got their inspiration for the story from the real life case of William and Dorothy Whitney, who were married lawyers who ended up divorcing and marrying their respective clients in a case. Kanin saw great potential in the idea of married lawyers as adversaries, and the plot for Adam's Rib was developed. The original title for the film was Man and Wife, but the MGM front office quickly vetoed it as dangerously indiscreet.[2] Although set in New York, Adam's Rib was filmed mainly on MGM's stages in Culver City, Los Angeles.[3]

Hepburn and Kanin encouraged Judy Holliday to play the role of Doris in the movie, which was used by Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn as a screen test for the chance to re-create on film her Broadway success in Kanin's play Born Yesterday. Receiving positive notices for Adam's Rib, Holliday was cast in the 1950 film version of Born Yesterday, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

It has been noted that in several scenes of the film, there are unusually long takes, where the camera does not move for minutes at a time. Most of these scenes happen when the principal characters are arguing.[4]

Reception[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $2,971,000 in the US and Canada and $976,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $826,000.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

Ruth Gordon (later of Rosemary's Baby and Harold and Maude fame) and Garson Kanin were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1950.

In the decades since the film's release, it has attracted the esteem of many critics. In 1992, Adam's Rib was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[5]

American Film Institute Lists

AFI has also honored the film's stars, naming Katharine Hepburn the greatest American screen legend among females, and Spencer Tracy #9 among males.

TV adaptation[edit]

Adam's Rib was adapted as a television sitcom in 1973, with Ken Howard and Blythe Danner. The series was canceled after 13 episodes.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Kanin, Garson (1971). Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir. New York: Viking. pp. 154–155. ISBN 0-670-72293-6. 
  3. ^ The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves. The Titan Publishing Group. Pg12[1]
  4. ^ Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-498-06928-4. 
  5. ^ "National Film Registry". Library of Congress, accessed October 28, 2011.
  6. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  7. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  8. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  9. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10". American Film Institute. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot

External links[edit]