US, 1949, 101 minutes, Black and white.
Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, David Wayne, Tom Ewell, Judy Holliday, Jean Hagen, Hope Emerson, Clarence Kolb.
Directed by George Cukor.
Adam's Rib has become a classic comedy. It benefits by the finesse of Spencer Tracy working with Katharine Hepburn. During the '40s they had built quite a popular partnership in serious films as well as comedy. Their friends, playwrights Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, wrote this comedy for them (as they did with Pat And Mike some years later) and the film is under the direction of veteran George Cukor who had directed the two in Keeper Of The Flame and was to direct Pat And Mike. Both stars made several films under Cukor's direction.
With the feminist emphasis, the film is quite popular today. There is a lot of verbal comedy as well as situation comedy between the two stars, which they carry off very entertainingly. The film benefits also by a strong supporting cast who received more prominence in this film than in their previous efforts, especially Judy Holliday who plays the dumb blonde wife. She was to win an Oscar next year under Cukor's direction for Born Yesterday (written by Kanin). Jean Hagen is also introduced. She was excellent in Singin' In The Rain. Tom Ewell and David Wayne were to have successful careers. Cole Porter added a song especially for Katharine Hepburn, "Farewell Amanda". Excellent Hollywood entertainment, humorous with some thoughtful themes.
1. Enjoyable sophisticated comedy? The reputation of the film, of its stars, of the writers? How well did they blend for a comedy of the late '40s?
2. The polish of the black and white photography, direction? Music, the Cole Porter song for Amanda?
3. Enjoyment of the film from the rapport of the stars? The introduction of the new stars and their skill at the beginning of their careers?
4. The emphases of the title and the role of man and woman? The indication of feminist themes? As explored in the '40s? Man and woman in the dialogue.. the humour? The marriage between equal lawyers? The battle of the sexes at the trial? The battle for the sexes and the defence of the harassed housewife?
5. Spencer Tracy's comic skills and his standing as voicing the man's view? Male chauvinism? His expectations of his place and woman's place? His skill in his work, his understanding of his marriage? His professional jealousy of his wife? The transferring of that into his home life? His jealousy of Kit? The fights at home, his sulking? His behaviour in the court case, his upholding of the law and feeling that Amanda was breaking down the law? His attitude to being beaten? The final jealousy and confrontation? Did he learn anything from his experience?
6. The happy blend of realism and comedy? The home sequences, the Attinger attempted murder? The antics in the court?
7. Katharine Hepburn as Amanda and as a woman? Her expectations for women, for marriage, for work? Her being exasperated with her husband? Her talents, sympathy for the victim? Her interviews? Coping with Adam at home? Was she in any way vindictive? Her skill in court. attitude towards winning? Her taunting of Adam and making him jealous at the end, did she teach him a lesson?
8. How real a character, how comic a character and type?
9. The film ended with the statement of 'Vive la difference'. How much was this meant? In what way? Man and woman being the same, or being equal?
10. The presentation of an American marriage? The love between the two, the bonds between them? Their ease at home e.g. getting ready to go out, the hat? The significance of the home move sequences? The visit of Adam's parents? Their fights? A happy presentation of marriage?
11. The contrast with the Attinger marriage? The husband and his irresponsibility, his affair with Beryl? The humour in Doris' explanation of her husband's behaviour e.g. hitting her? How real a marriage, how much comic caricature with point? The character of Doris and her being harassed,, a mother,, loving her husband, awkwardness with the gun, jealousy of Beryl, her eating? Her husband and his casual attitude, his fear of being shot, the interview at the hospital, his behaviour in the court? Beryl as the other woman, the would-be glamorous type but her stupidity?
12. The detail of the treatment of the Attingers: the opening with the gun and the humour of the shooting, the hospital interview, the one-shot take of Doris's interview with Amanda in prison? The behaviour in court?
13. The significance of the case, the reason for Amanda's taking it, Adam's attitude? Their conversations under the table? The introduction of the competent women especially the holding up of Adam? The humorous point about equality of the sexes?
14. The comic point of the jury and the audience imagining the change in sex of Doris Attinger and her husband and Beryl?
15. The significance of Kit and his presence in the film, his style? Annoying, attracted to Amanda, the recurrence of the song, his participation in the climax?
16. How entertaining a comedy, how much point about men and women and their relationships?