An All-Time Classic 'Battle of the Sexes' is a 'sheer joy'!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 12/24/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Adam's Rib' is arguably the greatest Tracy-Hepburn film, and is certainly the most popular of their teamings. Brightly written (by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin), it takes the premise of the trial of a wife (the sparkling Judy Holliday, in her film debut) shooting her unfaithful husband (Tom Ewell, establishing himself in the kind of role he'd reprise in The Seven-Year Itch), and turns it into a forum for sexual values in the '40s, and a showcase for the fabulous Tracy and Hepburn. The two were never better than as the battling D.A. and defense attorney. In the courtroom and out, the love they share, and tweaking of each other's egos, is a sheer joy to watch. That the story is also a knowing commentary about women's inequality under the law makes the film even more topical today, and doesn't reduce the film's enjoyment value at all. It is a VERY funny film, and can be enjoyed at MANY levels! David Wayne's smarmy songwriter-neighbor sings 'Goodbye, Amanda', a song written by Cole Porter for the film (In fact, Hepburn's character's name in the film was changed to Amanda, to fit Porter's song!) Favorite scenes include the 'home movie', which accurately reflects Tracy and Hepburn's own relationship; the infamous massage scene ("I know a slap...!"); and Tracy's licorice-gun confrontation, and crying-on-demand scene. A Classic that deserves it's reputation"
It's a gem
Benjamin J Burgraff | 12/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Long acclaimed as one of Hollywood's finest comedies, Adam's Rib is arguably the best of the Tracy/Hepburn offerings. One can appreciate it fifty years after its debut. Any movie should be looked upon as a period piece, but the best ones are able to transcend their own time frames.Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn play husband-and-wife legal beagles, so close personally that they share a nickname, who oppose each other professionally in a routine criminal trial. The circumstances of the case impel them to focus on their personal causes (feminism for her, honor for the law for him), and they quickly become competitors and antagonists in their marriage as well.And this is a comedy? Yes - thanks to inspired scriptwriting, expert direction, and a good fast pace. The supporting cast is exceptional - Judy Holliday (who won an Oscar for her role) as the harrassed defendant, Tom Ewell as her sleazy philandering husband, and David Wayne as the lawyers' very, very weird neighbor. Jean Hagen has a small role as the "other woman" - she later played the obnoxious silent-movie diva in "Singin' in the Rain." Watch - at least once - the apartment/hallway quarrel with the sound turned off. You'll see facets of movie-making brilliance you may not have noticed before. Adam's Rib is one of the few Hollywood films which proves itself, indeed, to be like a finely cut emerald."
A classic that succeeds on many, many levels
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the films that Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy made together, this is my favorite. The two are absolutely brilliant as a husband and wife who are both lawyers on opposite sides of a case having to do with a woman defending her honor by shooting her husband when she finds him cheating on her. As great as the two leads are, however, this film is so rich and succeeds on so many levels that it would have been a great success even with two far less gifted performers. The film also features what was essentially the debut of three well known performers: Jean Hagen (who would shine only three years later in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN), Tom Ewell, and the absolutely magnificent Judy Holiday, arguably the greatest dumb blondes in the history of Hollywood (despite being by all accounts one of the most intellectually brilliant performers ever, once having scored over 170 on an IQ test). Holiday is especially great in the film, absolutely stealing every scene in which she appears. Her scene in the witness chair is my favorite scene in the film. David Wayne fills out a remarkable cast as Hepburn and Tracy's next door neighbor, a songwriter who pens the song "Farewell, Amanda" for Hepburn, who plays Amanda Bonner (Tracy is Adam Bonner, hence the title of the film). His constant bantering enlivens nearly every scene in which he appears.George Cukor does his usual competent job directing, but the heart of the film, in addition to the acting, is the outstanding script by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin. The movie is stuffed with jokes, gags, emotional tension, and serious issues in a manner that is rarely successful. One of my few complaints with the film is the rather absurd handling of questions of women's equality, naively basing it on the ability of a woman to do anything a man can do, which is, of course, absurd in a variety of situations. For instance, they bring a Strong Woman into the court room, to demonstrate that a woman can be as strong as a man, though it is impossible to discern what legal point that is supposed to make, and leads to a moment of slapstick that is below the quality of the rest of the film. The silliness of this scene seems to undercut the seriousness of the issue of women's issues in the rest of the film. Also, one can see the wires used to make it appear the woman is lifting him over her head, making it seem even sillier.This is one of those movies that improves upon reviewing, partly because a first viewing isn't sufficient to unveil all the excellences contained within it. It remains one of my favorite films by all of the principles involved."
Pleasant mid century skirmish in the sexual wars
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 07/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two New York lawyers, husband Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) and wife Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn), work out the marital tension and fight the sexual wars in the courtroom on opposite sides of a wife (Judy Holliday) shoots cheating husband (Tom Ewell) case. Adam's masculinity is seemingly challenged and his sense of justice offended by his wife's insistence on showing how smart she is while furthering her feminist agenda at the expense of the law. Will their public confrontation destroy their marriage, or will it ultimately make the bond stronger? This still plays mainly because of the charisma of Hepburn and Tracy and the fine chemistry they create together. The script by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon is profound and shallow by turns, yet ultimately witty and pleasing. Judy Holliday as the lower middle-class Doris Attinger (on her way to her signature role in Born Yesterday (1950)) and David Wayne, as the song-writing neighbor who adores Amanda, shine in supporting roles. George Cukor's direction is clear, crisp and always focused. In the end we can see that Adam can be as feminine as Amanda can be masculine. The bit where Tracy cries real tears to win her back and then tells her, "We all have our tricks" is classic. It's his clever answer to her outrageous courtroom theatrics. Memorable as it illuminates their contrasting personalities is the early scene where the unsophisticated Doris is interviewed by Yale law school grad Amanda. As a political movie, was Adam's Rib ahead of its time as a vehicle for feminist expression, or was it just another apology for male chauvinism, or was it balanced and fair? I'll give you a hint: the title is ironic. One of the things that made the Tracy/Hepburn romance work so well for so long was the creative balance they maintained in the battle of the sexes. The script by Kanin and Gordon carefully continues that profoundly true equilibrium."