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Adam's Rib (1949)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 18 November 1949 (USA)
Domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case involving a woman who shot her husband.

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(screen play), (screen play)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Eve March ...
Grace
Clarence Kolb ...
Judge Reiser
Emerson Treacy ...
Jules Frikke
Polly Moran ...
Mrs. McGrath
...
Judge Marcasson
Elizabeth Flournoy ...
Dr. Margaret Brodeigh
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Storyline

When a woman attempts to kill her uncaring husband, prosecutor Adam Bonner gets the case. Unfortunately for him his wife Amanda (who happens to be a lawyer too) decides to defend the woman in court. Amanda uses everything she can to win the case and Adam gets mad about it. As a result, their perfect marriage is disturbed by everyday quarrels... Written by Chris Makrozahopoulos <makzax@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's The Hilarious Answer To Who Wears The Pants! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

18 November 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Man and Wife  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In her early monologue scene with Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday can be seen trembling. This was not acting, but nervousness. The inexperienced Judy Holliday was terrified of performing with Katharine Hepburn. See more »

Goofs

Midway through the trial, Kip uses the Bonner's piano to play an early version of a new song he's writing that is in such rough shape, it doesn't have complete lyrics. Yet shortly afterward - and long before the trial is over - the song has already been recorded, played on the radio and is reportedly a big hit. See more »

Quotes

Adam Bonner: What are ya? Sore about a little slap?
Amanda Bonner: No.
Adam Bonner: Well, what then?
Amanda Bonner: [outraged] You meant that, didn't you? You really meant that.
Adam Bonner: Why, no, I...
Amanda Bonner: Yes, you did. I can tell. I know your type. I know a slap from a slug.
Adam Bonner: Well, OK, OK.
Amanda Bonner: I'm not so sure it is. I'm not so sure I care to expose myself to typical instinctive masculine brutality.
Adam Bonner: Oh come now.
Amanda Bonner: And it felt not only as though you meant it, but as though you felt you had a right to. I can tell.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are little curtains that go up and down, on a stage in a performance hall. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blobermouth (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

You Are My Lucky Star
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Whistled by Tom Ewell
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User Reviews

 
Lawyers shouldn't marry lawyers...?
19 June 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

ADAM'S RIB is probably the most well-known of the nine Tracy/Hepburn films (with, perhaps, the exception of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner). It stars Spencer Tracy as Adam Bonner, and Katharine Hepburn as his alliteratively-named wife, Amanda. When they wind up as opposing counsel on the same Attinger v Attinger case (Adam prosecuting, Amanda defending), sparks of all sorts--romantic, angry, sexual--fly through the courtroom and their home.

Given the extremely flawed feminism of WOMAN OF THE YEAR (Tracy and Hepburn's first film together), I was worried that ADAM'S RIB would be more of the same--understandable, given that it is written by Garson Kanin, the mastermind behind the first film. The message of the film is certainly muted by the shenanigans Amanda gets up to in the courtroom--deliberately flustering Adam by giving her client a hat he had given her, for example; or flirting with him under the table (a naughty, electric scene); or even worse, having Adam literally shown up by a circus woman. It does occasionally make you wonder why Amanda has to resort to such silly tactics to make such a serious point about equal rights for women. But this really is just a minor offense--I present the entire series of 'Ally McBeal' as proof that, if ADAM'S RIB *did* present female lawyers as silly and flighty, it is hardly the only offender, and the fact that it was made in 1949 might excuse it. 'Ally McBeal' doesn't have that same excuse.

In fact, I *don't* think that ADAM'S RIB is as schizophrenic about affirming the female and equal rights as WOMAN OF THE YEAR is. Yes, Amanda does some silly things in court--this is a flaw in the film, albeit (I feel) a minor one. But, discounting that, Amanda is by all accounts a character the audience can (and do) sympathise with. Moreover, she is affirmed at the end in a way the Tess Harding character never is. I find it very interesting that, at the end, it is *Adam* who schemes to win Amanda back. (Contrast this with WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Tess has to win Sam back, and to do so, must be 'domesticated'.) The film actually makes the point that both Adam and Amanda are partly right--her cause is just as pertinent as his, and they both eventually come to respect what the other is fighting for. That's what gives them a true marriage, a true union based on sharing and trust, give and take. (Again, by contrast, this came under serious fire in WOMAN OF THE YEAR.)

In the end, ADAM'S RIB really is a wonderful film: it's not without its flaws, of course, but what it comes down to is a truly delightful little romantic comedy, with sparkling performances from its leads. It's a true delight to see Tracy and Hepburn playing a happily married couple who evidently love each other deeply. They really do play together perfectly--always in sync, and so believable as people who are going to spend the rest of their lives with each other. For them, it's the little moments that make all the difference; one of my favourites is when Adam and Amanda are screening a home movie for their party guests. Worried that Adam is mad at her (as he has every reason to be!), Amanda moves quickly across the dark room to him, and gently rests her head on his lap, before returning to her seat. Such a sweet, romantic little gesture, and yet it says volumes about their relationship.

Moreover, the film has plenty of little surprises (I was actually really pleased, and surprised, at the verdict given by the jury); a lovely supporting cast (including Jean Hagen and Judy Holliday, the latter's role being--effectively--a screen test for her later Hollywood career); and incredible dialogue fired off at an incredible pace. Plus, a sweet song by Cole Porter (albeit a very irritating, and crassly forward/opportunistic singer in the character of Kip), and some of the naughtiest scenes in film history that never took place onscreen.

Well, well worth the watch. 9/10.


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