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Adam's Rib

Adam's Rib(1949)

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

SYNOPSIS

Attorneys Adam and Amanda Bonner are blissfully happy in their privileged world of professional achievement and creature comforts until they wind up on opposite sides of a controversial trial. Housewife Doris Attinger takes a shot at her philandering husband and is brought to trial for attempted murder. Amanda argues that a man doing the same to his cheating wife would be applauded for defending his home so she takes Doris's case pro bono, only to end up facing her assistant district attorney husband in the courtroom. As the battle over sexual equality spills over into their personal lives, the stage is set for a hilarious battle of the sexes between two formidable opponents.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Lawrence Weingarten
Screenplay: Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Editing: George Boemler
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, William Ferrari
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Cast: Spencer Tracy (Adam Bonner), Katharine Hepburn (Amanda Bonner), Judy Holliday (Doris Attinger), Tom Ewell (Warren Attinger), David Wayne (Kip Lurie), Jean Hagen (Beryl Caighn), Hope Emerson (Olympia La Pere), Clarence Kolb (Judge Reiser), Polly Moran (Mrs. McGrath), Paula Raymond (Emerald), Tommy Noonan (Reporter), Madge Blake (Mrs. Bonner), Marvin Kaplan (Court Stenographer), Anna Q. Nilsson (Mrs. Poynter).
BW-102m. Closed captioning.

Why ADAM'S RIB is Essential

With its story of married attorneys sparring in court and at home over the sexual double standard, Adam's Rib was years ahead of its time in dealing with feminist issues. Critic and historian Robin Wood would call it "perhaps the most explicitly feminist of all Hepburn movies" (International Dictionary of Actors and Actresses).

Other historians have hailed the film as a logical extension of the screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s. For them, the battle over sexual stereotyping grew out of the career vs. marriage conflicts of such earlier films as His Girl Friday (1940) and Woman of the Year (1942).

Adam's Rib took its inspiration from a real court case. Actress-writer Ruth Gordon and her husband Garson Kanin were driving to their country home under perilous conditions when, to distract her, Kanin asked his wife to tell him an interesting story. The first to come to mind was the story of actors Raymond Massey and Adrianne Allen's divorce. They had turned for legal help to married lawyers William and Dorothy Whitney, who did their jobs so well that after the case was closed the lawyers divorced each other and married their clients. The idea of husband-and-wife lawyers intrigued the husband-and-wife writers, who sat up till four the next morning discussing the story possibilities. Even in the early stages of development, they referred to the leads as Spence and Kate. Eventually they sold the screenplay for Man and Wife to MGM, where the title was changed to the less suggestive Adam's Rib. Despite all the on-screen courtroom shenanigans, the film also offers a surprisingly faithful depiction of what really happens during a legal case.

George Cukor was the natural choice to direct. Not only had he worked with the Kanins on their first screenplay together, A Double Life (1947), but he had directed some of Hepburn's greatest triumphs, including her screen debut in A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and her comeback from box-office poison, The Philadelphia Story (1940). Ironically, Hepburn and Tracy were both in a box-office slump at the end of the 1940s, a situation that Adam's Rib (1949) quickly remedied.

Hepburn was always closely involved in the development of scripts for her films. In addition to attending script conferences, she and Cukor visited courtrooms in Los Angeles to soak up details they could use to make the film more authentic. Once the script was ready, the company moved to New York, where the film was shot almost entirely on location. Cukor was happy for the chance to capture a near-documentary feel for some of the scenes, while Hepburn was happy to return to her conveniently located apartment, where she could walk to the set each morning.

The legal case on-screen wasn't the only trial associated with Adam's Rib. Kanin had recently scored a Broadway hit with his play Born Yesterday and wanted its star, Judy Holliday, to repeat her stage role. But Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures had bought the film rights and decided that Holliday was too fat and ugly to play the part of an ex-chorus girl on screen. When Kanin shared the problem at a story conference for Adam's Rib, Hepburn suggested casting Holliday in the film's key supporting role, a frumpy housewife who stands trial for shooting her straying husband. She even encouraged the Kanins to build up the role in order to make it more of a showcase, and then she helped convince Holliday to take the part.

Hepburn continued to boost Holliday throughout shooting, helping her adjust to film acting and convincing Cukor to film the wife's strongest scene - her jailhouse interview with Hepburn - in one long medium shot of the young actress. According to legend, she refused to shoot reaction shots, so the entire scene of more than nine minutes was more or less a screen test for Born Yesterday. Once he saw her in Adam's Rib, Harry Cohn changed his mind and signed Holliday - and Cukor - for the film that would make her a star and bring her the Oscar® for Best Actress.

by Felicia Feaster & Frank Miller

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

Pop Culture 101 - ADAM'S RIB

In 1949, the year Adam's Rib premiered, philosopher Simone de Beauvoir published her seminal study of male oppression of women, The Second Sex.

In 1973, ABC launched a short-lived television series based on Adam's Rib. Blythe Danner and Ken Howard starred as the battling lawyers. One episode was a re-make of the film, with Madeline Kahn in Judy Holliday's role. The series lasted 11 weeks.

Although not adapted from Adam's Rib, Joel and Ethan Coen's 2003 film Intolerable Cruelty, about a divorce lawyer who falls in love with his rival attorney's client, was their attempt to capture the spirit of the Tracy-Hepburn classic. George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones starred.

Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore played feuding lawyers who have an affair in 2004's Laws of Attraction, a contemporary attempt at a Hepburn-Tracy romantic comedy.

Although best known for his work on glamorous "women's pictures," Cukor was capable of startling realistic effects. The opening of Adam's Rib, in which the cameras follow Judy Holliday through a series of real New York locations, including the subway, as she tracks her philandering husband, had a realistic edge later found in the cinema verite films of the '60s.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

Trivia & Other Fun Stuff

One of the tag lines in the film's ads was "It's the hilarious answer to who wears the pants!"

Garson Kanin often bragged that neither he nor his wife, Ruth Gordon, had ever been hired to write by any of the Hollywood studios. All of their scripts were written on speculation in their homes in the East and then sold to Hollywood.

Spencer Tracy always insisted on top billing in his films with Katharine Hepburn. When Garson Kanin called him on it and suggested, "She's the lady. You're the man. Ladies first?" Tracy responded, "This is a movie, Chowderhead, not a lifeboat." (Anne Edwards, A Remarkable Woman: A Biography of Katharine Hepburn).

David Wayne's character, songwriter Kip Lurie, was modeled on Cole Porter, who, though happily married, was also gay.

During interior shooting in Hollywood, Holliday used her spare time to explore the MGM lot. After being costumed and made up as a man for a fantasy sequence, she took one such stroll, during which she ran into Greer Garson. The studio's top female star of the '40s let out a scream at the sight of Holliday in full male drag.

Jean Hagen, cast as the woman who tries to steal Holliday's husband, was one of many young actresses tested for the lead in Born Yesterday (1950).

Hope Emerson, who plays strong woman Olympia La Pere, would win an Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actress as the sadistic prison matron in Caged (1950). She's best known for her television work as Mother during the first seasons of the private eye series Peter Gunn and as the voice of Elsie the Cow.

Hepburn asked that her long-time friend and frequent stand-in Eve March be cast as her secretary. Hers was the only performance in the film Cukor did not like, telling the Kanins she stood out like a "sore toenail" (Cukor quoted in Emanuel Levy, George Cukor: Master of Elegance. March would play Hepburn's secretary again over 20 years later in the Broadway musical Coco.

Clarence Kolb (Judge Reiser) is best known for his performances as the corrupt mayor in His Girl Friday (1940) and Charles Farrell's boss on the classic sitcom My Little Margie.

Polly Moran (Mrs. McGrath) had been a silent screen star for comedy director Mack Sennett in the teens. Sennett clown "Snub" Pollard also appeared in Adam's Rib in an unbilled bit as a man in the courtroom.

Cukor and Hepburn would team on ten films in all, making Cukor one of the most important directors in her career. He cast her in her film debut, A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and directed her in such landmark films as Little Women (1933) and The Philadelphia Story (1940). When they moved to television together, he helped her win an Emmy for her performance opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in Love Among the Ruins (1975).

Adam's Rib was the second of seven films on which Cukor collaborated with one or both of the Kanins. They first teamed for the theatrical drama A Double Life (1947), starring Ronald Colman. In fact, he would direct all four of the scripts they wrote as collaborators, making them one of the screen's most acclaimed director-writer collaborations. Cukor would always say that some of the best directorial touches in their films together were already in the scripts.

by Frank Miller

Famous Quotes from ADAM'S RIB

"A boy sows a wild oat or two, the whole world winks. A girl does the same -- scandal." - Katharine Hepburn as Amanda Bonner, outlining the case against Doris Attinger.

"You just sound cute when you get cause-y." - Spencer Tracy as Adam Bonner, refusing to take his wife's commitment seriously.
"Hungry." --Hepburn quizzing Judy Holliday, as Doris Attinger, about the crime.

"Amanda, my love, why do you stay married to a legal beagle with ten thumbs?" - David Wayne as Kip Lurie.

"If you think you're gonna turn a court of law into a Punch and Judy show..."
"Darling, please, please, this means a great deal to me and it is not a stunt. This poor woman -- isn't she entitled to the same justice, I mean, that's usually reserved for men? The same unwritten law that got Lennahan off...I know what you're going to say. That he should have been convicted too. But, he wasn't...And you're not gonna put this poor soul away just because she had the misfortune to be born a female. Not if I can help it." - Tracy and Hepburn squaring off before the trial.

"Oh, what are you gonna do, object before I ask the question?" -- Tracy confronting Hepburn in the courtroom.

"You meant that, didn't you? You really meant that...Yes, you did, I know your type. I know a slap from a slug...I'm not so sure I care to expose myself to typical instinctive masculine brutality...And it felt not only as though you meant it but as though you felt you had a right to. I can tell." - Hepburn to Tracy

"What've you got back there, radar equipment?" -- Hepburn arguing with Tracy over a playful swat he delivers to her posterior during a massage.

"Let's all be manly!" -- Hepburn.

"I see something in you I've never seen before and I don't like it. As a matter of fact, I hate it...Contempt for the law, that's what you've got -- it's a disease, a spreading disease -... You think the law is something that you can get over or get under or get around or just plain flaunt. You start with that and you wind up in the...Well, look at us! The law is the law, whether it's good or bad. If it's bad the thing to do is to change it, not just to bust it wide open. You start with one law, then pretty soon it's all laws, pretty soon it's everything -- then it's me. You've got no respect for me, have you?...What is marriage? Tell me, that...It's a contract, it's the law. Are you going to outsmart that the way you've outsmarted all other laws? That's clever, that's very clever. You've outsmarted yourself, and you've outsmarted me, and you've outsmarted everything. You get yourself set on some dim-witted cause and you go ahead regardless. You don't care what it does to me or does to you -- or does to anybody. And you don't care what people watching think of us. Well, I'll tell you what they think of us. They think we're a couple of uncivilized nuts. Uncivilized! Just what blow you've struck for women's rights or what have you, I'm sure I don't know -- but you certainly have fouled us up beyond all recognition. You'll split us right down the middle...I've done it all the way I said I would. Sickness, health, richer, poorer, better or worse. But this is too worse -- this is basic! I'm old-fashioned. I like two sexes! And another thing. All of a sudden I don't like being married to what is known as a 'new woman.' I want a wife, not a competitor! Competitor! Competitor! If you want to be a big he-woman, go ahead and be it, but not with me!" - Tracy, calling an end to his marriage.

"An unwritten law stands back of a man who fights to defend his home. Apply the same to this maltreated mother. We ask no more. Equality! Deep in the interior of South America, there thrives a civilization older than ours, a people known as the Loreanoes, descended from the Amazons. In this vast tribe, members of the female sex rule and govern and systematically deny equal rights to the men -- made weak and puny by years of subservience. Too weak to revolt. And yet how long have we lived in the shadow of a like injustice?" - Hepburn's closing argument.

"First of all, I should like to say that I think the arguments advanced by the counsel for the defense were sound... MERE sound!" -- Tracy countering.

"Lawyers should never marry other lawyers. This is called in-breeding; from this comes idiot children... and other lawyers." -- David Wayne.

"No matter what you think you think, you think the same as I think." - Tracy confronting Hepburn about her true feelings on the case.

"What I said was true, there's no difference between the sexes. Men, women, the same."
"They are?"
"Well, maybe there is a difference, but it's a little difference."
"Well, you know as the French say?"
"What do they say?"
"Vive la difference!"
"Which means?"
"Which means hurrah for that little difference." - Hepburn and Tracy come to an amicable conclusion.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

The Big Idea Behind ADAM'S RIB

Adam's Rib was inspired by the 1939 divorce of actors Raymond Massey and Adrianne Allen. Their friends, married attorneys William Dwight Whitney and Dorothy Ludington Whitney, represented them. The divorce was so amicable that after it was over, the attorneys themselves divorced and married their clients. Both marriages would last for decades, only ending when the husbands died.

Actress-writer Ruth Gordon knew the story well, having worked with Massey on stage and screen (most notably in Abe Lincoln in Illinois which was filmed in 1940, shortly after the divorce).

She and husband Garson Kanin got the idea for the film during a drive to their country home in Connecticut. They had to drive through a storm, which was making Gordon nervous. To take her mind off the weather, Kanin asked her to tell him something interesting, so she told him about the Massey-Allen-Whitney divorces. Kanin was so intrigued by the story, that he missed their exit. They stayed up until 4 a.m. working out the plot for a film about married lawyers on opposite sides of the same case.

During discussions of the plot, the Kanins fell into referring to the lawyers as Spence and Kate. They even included bits of the stars' personalities in the two characters they would play. Adam's Rib was the first script written specifically for Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn since their first movie together, Woman of the Year, in 1942.

The script's original title was Man and Wife, but MGM executives thought it might be considered too risqu.

Once the script was completed, Hepburn and Tracy agreed to make the film, and MGM production chief Dore Schary agreed to bankroll it. All involved knew that George Cukor was the perfect choice to direct.

Cukor and Hepburn did research for the film by attending the Los Angeles murder trial of accused murderer Betty Ferreri. One thing he noted was a change in the defendant's look. During the first days of the trial she looked hard and overly made-up. Later, possibly under direction from her lawyer, she adopted a more natural, softer look. He used this in planning Judy Holliday's look for the trial scenes.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

Behind the Camera on ADAM'S RIB

The Production Code Administration's chief concerns with the film were that the judicial system be treated with proper respect and nothing be done to make the adulterous relationship between Tom Ewell and Jean Hagen's characters funny. They also cautioned against making Amanda's songwriter friend, Kip, come across as gay.

Adam's Rib was filmed almost entirely on location in New York City. During filming, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy stayed in separate homes, as was their habit whenever traveling together. That allowed them to maintain their decades-long relationship without any scandal appearing in the press.

Shooting in New York also meant that Judy Holliday could continue appearing on Broadway in Born Yesterday. At times she had to work a 20-hour day to honor her commitments to both projects. When production moved back to Hollywood, however, she had to arrange an early release from her Broadway contract.

Although Judy Holliday (Doris Attinger) had played some small roles on screen, Adam's Rib was her first major film role. She had become a star on Broadway when she had stepped in at the last minute after Jean Arthur quit the leading role in Garson Kanin's political comedy Born Yesterday.

Holliday hoped to repeat her stage performance in the film version of Born Yesterday (1950), but the rights had been bought by Columbia Pictures, whose production chief, Harry Cohn, wanted no part of the woman he referred to as "that fat Jewish broad." He wouldn't even let her test for the role. When Kanin complained about this to Hepburn, she suggested casting Holliday as the woman who shoots her husband in Adam's Rib. When they offered her the role, however, she turned it down. Finally Hepburn got the real reason out of her. Sensitive about her weight, Holliday didn't want to be called "fatso" on screen. Hepburn assured her that the Kanin's would gladly rewrite the line: "They're writers. They know lots of words." Finally, Holliday agreed. Later she insisted that the word "fatso" be restored because it was the best way of playing the scene.

Hepburn, Cukor and the Kanins managed to turn her performance in Adam's Rib into a screen test for the other film. In particular, one long scene in which Doris recounts how and why she shot her husband was written as a near monologue for the character. Holliday shot her close-up of the speech in one take. Then Hepburn refused to shoot more than a few brief reaction shots, thus forcing Cukor to focus the entire scene on Holliday. That scene convinced Cohn to test Holliday. After three tests (she borrowed a gown from Hepburn for one of them), he finally cast her over such glamorous stars as Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball and the young Marilyn Monroe. Hepburn would later explain her generosity to Kanin: "It was the kind of thing you do because people have done it for you." (Garson Kanin, Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir).

One thing that brought Cohn around was press reports during shooting that Holliday was stealing the film from her more experienced co-stars. The items concerned Cukor, who didn't believe it was really possible to steal a film. When he confronted MGM's head of publicity about the stories, he discovered they had all been planted by Hepburn as part of her campaign to help Holliday win the lead in Born Yesterday.

Judy Holliday was so nervous on her first day of shooting that she repeatedly missed her mark. Fearing the crew would think her stupid, she offered them all free tickets to see her in Born Yesterday.

During filming, Katharine Hepburn was planning to tackle feminism a la Shakespeare as the cross-dressing Rosalind in a revival of As You Like It. Cukor hoped to direct her in the production, but, wanting to make the revival an escape from Hollywood, she asked the producer to turn him down gently. He got word during the first week of filming. The stage production was a personal triumph for her.

The script called for Kip Lurie (David Wayne) to write a song about his devotion to Hepburn's character. Kanin wrote a song for the moment, but nobody liked it. When he dared Hepburn to find a better song, she asked Cole Porter to do it. At the time, the leading lady's name was "Madeleine." Porter turned Hepburn down, saying it was impossible to do a song about a woman with that name. Then he suggested changing her name to Amanda. Eight days later, he presented them with a new song, "Farewell, Amanda." It was actually a re-working of "So Long, Samoa," a song he had written in 1940 and never used. Rather than charge MGM for his services, he asked that they make a large donation to the Red Cross.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

The Critics' Corner on ADAM'S RIB

Adam's Rib earned $2.75 million in rentals during its initial release. It ranked 15th at the box office for 1950, the year during which it received most of its engagements, and ended box office slumps for both Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

"As we say, Mr. Tracy and Miss Hepburn are the stellar performers in this show and their perfect compatibility in eyebrow, a smile or a sharp, resounding slap on a tender part of the anatomy is as natural as breathing to them. Plainly, they took great pleasure in playing this rambunctious spoof. Miss Holliday...is simply hilarious as a dumb but stubborn dame." - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times.

"Adam's Rib belied its biblically sexist title when it surfaced in 1949 as an instant classic of feminist sass and savvy. Almost fifty years later time has not withered nor custom staled its bubbly sparkle." - Andrew Sarris, "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet"

"Adam's Rib again presents Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as the ideal U.S. Mr. and Mrs. of upper-middle income...Hepburn's elegantly arranged bones and Tracy's assurance as an actor make them worth looking at in any movie, but the stars are called on for some aggressive cuteness in this one." - Time magazine

"If Hepburn's feminist arguments are a little on the wild side and too easily bounced off Tracy's paternalistic chauvinism, the script by the Kanins so bristles with wit that it scarcely matters. And in a film in which everybody is acting -- a point neatly stressed by the styleised staginess of Cukor's direction -- the performances (not least from [David] Wayne and [Jean] Hagen) are matchless." - Tom Milne, The Time Out Film Guide"George Cukor directed this "uncinematic" but well-played and often witty M-G-M comedy about the battle of the sexes...The script by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin is lively and ingenious (though it stoops to easy laughs now and then). Cukor's work is too arch, too consciously, commercially clever, but it's also spirited, confident...And as a composer-neighbor of the married lawyers David Wayne airily upstages the two stars..." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

"It's probably Hepburn and Tracy's best film, yet it has dated as badly as the others. Like the others, it must be seen in the light of its era to appreciate that it was ahead of its time in its treatment of sexual politics. The characters do so much grandstanding that the issues get blurred, yet the bright script by married Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon deserves praise for being a Hollywood film that not only mentioned the term "sexual equality" way back in 1949, but also attempted to be something much more significant than the typical battle of the sexes." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic.

"Adam's Rib is a bright comedy success, belting over a succession of sophisticated laughs...A better realization on type than Holliday's portrayal of a dumb Brooklyn femme doesn't seem possible." - Variety Movie Guide.

"A superior star vehicle which also managed to introduce four promising personalities; slangily written and smartly directed, but perhaps a shade less funny than it once seemed." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide.

"The movie tackles issues of sexual equality versus the "biological" (or are they cultural?), gender differences we see and act upon in our daily lives, asking us where do we draw the line between legal equality and gender distinctions? Fortunately, Adam's Rib never loses its sense of humour, and the issues are lightly handled, only occasionally stooping to silliness (such as when Tracy is hoisted aloft in court by a female circus performer). Adam's Rib gives us writers, performers and a director all operating at peak levels of performance; it's a classic comedy." - Dan Jardine, Apollo Film Guide.

AWARDS & HONORS

Although Adam's Rib premiered in New York in late 1949, it did not play in Los Angeles until the following year. As a result, it had to compete against 1950's film releases for the Oscars® and Golden Globes.

Adam's Rib received only one Oscar® nomination, for Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin's original screenplay. It lost to Sunset Boulevard.

The film was also nominated for a Writer's Guild Award for Best Written American Comedy. It lost to All About Eve.

Judy Holliday's performance brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Although she lost in the category (to Oscar®-winner Josephine Hull in Harvey), she won their award for Best Actress -- Comedy or Musical for Born Yesterday.

In 1992, Adam's Rib won a place on the National Film Registry.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

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teaser Adam's Rib (1949)

The battle of the sexes spilled over into the courtroom in 1949, when Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn played husband-and-wife attorneys on opposite sides of an explosive case in their sixth film together - Adam's Rib (1949). For all the courtroom shenanigans as Hepburn tries to prove the sexes equal as a matter of law, the film offers a surprisingly faithful depiction of what really happens during a legal case.

In fact, the story took its inspiration from a real court case. Actress-writer Ruth Gordon and her husband Garson Kanin were driving to their country home under perilous conditions when, to distract her, Kanin asked his wife to tell him an interesting story. The first she thought of was the divorce of actors Raymond Massey and Adrianne Allen. They had turned for legal help to married lawyers William and Dorothy Whitney, who did their jobs so well that after the case was closed the lawyers divorced each other and married their clients. The idea of husband-and-wife lawyers intrigued the husband-and-wife writers, who sat up till four the next morning talking out story possibilities. Even that early, they began referring to the leads as Spence and Kate. Eventually, they sold the screenplay for Man and Wife to MGM, where the title was changed to the less suggestive Adam's Rib.

George Cukor was the natural choice to direct. Not only had he worked with the Kanins on their first screenplay together, A Double Life (1947), but he had directed some of Hepburn's greatest triumphs, including her screen debut in A Bill of Divorcement (1932) and her comeback from box-office poison, The Philadelphia Story (1940). Ironically, Hepburn and Tracy were both in a box-office slump at the end of the 1940s, a situation that Adam's Rib (1949) quickly remedied.

Hepburn was always closely involved in the development of scripts for her films. In addition to attending script conferences, she and Cukor visited courtrooms in Los Angeles to soak up details they could use to make the film more authentic. Once the script was ready, the company moved to New York, where the film was shot almost entirely on location. Cukor was happy for the chance to capture a near-documentary feel for some of the scenes, while Hepburn was happy to return to her conveniently located apartment, where she could walk to the set each morning. Always discreet about their relationship, Tracy took a suite at the Waldorf Towers, a few blocks from Hepburn's apartment.

The legal case on-screen wasn't the only trial associated with Adam's Rib. Kanin had recently scored a Broadway hit with his play Born Yesterday and wanted its star, Judy Holliday, to repeat her stage role. But Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures had bought the film rights and decided that Holliday was too fat and ugly to play the part of an ex-chorus girl on screen. When Kanin shared the problem at a story conference for Adam's Rib, Hepburn suggested casting Holliday in the film's key supporting role, a frumpy housewife who stands trial for shooting her straying husband. She even encouraged the Kanins to build up the role in order to make it more of a showcase, and then she helped convince Holliday to take the part. Initially, the young actress refused, finally admitting to Hepburn that she didn't like a line that referred to her as "Fatso." Hepburn assured her that the word could be changed: "They're writers. They know lots of words." After she signed for the film, Holliday insisted that "fatso" be restored - she realized that it was the only possible line for that scene.

Hepburn continued to boost Holliday throughout shooting, helping her adjust to film acting and convincing Cukor to film the wife's strongest scene - her jailhouse interview with Hepburn - in one long medium shot of the young actress. According to legend, she refused to shoot reaction shots, so the entire scene of more than nine minutes was more or less a screen test for Born Yesterday. Once he saw her in Adam's Rib, Harry Cohn changed his mind and signed Holliday - and Cukor - for the film that would make her a star and bring her the Oscar® for Best Actress. Later, when Kanin praised Hepburn for helping the younger actress, Hepburn brushed the compliment aside: "It was the kind of thing you do because people have done it for you. . . . You never get a chance to repay them, really, so what you do is repay them by doing what you can for someone else when the opportunity comes up."

Producer: Lawrence Weingarten
Director: George Cukor
Screenplay: Ruth Gordon & Garson Kanin
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, William Ferrari
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Adam Bonner), Katharine Hepburn (AmandaBonner), Judy Holliday (Doris Attinger), Tom Ewell (Warren Attinger), DavidWayne (Kip Lurie), Jean Hagen (Beryl Caighn).
BW-102m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Frank Miller

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