Saturday, July 4, 2009

Adam's Rib (3.5/5)

I have never been much of a Hepburn fan, especially after reading accounts of her interactions with Ginger (nobody messes with my Ginge!!). I decided to give "Adam's Rib" a try anyway, because it was one of my Great-Grandma's favorites. She passed away a year ago tomorrow, and it was a nice way to connect to her.
From Netflix:
Husband-and-wife attorneys Adam and Amanda Bonner (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) sit at opposing sides of the courtroom in this comedy directed by George Cukor. Amanda decides to defend Doris (Judy Holliday), who stands accused of the attempted murder of her husband (Tom Ewell) and his mistress (Jean Hagen), while Adam signs on as the prosecuting attorney. The sensational trial rules the headlines and strains the Bonners' marriage.

This is the first Tracy/Hepburn picture that I have seen, and many say that it is their best. If this is their best, I can't say I'm totally interested in seeing the others. While Adam's Rib was moderately funny, it didn't hold a candle to earlier battle of the sexes comedies like Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth (more on that one later :)).
Jusy Holliday was fun in this movie as the wife who attempted to murder her husband. Jean Hagen gave a delightful performance, which I later found out was her screen debut.
The most memorable scenes for me were the under-the-table conversations between Adam and Amanda; especially the first when she lifts her skirt and gives him a peek of her slip. The home movies at the farmhouse were also quite cute, and of course the massage scenes. All of these captured the chemistry between Tracy and Kate that I found missing in many other parts of the movie.
There are certainly a lot of symbols of the impending sexual revolution in this picture-maybe this is a paper or an article in my future. The instance that sticks out most is the naming of Adam and A(man)da. Women in screwball and sex comedies have always interested me (I should post the paper I wrote on Carefree sometime soon...).
Like I said at the beginning, I'm not an enormous Katharine Hepburn fan. Adam's Rib certainly helped me to hate her a little less. Production stories maintain that Judy Holliday's shaking during her interrogation scene was not a character choice, but nerves because she loved Katharine so much. Hepburn also did a lot of campaigning for Holliday-urging Cukor to use Holliday's Reaction shots during the courtroom scenes over shots of Hepburn speaking. This helped Holliday nab the starring role in her break-out movie "Born Yesterday".

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