Thursday, November 7, 2013

Movie #222: Adam's Rib

Adam's Rib is a 1949 comedy starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, in which they play lawyers on opposite sides of a case. This rather sitcomy premise, though, is a little more involved than it sounds at first.

So: Adam Bonner (Tracy), an assistant DA, has a perfectly loving relationship with his wife Amanda (Hepburn), a defense attorney. One morning over breakfast, they discuss the odd case of Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday), who shot her husband, Warren (Tom Ewell) and was arrested for attempted murder of him and his mistress (Jean Hagen). Adam feels this is pretty cut-and-dried; she followed him to the love nest, shot at both of them, and wounded Warren.

Amanda, however, notes that if this had been a man who shot his unfaithful wife, he'd be acquitted. Adam agrees, though he doesn't like it any more than Amanda does (note that point, it becomes important later), and Amanda takes Doris' case. Adam is initially incensed, but agrees that Amanda has a right to make her argument - that women should be treated equally - and promises to cut her in 12 little pieces and feed her to the jury (this is evidently how members of the species homo lawyerus flirt).

As the trial progresses, though, their marriage becomes somewhat strained. It doesn't help that their neighbor, Kip (David Wayne) openly lusts for Amanda and writes a song about her, or that the papers are following the case closely. Amanda builds her case on two points: Doris was not, in fact, trying to kill anyone, just to scare the mistress; and besides, men get away with this kind of bullshit all the time.

Finally, the case is decided - not guilty. Adam leaves Amanda, but not because of her argument about equality, but because this women shot someone and won't be held to account for it. He comes back the next night and holds a gun on Amanda and Kip, and Amanda, terrified and angry, tells him he has no right - at which point he takes a bite of the licorice gun (ew) and says that's all he wanted.

They do get back together, because they really do love each other, but I think it's nice that their reconciliation takes its time in the movie - Amanda doesn't fold after the gun incident, and them getting back together comes with some emotional display from both.

I really enjoyed this movie. For one thing, Katherine Hepburn is amazing, and you probably already knew that. But her chemistry with Tracy is, understandably, amazing, and I love movies with snappy dialog. This wasn't a movie I'd heard of before, but I'm quite glad we own it now.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Bringing Up Baby