Part of Weekend Classics: Katharine Hepburn.
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play Adam and Amanda Bonner, husband-and-wife attorneys arguing opposing sides in a case of attempted murder. Adam is assigned to prosecute defendant Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday) after she fires a gun at her philandering husband (Tom Ewell) and his mistress (Jean Hagen). Adam believes it's an open-and-shut case, but Amanda believes it would be considered justifiable attempted homicide if tables were turned and a husband had discovered his wife in an affair. She seeks out Doris and signs on as the accused’s defense lawyer. The trial’s verdict and ensuing events threaten to wreck the pair’s marriage in this romantic comedy whose advertising asked “Who Wears the Pants in Your Family?”
Written specifically as a vehicle for Tracy and Hepburn, ADAM’S RIB was the pair’s sixth film together. As with many of her films, Hepburn was closely involved in script development, and she and director George Cukor visited Los Angeles courtrooms to capture authentic details. She also advocated for Judy Holliday as Doris Attinger, a performance which led to Holliday’s starring role (and Academy Award) in BORN YESTERDAY.
“Mr. Tracy and Miss Hepburn are the stellar performers in this show and their perfect compatibility in comic capers is delightful to see… Plainly, they took great pleasure in playing this rambunctious spoof.” —Bosley Crowther, New York Times (1949) “The real and the fictional blur to salty effect in this minor classic, which, alongside THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (far less of a screwball), is the high-water mark of [director George] Cukor’s attempts to bottle up the battle of the sexes.” —Ian Nathan, Empire