Adam's Rib (1949)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sophisticated Comedy  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin's witty and intelligent script (despite many improbabilities, such as the conflict of interest in having a husband and wife contest the same case, and the plausibility-defying circus-like theatrics that Amanda deploys in the courtroom) propels this funny and barbed courtroom comedy. The legal and gender-fueled debates at the center of the film may seem somewhat antiquated today, but the intelligence and wit that inform much of the film's dialogue are still surprisingly fresh. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn share an onscreen ease and familiarity usually reserved for long-married couples. Ironically -- given that the film is about the legal ramifications of a woman's shooting of her philandering husband -- they had become an extramarital item themselves by the time this film was being made. Judy Holliday gives an unexpectedly affecting performance as the woman wronged, while bug-eyed Tom Ewell is solid as her weasel-like philandering husband. However, David Wayne as the lascivious piano composer/neighbor of the feuding legal eagles gives the most impressive supporting performance. His best line? "Lawyers should never marry other lawyers. This is called inbreeding, from which comes idiot children and more lawyers." Technically, the film is very conventional. Outside of the opening sequences, in which George Cukor's camera roams the busy streets of rush hour New York, the film has a stage-like feel, with static shots of the battling spouses dominating the proceedings. Perhaps Cukor didn't want to distract us from the real star of the show, the clever and insightful Kanin/Gordon script.