The 1949 comedy “Adam’s Rib” from Metro Goldwyn Mayer was directed by George Cukor with the screenplay written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin. Starring: Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne and Jean Hagen.
In one of Hollywood’s most famous films based on the battle of the sexes; this time with the added twist of both of the characters being lawyers. Originally titled “Man and Wife” this Oscar-nominated screenplay that was written for the lively and unpredictable comedy set in the post-World War II years set the standard for comedies of today. More than fiction, the inspiration for the film was a story of the real William and Dorothy Whitney husband and wife lawyer team. They handled the divorce proceedings for actors Raymond Massey and Adrianne Allen and subsequently they divorced – and married their respective clients.
The simple plot revolves around a happily-married pair of middle-aged lawyers, whose marriage becomes strained while serving as trial attorneys on opposite sides of the same sensational news headline case. A woman is charged with attempted murder of her husband and Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) is the prosecutor, while his wife Amanda (Katherine Hepburn), is the defender.
Long before the Women’s Liberation Movement made headlines, this film brought feminist principles to the forefront with its display of stereotypical male vs. female issues, and although there is a definite conflict of interest that would probably mean this case would not take place in the real world, it is tremendously enlightening.
The not-so-dumb blond Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday) is the woman who is charged with the crime. And throughout the film, Adam does everything he can to prove his point and of course win the case. On the other side of the aisle, Amanda is just as determined to not only prove her that her client is innocent, but that it was the denial of her rights which caused her to act irrationally.
Adam is vexed about the fact that he faces Amanda in court, he doesn’t mind her being a lawyer, he just doesn’t like the face he is competing with her. Amanda makes it clear that she is representing the new facts of life; women want the freedom to reach for their goals and be treated with respect.
All in all the hilarious scenes that result from this “battle of the sexes” as both of the partners fight to see who will win the case is only second to their struggle to settle the case of who wears the pants in their marriage.