Friday, January 27, 2012

Adam's Rib (1949)

Adam's Rib (1949) ★★★★★ 4/5

Amanda Bonner (Katharine Hepburn) and Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) are a husband and wife team who find themselves on opposing sides in a trial where a woman (Judy Holliday) has shot her adulterer husband (Tom Ewell). Amanda takes interest in the case when she reads about it in the paper and feels that the woman is being treated as a criminal while if it had been a man in her position the woman would still have been viewed as the criminal. Adam is a prosecutor and the case lands on his desk. It is his job to prove her guilty.

The movie starts off fast paced and fun. The two are seen at home, happy and in love. They have an ideal marriage and are quite happy in their lives. Their playful banter transcends time and is very easy to relate to even 70 years after the film's release. Even the themes of the movie hold relevant 70 years later. Equality between men and women has not changed all that much when it comes down to how each sex is perceived. While there have been changes in women's roles in voting, politics, work and so on, double standards still exist.

When watching the film however, some differences between 1949 and 2012 are nearly forgotten. Hepburn is well known for her feminist position in life. She was an avid sportsman (or sportswoman) and this is touched on in the film. She advocated woman's rights and demonstrated that women could do anything. In this case, she demonstrated that women could also hold prominent positions in the working world. During one scene in the courtroom, she brings other women on the stand to further prove the prominence of women. One was a renowned scientist, another a circus performer with the strength of a man, and a third with multiple degrees. This aspect of the film defies the notion that women of the 40's were confined to homemaking.

The tension of the case and the difference of opinions regarding the case begins to affect the couple and they almost end up losing each other. It doesn't help that their neighbor, Kip Lurie, (David Wayne) is in love with Amanda and writes a song that ends up being a huge hit on radio. Kip is most unlikable and obnoxious.

Hepburn and Tracy are delightful in this film, but Holliday is magnificent. She plays the blonde bombshell beautifully. One of the highlights for me in the film was when Amanda first met with her. Her naive attitude and retelling of how she shot her husband was flawless and far more gripping or smoothly portrayed then anything you would see on a current episode of CSI or Law & Order.

This film is worth seeing and is a fine look at the social dynamics of men and women in 1949. The story is well done and enjoyable.

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