Adam\'s Rib (1949) ***
Directed by George Cukor. Written by Ruth Gordon & Garson Kanin. Photography, George J. Folsey. Editing, George Boemler. Art direction, William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons. Music, Miklos Rosza, Cole Porter (one song). Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Jusy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne, Jean Hagen, et al. An MGM movie. 101 minutes. B & W.
The middle of the three George Cukor-directed Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movies- the other two being the serious "Keeper of the Flame" (1942) and the comedy "Pat and Mike" (1952). The stars are a married couple, he an Assistant D.A., she a lawyer. They find themselves in opposite ends as prosecutor and defender of dimwit Judy Holliday who tried to shoot her lamentable husband Tom Ewell who was philandering with bimbo Jean Hagen. Hepburn loads the situation (and the trial) with feminism, from speeches to witnesses, while Tracy admits no excuse for any kind of violence. The couple's relations suffer, but a trick by Tracy brings on happy ending.
Amusing movie has much gusto but some over-hammered parts. It was a launching pad for many performers: the most talented, unique Judy Holliday who steals the show as she did in all the movies of her too-short career; for Jean Hagen (film debut); Tom Ewell (his first major movie); David Wayne (his second picture) who here plays an insufferable, smart-alecky, wisecracking Broadway composer openly proclaiming his attraction for neighbor Hepburn. The Tracy-Hepburn relations tend to prolong their duo scenes, get protracted and could be a tad tedious. As I remember it, rather cutely those two call each other Pinkie and Pinkey. The ending is clever.
Major feminist films were rare in those days. Here the feminism is rather new but still at a transitional stage. Its proclamations climax as a cop-out in a still male-dominated finale, very much like that of the first Hepburn-Tracy film, "Woman of the Year" (1942), which was directed by George Stevens.