This may be the best picture to recommend for anyone who wants to understand the magic that was Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. I am also very fond of the supporting performances.
Adam Bonner (Tracy) and his wife Amanda (Hepburn) are criminal trial attorneys. He works for the prosecution and she for the defense. He is assigned to prosecute dizzy housewife Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday) who shot at her husband (Tom Ewell) and his mistress (Jean Hagen) when she caught them together. Amanda gets a bee in her bonnet about the double standard applied to women in these situations and determines to defend Doris. At no time does anyone in the film point out the egregious conflict of interest that this entails on the part of both attorneys. Well, it’s a comedy so OK.
The film follows the Bonners at home and in court as they spar and exchange repartee about women’s rights and the law. A bit of conflict is thrown in due to their neighbor Kip Lurie’s (David Wayne) interest in Amanda. With Hope Emerson as a lady wrestler.
This is a funny film and features several tour de force performances. I especially like Tracy’s crocodile tears and, of course, the scene on the massage table. Holliday and Hagen make a delightful pair of ditzy broads. I have an irrational fondness for Tom Ewell and he is perfect here as always. A classic.
This marked Hagen’s film debut.
Adam’s Rib was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.