AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Adam's Rib
Alternate Title: Love Is Legal
Director: George Cukor (Dir)
Release Date:   18 Nov 1949
Production Date:   31 May--mid-Jul 1949
Duration (in mins):   101
Duration (in feet):   9,070
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Spencer Tracy (Adam Bonner)  
    Katharine Hepburn (Amanda Bonner)  
    Judy Holliday (Doris Attinger)  
    Tom Ewell (Warren Attinger)  
    David Wayne (Kip Lurie)  
    Jean Hagen (Beryl Caighn)  
    Hope Emerson (Olympia La Pere)  
    Eve March (Grace)  
    Clarence Kolb (Judge Reiser)  
    Emerson Treacy (Jules Frikke)  
    Polly Moran (Mrs. McGrath)  
    Will Wright (Judge Marcasson)  
    Elizabeth Flournoy (Dr. Margaret Brodeigh)  
    Janna deLoos (Mary, a maid)  
    James Nolan (Dave)  
    David Clarke (Roy)  
    John Maxwell (Court clerk)  
    Marvin Kaplan (Court stenographer)  
    Gracille LaVinder (Police matron)  
    William Self (Benjamin Klausner)  
    Paula Raymond (Emerald)  
    De Forrest Lawrence (Adam's assistant)  
    John Fell (Adam's assistant)  
    Sid Dubin (Amanda's assistant)  
    Harris Brown (Court attendant)  
    Brick Sullivan (Court attendant)  
    Will Stanton (Cabbie)  
    Danny Harvey (Office boy)  
    Paul Cramer (Stenographer)  
    Joe Bernard (Mr. Bonner)  
    Madge Blake (Mrs. Bonner)  
    Marjorie Wood (Mrs. Marcasson)  
    Lester Luther (Judge Poynter)  
    Anna Q. Nilsson (Mrs. Poynter)  
    Roger Davis (Hurlock)  
    Nancy Laurents (Photographer)  
    Ray Walker (Photographer)  
    Michael Kostrick (Photographer)  
    Tom Quinn (Photographer)  
    Dwight Martin (Photographer)  
    Ralph Montgomery (Photographer)  
    Louis Mason (Elderly elevator operator)  
    Rex Evans (Fat man)  
    Charles Bastin (Young district attorney)  
    Glen Gallagher (Criminal attorney)  
    Gil Patric (Criminal attorney)  
    Harry Cody (Criminal attorney)  
    George Magrill (Subway guard)  
    Bert Davidson (Subway guard)  
    Tom Noonan (Reporter)  
    Wilson Wood (Reporter)  
    David McMahon (Reporter)  
    Dan Quigg (Reporter)  
    Dick Cogan (Reporter)  
    Anthony Merrill    

Summary: Doris Attinger, a mother of three who is fed up with her husband Warren's philandering, arms herself with a gun, follows her husband to his mistress Beryl Caighn's Manhattan apartment and clumsily fires shots at the couple. Beryl manages to escape without injury in the shooting, but Warren is wounded. The following morning, attorney Amanda Bonner reads a sensational newspaper story about the details of the shooting to her husband Adam, an Assistant District Attorney, and an argument over who is at fault ensues. Adam, who is lovingly called Pinky by Amanda, disagrees with the assertion that she, who is called Pinkie by her husband, was acting out of a desire to keep her family intact, and that society uses a double standard between the sexes in infidelity cases. Amanda and Adam are soon afforded the opportunity to argue their differing opinions in a courtroom when Adam is assigned to defend Warren, and Amanda decides to represent Beryl. Following the first day of a contentious jury selection process, Adam and Amanda return home and settle into their daily routine until Adam tries to persuade Amanda to bow out of the case. Amanda reacts angrily, but their quarrel is interrupted by the arrival of singer Kip Lurie. Kip, a friend of the Bonners, quickly sides with Amanda and leaves after singing a new song he wrote for her entitled "Farewell, Amanda." The trial gets off to an explosive start when Amanda tests her husband's patience, first by calling attention to every prejudicial remark he makes, and then by coaxing his client to admit that he struck his wife and stopped loving her because she got fat. Later, when Adam tells Amanda that he is ashamed of her, Amanda decides to fight her husband with even greater intensity. Amanda's presentation of the case for the defense includes testimony from a number of female witnesses who are called to the stand to prove Amanda's point that there are many accomplished women in society. When Amanda signals one of the women, a circus performer, to demonstrate her skills on Adam, she does a spectacular series of backflips across the courtroom and then lifts Adam off the floor and over her head. The trial comes to a close with a verdict in Doris' favor, and Adam appears crushed about the outcome. Adam's reaction troubles Amanda and prompts her to visit Kip seeking comfort and advice. Kip, however, takes advantage of Amanda's vulnerability and makes a pass at her. Adam sees the silhouette of Kip and Amanda's loving embrace waiting on street below, and bursts into Kip's apartment with a gun pointed at both of them. After forcing Amanda to admit that he, like Doris, is wrong to use a gun to try to prove his point, he points the barrel of the gun, which is made of candy, to his mouth and takes a bite out of it. Adam and Amanda soon reconcile, but when Adam tells Amanda that he will be running for the post of County Court Judge on the Repubican ticket, Amanda asks if the Democrat opponent has been chosen yet. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: George Cukor (Dir)
  Jack Greenwood (Asst dir)
Producer: Lawrence Weingarten (Prod)
Writer: Ruth Gordon (Scr)
  Garson Kanin (Scr)
Photography: George J. Folsey (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  William Ferrari (Art dir)
Film Editor: George Boemler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Henry W. Grace (Assoc)
Costumes: Walter Plunkett (Miss Hepburn's costumes by)
Music: Miklos Rozsa (Mus)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec supv)
Special Effects: A. Arnold Gillespie (Spec eff)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles designed by)
  Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Production Misc: Charles Levin (Unit mgr)
Country: United States

Songs: "Farewell, Amanda," music and lyrics by Cole Porter.
Composer: Cole Porter

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 1/11/1949 dd/mm/yyyy LP2615 Yes

PCA NO: 14039
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Comedy
  Comedy
Sub-Genre: Domestic
  Legal
 
Subjects (Major): Battle of the sexes
  Lawyers
  Marriage
  Murder
  Public defenders
  Trials
 
Subjects (Minor): Acrobats
  Friendship
  Gunshot wounds
  Infidelity
  Jealousy
  New York City
  Singers

Note: The working titles for this film were Love Is Legal and Man and Wife . Adam's Rib was the sixth of nine M-G-M films in which Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were teamed. A Jun 1949 DV news item noted that M-G-M purchased the rights to the title from Paramount, which used it for an unrelated 1923 Cecil B. DeMille film. Screenplay co-writers Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon were married and often wrote in collaboration. Garson Kanin wrote an article about the film in the October/November 1989 issue of Memories and noted that the story of Adam's Rib was based on the lives of Ruth Gordon's friends, Dorothy and William Dwight Whitney, and actor Raymond Massey. The article also notes that the Kanins immediately thought of Hepburn and Tracy for the leads, and that Judy Holliday initially turned down her role in the film because she is called "fatso" in the script. Modern sources indicate that Hepburn deliberately allowed Holliday to steal the scenes in which they appeared together so that Holliday could show off her talent to Columbia executives, who were resisting the idea of casting her in a film version of the role she originated in Born Yesterday . Holliday did, in fact, star in that film, and won an Oscar for her performance (see below). An Apr 1949 HR news item noted that actress Carol Channing wanted to play the "comedy lead" in the film. May 1949 HR news items indicate that actor Scott McKay and producer Brock Pemberton were tested for roles, but they did not appear in the released film. A Jun 1947 HR news item lists Danny Schwartz in the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Adam's Rib marked the motion picture debut of actress Jean Hagen and the first film in nearly a decade for comic actress Polly Moran, a former silent and sound film star, who had announced her retirement from motion pictures following her role in the 1940 film Tom Brown's School Days (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4676). According to contemporary sources, some filming took place on location in various parts of New York City, including the Women's House of Detention at Greenwich Avenue and Tenth Street, where, in the film, "Doris Attinger" is taken after shooting her husband, and at Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin's farm at Newton, CT. In a Mar 1951 NYT article, actress Judy Holliday is quoted as saying, "I started off as a moron in [the play] Kiss Them for Me , worked up to an imbecile in Adam's Rib , and have carved my current niche as a noble nitwit." Cole Porter, according to Kanin's article, refused to write a song for a character named "Madelaine," the original name of Hepburn's character, so the name was changed to "Amanda." According to a Jun 1949 HR news item, Porter and M-G-M agreed to donate all profits from sales of the song "Farewell Amanda" to to the Runyon Cancer Fund. Modern sources note that M-G-M paid the Kanins $175,000 for the rights to their original screenplay. An Aug 1949 HR news item noted that Tracy and Hepburn had had "serious talks" with Gordon and Kanin about the possibility of performing Adam's Rib on Broadway. Adam's Rib received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. In 1973, the ABC Television Network aired a five-part series based on the film. The series starred Ken Howard and Blythe Danner as the husband and wife lawyers. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   5 Nov 1949.   
Cue   2 Jul 1949.   
Daily Variety   2 Jun 1949.   
Daily Variety   2 Nov 49   p. 3, 15
Film Daily   2 Nov 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Apr 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Apr 49   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   3 May 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   25 May 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jun 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 49   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 49   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jun 49   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jul 49   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Aug 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Nov 49   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   5 Nov 49   p. 73.
New York Times   26 Dec 49   p. 33.
New York Times   4 Mar 1951.   
Variety   2 Nov 49   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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