Adam's Rib


Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were one of Hollywood's greatest couples, on screen and off, and this acerbic comedy sees them operating at the peak of their form. They play husband-and-wife lawyers who find themselves representing opposing parties in a case of attempted murder - a wife who's taken potshots at her two-timing spouse. As ever with these two, much of the joy comes from seeing the irresistible force of Hepburn's patrician hauteur collide with the immovable object of Tracy's down-to-earth, redneck stolidity. But the movie's awash with added bonuses: there's a witty, caustic script, stylish direction from George Cukor and a supporting cast firing on all cylinders - not least Judy Holliday as the ditsy, gun-toting wife.

Some of the feminist arguments now seem a little dated, but Adam's Rib remains a template-setting classic. The showdown finale stands up well, the action culminating in a grandstanding courtroom face-off that demonstrates how the law - at least as conceived by Hollywood - isn't a matter of justice, but rather of rival displays of theatrics. Which may not be so far from the truth...

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