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Adam's Rib-- Comedy or Drama?

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message 1: by Colleen (last edited Mar 06, 2008 09:33AM) (new)

Colleen | 8 comments I am a huge fan of Katherine Hepburn. I adore her spunk and independence, in an era when women were not supposed to be outspoken and opinionated.

Watching Adam's Rib has brought a different nuance to my appreciation of her forward-thinking feminist roles. In the movie, billed as a comedy, Hepburn stars opposite Spencer Tracy. Both are lawyers-- he's an assistant DA, she's a defense attourney. The "romantic comedy" hitch lies in the awkwardness that arises when both take on the same murder case. He's prosecuting a woman who shot and injured her husband when she discovered him in a love tryst. Hepburn takes the case and turns it into a cause, arguing that if the sexes were reversed, ie, if a man shot a woman for having an affair and wrecking a home, he would be let off easy.

Maybe the time is so different now that it's hard for me to get riled up about Hepburn's argument, but I disagreed with the equality of the genders defense from the start, and found myself agreeing with Tracy-- the law is the law is the law. This woman shot her husband, and she should face the same consequences of anyone who commits assault, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Yes, the husband is a jerk. But that doesn't make it ok to shoot him.

Also, I felt angry at Hepburn for basically using her husband. They had such a wonderful relationship; that's set up in the first moments we see them together. They're supportive, playful life companions. Hepburn betrayed that supportive relationship during the case. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think I would take on a case opposite my husband in the first place. It seems uncouth and unsupportive. Furthermore, Hepburn's character treats her husband like dirt once they're in the courtroom, purposely embarassing him and lambasting him to get the jury on her side. (For those of you who have seen the film, I felt this most keenly when Hepburn had the body builder lady pick up Tracy in the courtroom, mortifying Tracy and entertaining the rest of the courtroom.) It's all a media play for Hepburn's character, and I just felt like she was being unfair and selfish throughout. Causes are important, but I don't think it's right to hurt our dear ones while we fight for them.

In the end, this felt more like a drama than a comedy to me. The screenplay is excellent, as is the acting, but I felt angry at Hepburn's character at the end of the film, I guess because I felt she was playing dirty. Has anyone else seen this film? If so, can you provide some background info to help me love Hepburn's character more?

message 2: by Cathy Berry (new)

Cathy Berry (berrygirl55) | 30 comments This is a classic!Have loved this since I first saw it as a kid. I think this is the best of the Hepburn/Tracy films

It's always hard to forget your contemporary sensbilities when viewing/reading a "period" piece.Remember that in 1949 the fact that she was an attorney was pretty radical.

I think you'll enjoy this more if you can watch it again with a lighter heart and less intellect. While comedies often deal with serious subjects, they are comedies. Things are exaggerated/overblown & bits are done strictly for comic affect. Sometimes though something hits a nerve with you & you just can't get past it.

Hope you watch this great film again & get more pleasure fom it!

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