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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Adam's Rib
Adam's Rib
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Review by Heather Picker | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Battle-of-the-sexes films have become a comedic staple, and Adam's Rib is one of the best examples of the sub-genre. It opens with an armed woman following a man, barging into his hotel room, and opening fire. Cut to Assistant District Attorney Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) and his lawyer wife, Amanda (Katharine Hepburn). They wake up and read a newspaper story about the shooting which names as the gunwoman Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday). Her two-timing husband, Warren (Tom Ewell) was her intended target. He survives, wounded. The Bonners argue about the crime but resolve nothing, providing the groundwork for the rest of the film.

Once at work, Adam is assigned the case. Amanda finds out and does a bit of ambulance chasing to defend Doris (another of Judy Holliday's sublimely bubble-headed creations). Adam and Amanda prepare for court, unaware of how troublesome the trial will be for them both professionally and personally. Given the case because of his winning record, Adam firmly believes in the legal system--Doris did the crime and should be sentenced accordingly. Amanda presents a different story to the jury, making the case more about sexual politics than law. The courtroom becomes a circus and her strategy the bone of contention in their marriage.

The married screenwriting duo of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin accomplished a tricky feat with Adam's Rib, crafting a witty script while also giving serious focus to gender equality issues. Tracy and Hepburn, in their fifth film together, displayed their usual spirited chemistry, and are supported by one of the best comedic casts of the 1940s. Holliday is uniformly marvelous and Ewell appropriately whiny and smarmy, Jean Hagen makes the most of her scenes as his mistress, Beryl, and David Wayne steals scenes as Kip Lurie, a singer/songwriter neighbor of the Bonners. George Cukor's direction is masterful; the only misstep comes in an unnecessary sequence that finds Amanda questioning a series of women unrelated to the case.

Picture: Adam's Rib is presented in standard, full-frame format preserving its original 1.33:1 screen aspect ratio. The transfer is outstanding; the picture is sharp and the contrast excellent.

Audio: Adam's Rib is a dialogue-driven outing done justice by the mono soundtrack. The dialogue is crisp and clear and, unlike many DVD releases of older films, the volume doesn't require frequent adjustment.

Extras: MGM brings another one of their classics to DVD with little fanfare. The only supplementary feature is the original theatrical trailer. Other features are all standard: English and French language tracks, English, French and Spanish subtitles, and English captioning for the hearing impaired, as well as scene selections.

Conclusion: A delightful romantic comedy, and a standout in the impressive line-up of Tracy and Hepburn teamings, Adam's Rib is a must-own for fans of classic films.
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