The Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon : Adam’s Rib (1949)

Hepburn and Tracy

Crystal over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood is hosting this blogathon all about Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Be sure to visit her site to read all the entries. I can’t wait to read them all myself. 

What do I think when I hear the names Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn? Well, I’d say that the first word which comes to mind for me is magical. Why magical? Well, it is because I think they are film magic together; this couple were the sort of film partnership that was only dreamt of in the industry, such screen teams really didn’t come along very often, and when one did arrive it was unforgettable and often unmatchable. What you see on screen between Tracy and Hepburn was the real deal, be it sexual tension, affection, or passion. 


Spencer and Katharine as Adam and Amanda in Adam’s Rib. Screenshot by me.

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn truly were one of the greatest couples in film history. They had genuine chemistry, perfect timing, and they fitted perfectly together on screen as a couple.

They also are able to make you feel the sexual tension and affection that their various characters feel for one another. This pair gave us some of the most romantic and sexy scenes in film history.

Both Spencer and Katharine were very successful film actors in the years leading up to their first screen pairing in Woman Of The Year. Once that film came out, the names of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn would be forever after linked in the minds of film audiences. The couple made nine films together. Many of these are considered high points in the romance and comedy genres. 

The pair were in love in real life, and their off screen romance undoubtedly accounts for the sexual tension, warmth and genuine intimacy that is so evident between them on screen. Unfortunately Spencer was married and he was also a Catholic, so despite his own unhappy marriage, there was just no way that he was getting divorced. A shame really, as he and Katharine were so meant to be together. Katharine helped him with his alcoholism and she also nursed him during his final years. They were the couple who should have been man and wife. Sadly they did not get a happy ending in real life.


Adam and Amanda in court. Screenshot by me.

Their characters in the films they made together faired much better when it came to a happy ever after. I’m writing about my favourite film that the pair made together. That film is Adam’s Rib (1949). Why this one over the others? Well for starters it is a very, very funny film indeed. There’s lots of physical (especially during some of the courtroom sequences)and verbal comedy to get you laughing.

The comedy is only half of the reason I love it so much though. I really love it so much for the films portrayal of marital happiness and for the affection between Spencer and Katharine’s characters.


The couple share a happy moment. Screenshot by me.

Their characters in this are a couple who are soulmates, best friends and lovers. The way they look at each other in this one just totally melts my heart. In many scenes in this they are so intimate with one another, that it’s like someone left the cameras rolling after a take, and that we are actually watching Spencer and Katharine in genuine private moments together.

The affectionate scenes between them both in this are my favourite moments out of all the films they made together. There is such warmth and obvious love between Spencer and Katharine in this one. It is beautiful to watch and really helps get across how their characters feel about one another.

I especially love them in the scene where they are cuddling up on the sofa after work one evening. Spencer’s character sees that Katharine’s is subdued and gently asks her if she is alright, and says he wouldn’t ever want to think of her not being alright. I think that might just well be my all time favourite Kate and Spence moment on screen (oh alright then, so maybe it’s a tie with their extremely sexy first meeting in Woman Of The Year.)  🙂

Adam’s Rib was written by husband and wife screenwriting team Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. Their inspiration for this story of married lawyers were William and Dorothy Whitney. The Whitney’s were a married couple who were both lawyers and they ended up getting divorced and marrying the clients they were each representing in a high profile case. Kanin and Gordon saw great potential in two characters who were married lawyers and who had to appear on opposite sides of the court in the same case. Thus Adam and Amanda Bonner were created. 

Adam (Spencer Tracy)and Amanda (Katharine Hepburn)are two well respected and much sought after lawyers. They both love their job, and will both give a case their all. The pair also happen to be married to one another. In court they verbally spar, but then they come home to one another and leave all that outside. These two are such a devoted couple and adore each other.


Adam and Amanda hug. Screenshot by me.

Across town, Doris Attinger (Judy Holliday) follows her husband Warren. Doris is convinced that her husband is having an affair. She catches him with another woman (Jean Hagen) and fires a gun at them, the woman isn’t hurt, but Warren is injured.

The Bonner’s read about the case and each of them has a different opinion on the case and about the people involved. They find it difficult to leave the case alone when Amanda is hired to defend Doris and Adam finds out he is prosecuting the case. Cue arguments, verbal sparring, flirtation, and an extremely spectacular battle of the sexes in the courtroom. Can the pair stop this case from impacting on their personal life?

The talented (and quite often overlooked in comparison to other actresses of the time)Jean Hagen and Judy Holliday both steal all the scenes they are in as the two very different women in Mr. Attinger’s life.

David Wayne is both amusing and annoying as Kip, he is a song writer who fancies Amanda and flirts with her to wind Adam up (he succeeds!). I want to slap Kip so many times, he is just so nosy and annoying.

As for Spencer and Katharine they are both terrific here, and they also look like they are having a great deal of fun in this one.

My favourite scenes are the following. Adam and Amanda talking to each other under the table in court. All the scenes where they debate in court. Amanda putting her head on Adam’s knee when she sees he looks angry and uncomfortable during the scene where they watch home movies. The liquorice gun scene. The massage and slap scene. Adam asking Amanda if she is alright, and saying that he would never want to think of her not being alright. The female weightlifter lifting Adam above her head. The footage from the home movies.

This is a funny and romantic film featuring memorable performances from the entire cast. There’s also plenty of witty dialogue to be enjoyed, and of course there is that undeniable Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn screen magic to enjoy.

The Bonner’s await you in court. Any other fans of this film? Please leave your comments below.

As a bonus here are the five films in which I think Katharine and Spencer each give their best performances.


Katharine Hepburn

 Long Day’s Journey Into Night

 Woman Of The Year


The Philadelphia Story

The Lion In Winter


Spencer Tracy

Bad Day At Black Rock

Adam’s Rib

Boys Town

Woman Of The Year

Inherit The Wind


          Here are my five all time favourite Tracy and Hepburn films.

     Spencer Tracy

        1- Woman Of The Year

2- San Francisco

3- Boys Town

4- Adam’s Rib

             5- Men Of Boys Town


        Katharine Hepburn

1- Summertime

2- Holiday

3- The Lion in Winter

4- Woman Of The Year

5- Adam’s Rib










18 thoughts on “The Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon : Adam’s Rib (1949)

  1. CanterburyTale

    Adam’s Rib is my absolute favourite of the Tracy-Hepburn pairings, not only for their wonderful contributions, but the superb Judy Holliday as well.I always enjoyed Spencer Tracy in comedies (his performance in Father’s Little Dividend is an underrated gem), and he positively shines in Adam’s Rib. He was incapable of giving a bad performance.

    Katharine Hepburn was no less delightful in ‘Rib’, and I thoroughly enjoyed her in Morning Glory, Stage Door, Suddenly Last Summer and finally got around to watching On Golden Pond recently (after much deliberation as to whether or not to go to see it back when it was released). It was joyous, and both she and Henry Fonda were outstanding (I have no idea what took me so long!).

    I would say that Bad Day At Black Rock is probably Tracy’s best film and performance, conversely, I think that he was miscast, and therefore relatively ineffective as Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde.(It didn’t help that I had watched the superior Fredrick March/Miriam Hopkins version just the day before).

    Hepburn was never really one of my favourite actresses, but her work with Tracy (the no nonsense Ying, to her rather brittle Yang) is delightful, and always a joy to revisit. State Of The Union is next on my DVD watchlist, having fairly recently seen Keeper Of The Flame, Pat and Mike, and Adam’s Rib.Great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maddylovesherclassicfilms Post author

      Hey Canterbury. Hope all is well with you. Glad to find another fan of this funny and romantic gem. Glad you finally saw On Golden Pond, that film always makes me cry and laugh in equal measure. I also think Jane Fonda is excellent in that too.

      Tracy and Hepburn really brought out the best in each other on screen and complimented each other so well. I agree about Bad Day At Black Rock, he is excellent in that and I love his badass character in that.


  2. John Charet

    Great post 🙂 Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were always great. Glad to see you included David Lean’s Summertime and Sidney Lumen’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I am amazed you did not include Howard Hawks Bringing Up Baby though. Did you ever see George Cukor’s Sylvia Scarlet from 1935? Underrated. I love your Spencer Tracy list as well. Anyway, keep up the great work 🙂 I love the site 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maddylovesherclassicfilms Post author

      Hey John. Thank you for the kind words. Bringing Up Baby is a good and enjoyable film, but it isn’t a favourite of mine. I think Katharine is good in the film, but in my opinion she gave better performances elsewhere. Yes, I have seen Sylvia Scarlett but I didn’t enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Silver Screenings

    I adore Adam’s Rib, especially the scene where Judy Halliday confesses to shooting her husband.

    Like you said, Katharine H and Spencer T are wonderful in this film. They have great comedic timing and their tender moments are very touching. Wonderful choice for the bloglathon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michaela Owens

    Terrific choice! I adore this movie to pieces. It’s also my fave of the Tracy/Hepburn pairings. Everything about it is razor sharp and brilliant. Kate and Spence make me swoon so many times watching it. I especially love it when they’re making dinner and he slams the door on her and she swings it right back at him. So funny.


  5. Virginie Pronovost

    Adam’s Rib isn’t my favourite Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn film, but I love Kate’s character in it. She’s a true symbol of feminism! I really enjoyed your great article. We can really feel your admiration for these two 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Flapper Dame

    THIS was the first Tacy spencer film I watched- the part in which Spence freaks out Kate with the “GUN” in his mouth – I freaked just as bad a she did!!!! Classic Spence!! Classic! I’m gonna have to re-watch this film- been a while since Ive watched! Thanks for the push to get me to do so- gets me excited!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Le

    Adam’s Rib was the first film I watched with them, and I was really impressed by the true love they exuded on screen. I agree with you that Jean Hagen deserves more recognition and the talking under the table in court is a fantastic scene. I also really like the song Farewell, Amanda.
    Great article! Kisses,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

    Hey Maddy. Thanks so much for participating in the blogathon with your wonderful article. I’m really sorry for the late reply. As you know I’ve been sick, so haven’t been able to finish and reply to articles until now. I love Adam’s Rib”. It’s not my favorite of Kate & Spence’s, but it still is an exceptional film that I watch over and over.

    Don’t forget to read my late contribution to the blogathon. Here is my article below.



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