In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.
Slide 7: Adam's Rib (1949)
Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, after starring together in two films in 1942, Woman of the Year and Keeper of the Flame, became not only a much beloved onscreen duo but also an offscreen couple. They remained devoted to each other until Tracy’s death in 1967, but were never married as Tracy was a Catholic and thus would not divorce his wife. However, they were highly convincing as husband and wife in their third picture together, Adam’s Rib (1949), in which they played warring spouses, married lawyers representing opposing sides in a case involving a woman accused of shooting at her unfaithful husband. Tracy’s Adam is representing the errant hubby and Hepburn’s Amanda the spurned spouse, and their determination to win the court case spills over into a war of the sexes which turns their home into a battlefield. They slam doors, he slaps her hard on the bottom, she kicks him hard in the leg. The film tapped into prescient gender issues as it addressed the fact that Tracy (a self-professed “old-fashioned” man) needed to get used to the fact that modern women such as the redoubtable Ms. Hepburn were every bit the equal of men both at home and in the workplace. Tracy and Hepburn had their screen swansong in Stanley Kramer’s 1967 Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner as the parents who Katherine Houghton brings fiancé Sidney Poitier home to meet.