ADAM’S RIB ( 1949 )
This film is sparkling bubbling champagne!
Written by husband and wife screenwriters Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, the premise is brilliant: husband and wife attorneys prosecute and defend the case of a wife ( Judy Holiday – wonderful ) who shoots her philandering husband ( Tom Ewell – dryly funny ) as he’s in the clinches of his mistress ( Jean Hagen – I miss her ). Kanin and Gordon hand Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn a 100-karat script to die for on a silver platter and with a great cast to play with. David Wayne is good as the next door neighbor Broadway song-writer who has a crush on Hepburn; he is just enough of a threat and thorn in Tracy’s side.
But really, it’s the pairing of Tracy and Hepburn that aligns the stars in the heavens. There have been some great teams in Hollywood’s Golden Age: Powell and Loy, Astaire and Rogers, Flynn and deHavilland, Pidgeon and Garson. But Tracy and Hepburn rank supreme in my book. They are pros, stars in their own rights, strong personalities and equals,
really. Set at home and in court, they both expertly get to make their case for Man and Woman loving each other, respecting each other and sharing core principles. But also underneath this “Battle of the Sexes” story, is one lawyer working the case via the letter of the law ( no one should take the law into his/her own hands ), and another lawyer making it a cause for a woman to be able to be just as wrong as a man. “Adam’s Rib” directed by George Cukor was enjoyed by the audience at the Egyptian. Still laughing. Still getting it. And 66 years later, still relevant. It’s a pure Master Class in…everything.
Yes. Vive le différence.
CALAMITY JANE ( 1953 )
DORIS DAY – That’s all. If you’re not a fan, you might as well un-friend me. Now.
This was one of the movies I was most looking forward to seeing during TCM’s
film festival, so I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get there. Doris Day
on the big screen. << Sigh! >>
ALAYNA and I ain’t messin’ around, boy! Grainy, but we mean business.
Author Cari Beauchamp introduced Sunday morning’s film “Calamity Jane” and extolled the virtues of Doris Day. In fact, she advocates a letter-writing campaign to get Doris Day honored with an honorary Academy Award for her achievement in motion pictures. Day could do comedy, drama, she could dance and boy, could she sing. She could be the rootin’ tootin’ tomboy as she was as Calam, as well as suburban Mom to four rambunctious young boys in “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” or sexy in the 1955 film “Love Me or Leave Me.” She worked with some of the best leading men in Hollywood including Clark Gable, Cary Grant, David Niven, Jack Lemmon, Rod Taylor, James Garner, and of course, her Rock Hudson trilogy. She was No.1 in the box office for ten years in a row. I thinks she’s swell.
There are Doris Day fans in that
old young ‘gang’ o’ mine, so I saved seats for them for this crowded morning show – ( a perk for having someone in your group who’s a Spotlight pass holder who might occasionally do a favor). We all settle in and the movie starts with Doris Day singing “Whip Crack Away.” I look to my left and I see smiling faces. I look to my right and there’s my Texas friend Christy, in full ( authentic ) cowboy regalia, with hat and boots in tow. Seeing “Calamity Jane” was the best time I had at the festival. It made me happy. In this musical western Doris Day commands the screen. It’s HER movie and she holds your attention throughout. She’s engaging and animated, riding and cavorting around the saloon. She stays in character, even when she’s dolled up.
I saw an interesting panel at Club TCM led by Jeanine Basinger re: Films and Facts: Whose Responsibility? And the true story vs. this fictionalized version was a good candidate. But who needs truth when you have Hollywood. I just want to see Doris Day sing about the Windy City, the Black Hills of Dakota and her Secret Love. ( Ahhhh, her singing “Secret Love” makes my heart ache ev’rytime ).
As much as Doris Day can hold one’s attention, I realize she didn’t do it alone. She had the help of the big strong handsome baritone Howard Keel…a mountain of a man with a booming voice who acts pretty well. And speaking of pretty, Doris’ other co-star was Allyn Ann McLerie whose character has some lessons of her own to learn, while helping Calam discover her inner femme. I loved the saloon owner ( Paul Harvey ) and Dick Wesson, the entertainer with the non-gender specific name and Philip Carey ( another tall dark and handsome hunk ). There was no big audience sing-a-long ( though I did hear ya Christy ) but I’d say a good time was had by all. Everyone in the movie gets to be with who they’re supposed to be with and it ends with a happy Hollywood ending. It’s a feel good movie.
Now…I have a letter-writing campaign to do to the Academy. “Dear Academy, I write you