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Originally titled Man and Wife then Love is Legal, Adam’s Rib was the sixth film that teamed Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. It was a big success for MGM and made more than five million dollars.
The movie also reunited Hepburn with one of her favorite directors, George Cukor. He was known for being a “woman’s director" because of his success with female-led stories.
“George Cukor was really my best friend in California. We made many pictures together – always happily. Must have had the same set of standards. We both adored the business. We loved to work. We admired each other,” Hepburn said.
1. Ruth Gordon helped write the screenplay.
Gordon, best known for her performances in Rosemary’s Baby and Harold and Maude, was one of the films co-writers along with her husband, Garson Kanin. The duo wrote four films together including two Tracy-Hepburn vehicles, Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike. When writing, they often began with long conversations. Kanin would then write everything down, and Gordon would either extensively edit or add entirely new scenes.
2. Spencer disliked his stunt.
In the film, Katharine Hepburn sets out to prove that men and women can be equal in everything. To help prove this, she pranks her husband by having a strong woman, played by Hope Emerson, lift him into the air. The actual stunt used wires, so Emerson didn’t actually have to support Tracy's body weight. Instead, all she had to do was steady him by holding his foot and buttocks. Nevertheless, Tracy was very uncomfortable. At one point, he said, “What are you doing down there?” Emerson, of course, blushed since she was touching his tush for the stunt.
3. Frank Sinatra sings a song.
The film originally had a different song that Hepburn didn't like. So she asked Cole Porter to write a new one. He agreed on the condition that her character’s name be changed from Madeline to Amanda, which was easier to rhyme. Porter then wrote “Farewell, Amanda” which Frank Sinatra lent his voice to. Only a small portion of the song is heard in the film. The song's master was reportedly lost.