Director: George Cukor
Original Release: 1950
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Make no mistake, this is Judy Holliday's movie. You could say she stole the show but no one else even stood a chance. Her transformation from abused and diminished to confident and self-actualized is wonderfully satisfying. In the beginning, her pitiful, screechy voice grates. By the end, it is her triumphant cackle. She won an Oscar but that hardly seems enough. Without a doubt, hers is one of the most extraordinary screen performances you'll ever see.
And it almost didn't happen. Holliday performed the role on stage to great acclaim but, of course, the studio executives wanted a more established actress for the movie. Fortunately, Holliday had influential admirers. Cukor, Kanin, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy arranged for her to get third billing in Adam's Rib, significantly enhancing her resume. Jean Hagen, also in the Adam's Rib cast, later won the role of Lena Lamont in Singin' in the Rain by doing a dead-on Judy Holliday impression.
The film has other selling points, including a loving tour of early '50s Washington, DC. Holden's always charming and Crawford is well cast. But it's Judy's movie.