The “When Women Wrote Hollywood” gang at… ADAM’S RIB Screening, Egyptian Theater, Hollywood




Co-presented by Stephens College, whose MFA in TV and screenwriting is designed to bring more female and minority stories into mainstream media through a low-residency graduate degree program.

“The Gordon/Kanin scripts also helped invent Katharine Hepburn’s popular culture reputation for female empowerment. Upon Gordon’s death in 1985, New York Times writer Mel Gussow wrote in his appreciation of her work: “Every time you enjoy Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn sparring in Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike, remember who created their characters and wrote their witty dialogue. Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin’s contribution to the symbiosis of the Tracy-Hepburn team is inestimable.” Biographers and critics of Hepburn often claimed that she based her independent women persona and characters on a combination of her mother and of Eleanor Roosevelt. I contend that the Hepburn was also, even if subconsciously, basing the women in her Tracy/Hepburn films on Ruth Gordon. As actress and writer Elaine May once observed to Kanin about his wife, “She really is about the only person who gives you the feeling that maybe it could be a woman’s world.”

Gordon and Kanin clearly had a feminist agenda at work in their films, one that focuses on the need for both members of a marriage to understand the inherent equality of the sexes and to respect the equal intellectual capacity of wives. When summarizing Kanin’s screenwriting career, author Richard Corliss says “Because of Kanin’s close collaboration with his wife on scripts written for another, very close couple – [Spencer] Tracy and Katharine Hepburn – the ‘marriages’ portrayed in Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike have a sense of natural familiarity and mutual respect rare in Hollywood domestic comedies.”

Read the full excerpt from When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry on our blog! 

Introduction by Cari Beauchamp. Join us after the film for a book signing by contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry.

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