Sports promoter Mike Conovan is so impressed with PE teacher Pat Pemberton that he prises her away from her the jinxing influence of her college administrator fiancé, Collier Weld, and she begins to fulfil her sporting and romantic potential.
In Woman Of The Year, Katharine Hepburn marked her first screen teaming with Spencer Tracy by playing a character who detested sports. In what proved to be their seventh and last outing for MGM, she essayed a sporting goddess, whose tennis and golfing prowess matched her own. Screenwriters Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin may have provided the duo with wittier material in Adam's Rib, but this is Tracy and Hepburn at their best, as their off-screen affection is more readily evident in their relaxed, precise performances.
Exploiting their friendship with the stars, Gordon and Kanin made choice use of Tracy's working-class Milwaukee chauvinism and Hepburn's patrician Bryn Mawr poise. But no attempt was made to stretch for laughs and this easiness was reflected in the loose structure, which concentrated more on banter than plot. Indeed, the picture is at its least convincing when it focuses on the subplot involving Tracy's crooked partners - although the role of Hank Tasling proved that Charles Buchinski (who would become better known as Charles Bronson) could do a nice line in Damon Runyon-like lowlife comedy. Aldo Ray was equally effective as a punch-drunk pug, but William Ching's controlling fiancé always feels like a contrivance designed to console producers and patrons who preferred their movies to contain a semblance of a story. George Cukor, however, was clearly more interested in the aesthetics and athleticism of Hepburn's various activities. He films each event with an almost documentary realism that he reinforces by the inclusion of such contemporary sporting legends as Babe Didrikson Zaharias (whose own career clearly influenced the writers), Helen Dettweiler, Gussie Moran, Betty Hicks and Alice Marble. But Cukor shared the overall sense of informality, as he filmed the action with a combination of fluid tracks and pans that found echo in the overlapping dialogue on the soundtrack. Sadly, Hepburn and Tracy were denied the opportunity to reprise such spontaneous comic elegance and Hollywood itself soon forgot the formula, as sex came to play an increasingly obvious part in gender comedy.
Not quite as fully realised as the classic Adam's Rib, but generally good.