ADAM'S RIB (1949). Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy

Doris Attinger is on trial for the attempted murder of Beryl Caighn, the "other woman" who may be having an affair with her husband Warren Attinger. The defense is "heat of passion" or lack of mens rea because Doris caught Warren and Beryl in the act of adultery.

* * * * * * * * [Direct of victim, Beryl Caighn] * * * * * * * * ** **

Prosecutor: And then what happened?
A: And then I heard a noise, and then I--

Q: What kind of a noise?
A: Like a sound. Like a loud sound going off.

Q: Yes.
A: So I jumped up, and all of a sudden I saw her.

Q: Mrs. Attinger.
A: Yes.

Q: Say so, please.
A: Mrs. Attinger. She was comin' after me with this gun of hers, right in her two hands, so I guess I must have started to conk out or somethin'. [audience laughter] 'Scuse me, to faint or something. So then Mr. Attinger grabbed me, so's I shouldn't fall down, I guess, and then she, Mrs. Attinger, tried to kill me.

Defense: Objection. Will the court please instruct the witness to refrain from testifying to conclusion.

Judge: Sustain that. Jury, disregard reply. Strike from record. Witness will please confine herself to the recital of facts.

Q: What did she do?
A: Well, she shot me, at me. I mean, she tried to shoot me.

Q: How do you know that?
A: Because she did it. So then he jumped in front of me [?] Mr. Attinger, and I ran out in the hall hollering, and, then I fainted and--everything went black.

Prosecutor: Your witness.

Defense: Everything went black a little earlier, didn't it, Miss Cain?
A: What?

Q: I refer to the color of the black silk negligee you put on to receive Mr. Attinger.

Prosecutor: Objection. Irrelevant.

Defense: Not at all--

Prosecutor: What difference does it make what color she was wearing--

Defense: A lot--

Prosecutor: Oh, come, come.

Judge: Overruled.

Prosecutor: Exception.

Q: Were you wearing a black silk lace negligee?
A: Yes.

Q: Speak up, Miss Cain, we're all very interested in what you have to say.
A: Yes.

Q: What else?
A: What?

Q: Answer the question.
A: I can't remember.

Q: Shoes? Slippers?
A: Yes.

Q: Which?
A: Slippers.

Q: Stockings?
A: Yes.

Q: Think again.
A: No.

Q: Nothing else?
A: Yes!

Q: What?
A: A hair ribbon.

Q: This your usual costume for receiving casual callers?

Prosecutor: Objection.

Judge: Sustained.

Defense: Withdrawn. Uh, uh, Miss Cain, you said, uh, Mr. Attinger came to see you about--
A: --About another insurance policy. I said this already.

Q: Well, say it again.
A: Mr. Attinger came to collect on my policy and explain me another kind.

Q: You hold?
A: Straight life, 3,000.

Q: And he came to discuss?
A: Health and accident.

Q: Huh, he showed remarkable foresight in this, wouldn't you say?

[audience laughter]

Prosecutor: Would Your Honor instruct counsel to refrain from these sly and feminine hints to the jury?

Defense: I'll withdraw the question, Your Honor, on condition that the word "feminine" be stricken from the record.

Prosecutor: So be it.

Judge: So ordered.

Q: Miss Cain, a while ago you said, uh, um, [to court reporter] would you be kind enough to read me some of Miss Cain's testimony. Uh, she just fainted, I believe, for the first time.

Court reporter: [?] "So I guess I must have started to conk out or something. Excuse me, to faint or something. So Mr. Attinger grabbed me--"

Q: Ah, that's it, thank you very much. You said Mr. Attinger grabbed you.
A: Yes.

Q: Had he ever grabbed you before?
A: No.

Q: Never, before?
A: No.

Q: You're aware that you're under oath, Miss Cain, and that any false statement makes you liable to perjury.
A: Yes.

Q: Mr. Attinger had never touched you before this time?
A: Sure.

Q: Ahh!
A: We used to shake hands quite a lot.

Q: I see. Did you enjoy it?

Prosecutor: Objection!

[audience laughter]

Judge: Sustained!

* * * * * * * *[Cross of Warren Attinger, philandering husband]* * * * * * * *

Defense: ...And the year before that, what did you give your wife for her birthday?
A: Nothing.

Q: Nothing again. And the year before that?
A: I don't remember.

Q: You don't remember because there's nothing to remember.
A: Wait a second, it was a...

Q: Aw, husbands remember the gifts they give, Mr. Attinger.
A: Okay, so I didn't.

Q: Had she ceased to be a good wife to you?
A: Mm, she's okay.

Q: Mr. Attinger, do you wish to see justice done in this case?
A: Yes!

Q: All right then! Tell the truth. Do you love your wife? Tell the truth.
A: No.

Q: Did you love her before she shot you? Tell the truth.
A: When before?

Q: The day before.
A: No.

Q: When did you meet Beryl Caighn?
A: A year--maybe and a half.

Q: And when did you stop loving your wife? Tell the truth.
A: At least--three years?

Q: Why? Tell the truth.
A: She started getting too fat.

Q: Did you tell her about that?
A: Yeah.

Q: What happened?
A: She got fatter.

Q: Mr. Attinger,...did you ever...strike your wife?
A: Not much.

Q: Tell the jury yes or no.
A: Yeah.

Q: Knock her down?
A: What?

Q: You heard me. Did you ever knock her down? Tell the truth.
A: Maybe a couple of times she tripped, or slipped [chuckling]

Q: Scold her?
A: Well, uh--

Q: Tell the jury yes or no.
A: Yeah.

Q: Stay out all night?
A: Yeah.

Q: Do you consider yourself a good husband?
A: Yes!

Defense: [Half laugh] That's all.

Prosecutor: Your wife ever scold you?
A: Yes.

Q: Strike you?
A: Yes.

Q: Knock you down?
A: Yes.

Q: Did she ever stay out all night?
A: No. I wish she did.

Q: Never mind the comment. Just answer the questions.
A: What I'm doin' now. All day, all day.

Q: Now, listen to this very carefully. Did your wife ever threaten you?
A: Sure, yeah.

Q: When?
A: Every day.

Q: And, uh, what effect did this have upon you?
A: It made me into a nervous wreck.

Q: How else did she mistreat you?
A: In bed. She used to hit me in my sleep.

Q: How?
A: What do you mean, how? With her fist!

Q: Now you're, uh, sure this wasn't just your imagination?
A: You don't get a split lip from imagination. She used to wait till I went to sleep, then pop! pop! So then an argument. So then I'd go to sleep again, so then pop! pop!

Q: And this caused you great distress?
A: Yeah. Also sleepless nights.

* * * * * * * * [Direct examination of defendant, Doris Attinger] * * * * * * * *

Defendant: ...And I said, listen, Warren, I said, you can't have it both ways, you know, so make up your mind, and don't try to make some kind of part-timer out of me. He says, bite your tongue, fatso. So I said, you comin' home for supper? Then he says, I'll write ya a letter. So I said, you comin' home after? And he says, I'll put an ad in the New York Times personal column and let you know. So I says, don't get too sassy, Mr. Attinger. So he said, and don't you be lookin' at me so cockeyed, 'cause then I'm gonna have ta shake your head up to straighten'm out. So I threw it.

Q: Threw what?
A: The pot. So he left mad.

Q: And that was the last you saw him.
A: Till later, when I followed him up, caught him muzzlin' that tall job.

Prosecutor: Objection.

Judge: Sustained. Struck; jury, bear in mind activity not yet known.

Q: When you entered Apartment D, what did you see?
A: Them, clutchin'.

Q: How close together were they?
A: Oh, close. Together.

Q: No space between them?
A: No space.

Q: Where were her hands?
A: On his ears.

Q: On his ears?
A: One on each ear. Eh, maybe that's why he didn't hear me come in.

Q: And where were--his hands?
A: Who knows?

Q: You didn't see them?
A: Around her someplace.

Q: Did that surprise you?
A: No, I figured.

Q: But, it enraged you.

Prosecutor: Objection, please.

Judge: Sustained.

Q: When you found them, thus embraced, what happened?
A: Uh--it enraged me.

Q: Then what?
A: I pressed the gun.

Q: And?
A: Bang?

Q: Did you take careful aim?
A: I was too nervous.

Q: Did you aim at all?
A: I was too nervous.

Q: Did you at that time intend to kill Beryl Cain?
A: No.

Q: To wound her?
A: No.

Q: To frighten her?
A: Yes.

Q: To kill your husband, Warren Attinger?
A: No.

Q: To wound him?
A: No!

Q: To frighten him?
A: No.

Q: No?
A: No.

Q: In other words, you fired the pistol only to frighten Beryl Cain.
A: Yes.

Q: What was the point of that?
A: I have three children. She was breaking up my home. [sobbing]

******** [Cross examination] ****************

Prosecutor: That's right, Mrs. Attinger, you go ahead and have a good cry. But somewhere in between those sobs you find time to tell the jury who it is you're crying for. Is it for Beryl Cain, an innocent bystander to your sordid domestic failure, or is it your husband, driven ill by your shrewishness? Or is it your children, cursed with an unstable and irresponsible mother? Or could it be for yourself?--

Defense: I object to this pre-peroration, Your Honor, on the grounds that it's prejudicial to the defendant!

Judge: Aw, let it stand. I can't see that it much matters. Overruled.

Defense: Exception.

Judge: But do get on with it, Mr. Bonner, please?

Q: Your husband has testified, Mrs. Attinger, that you have frequent fits of temper. What have you got--

Defense: [loud objecting; voice partially drowned out]

Prosecutor: Oh, what are you going to do, object before I ask the question?

Defense: --the defendant is a kind of lunatic of some sort! Mrs. Attinger is a fine helpmate, a noble wife, mother--

Judge: Just a moment, please!

Defense: May I remind the court of the words of the poet Congreve--

[voices of Prosecutor and Defense drowning each other out]

Judge: [pounding gavel] Now just a moment! Read the question.

Court Reporter: "Your husband has testified, Mrs. Attinger, that you are subject to frequent fits of violent temper. Now what about--"

* * * * * * * * [argument over calling multiple witnesses] *************

Prosecutor: ...and represent the wanton waste of the taxpayers' money. Your Honor--

Defense: I have called these two witnesses to assist me in graphically illustrating my point. This woman is the equal of man, is entitled to equality before the law. They have been carefully selected to testify in this case, each representing a particular branch of American womanhood, for not only one woman is on trial here, but all women.

Prosecutor: Your Honor, I submit that not one of this long string of witnesses has any direct bearing on the case.

Defense: For years women have been ridiculed, pampered, chucked under the chin. I ask you on behalf of us all, be fair to the fair sex.

Prosecutor: We could be here a year.

Judge: Mrs. Bonner, couldn't you cover the ground with, say, three witnesses?

*********** [Dr. Brody] ************

Defense: Well, um--Dr. Margaret Brody, would you take the stand, please.

Court reporter: With this witness to be examined, the case will certainly continue for at least two or three days. With Your Honor's permission, I'll report that no new cases are to be added to our day calendar.

Judge: So ordered.

Bailiff: Put your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the evidence you should give to the court during this case be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

A: I do.

Bailiff: Please be seated. State your name and address.

A: Dr. Margaret Brody, 58 88th Street.

Q: Dr. Brody, would you be good enough to state your age?
A: 33.

Q: Your occupation.
A: Chemist.

Q: Now will you tell the court what physician or position you now hold?
A: Gladly. The chief consulting chemist, Institute for Advanced Studies; Director, Brody [?] Laboratories; [?] consultant, United States Army Chemical Warfare Service; advisor to supply officer, British Embassy; Director of Chemical Field Research, United States Department of Agriculture. That's this year.

Q: Now, will you tell the court what degrees you have?
A: Well, let's see...A.B.B.S. in law, M.A., Ph.D., M.D. Columbia, then, uh--do you want the European ones, too?

Q: Please.
A: Well, [long title in French]--

* * * * * * * * [Direct of McGrath] *****************

Q: I see. Now, how many months have you been foreman, Mrs. McGrath?
A: Seventeen.

Q: And this promotion placed under you how many?
A: 383.

Q: Any men?
A: Mostly.

Q: They didn't complain?
A: Couldn't. Seniority.

Q: Does your husband object to your employment?
A: No.

Q: Is he employed?
A: Yes.

Q: Where?
A: Under me.

[audience laughs; judge pounds gavel]

* * * * * * * * [direct of __________ ] **********

Q: Now just what do you mean by show business, Miss [?].
A: Well, I mean all different kinds, show business: carnival, vaudeville, Ringling Brothers, nightclubs. I even did [?] once.

Q: Well, what is it that you do?
A: Well, it changes, see. Like take, for instance, tumbling. Now I used to do quite a lot of that, tumbling. But it gets corny, and I'm stuck with the role of flip-flapping around--

Q: Just what are they?
A: Well, it's--uh--a--uh--you start with a, a [she demonstrates, wows the audience; applause], that's it. But nobody wants it. It's corny. So then I got some trapeze work and high bar, but I'm getting a little heavy for that now, so a few years back I got into this lift act. I'm one of the only female understanders around

Q: What?
A: Yeah, we do this open pyramid where I support five men.

Q: Surely you're not the only female who does that?
A: Oh, no, I'm--oh, a gag! [Giggles] Hey, ya know, that's pretty good! Yeah, support, ho ho ho, hey, ya know, that was a good one!

Judge: [pounding gavel] Let's get on, counsel, shall we?

Q: Uh, yes, sir. Now, what do you consider your best physical or athletic accomplishment?
A: Mm, my lift, I guess. I was out last year, these three Olympic guys and me, just lift. You see, I've done the finish where I lift the champ with his barbells together--

Q: What?
A: Oh, yeah, this is a good act. You see, they lift, lift, lift, and then the last guy does a one-hand, 350 barbell lift. Then while he's still got it up, I come up and lift him and his barbell together. Peeled down, see, so they could tell I was a woman.

Q: Remarkable!
A: Yeah, I used to get a good hand.

Q: Can you lift any man?
A: Well, I--don't know.

Q: Could you lift Mr. Bonner?
A: Who's he?

Prosecutor: Your Honor, I object to this part. I call to counsel's attention that she's guilty of a grave offense against [?]. May it please the court, I strenuously object to the methods being used in this manner, Your Honor, if for no other reason that it's--it's an insult to the dignity of the court. Now, we all love the circus. I love it just as much as anybody else, I'm sure, but it seems to me--no, no, no...!

[defense and witness have been conspiring sotto voce; witness picks up prosecutor, chattering in triumph; audience in hubbub]

Prosecutor: Put me down, lady, put me down!

Judge: Come on down from there! Put him down!

* * * * * * * * [Defense Closing Argument] ****************

Defense: ...And so the question here is equality before the law, regardless of religion, color, wealth, or, as in this instance, sex. Law, like man, is composed of two parts. Just as man is body and soul, so is the law, letter and spirit. The law says, "Thou shalt not kill", yet man has killed, and proved a reason, and been set free. Self-defense, defense of others, of wife, of children, of home. If a thief breaks into your house and you shoot him, the law will not deal harshly with you, nor indeed should it. So here you are asked to judge, not, whether or not these acts were committed, but to what extent they were justified. Now, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I request that you join me in a revealing [?] I ask you all to direct your attention to the defendant, Mrs. Attinger. Now, keep looking at her, keep watching. Listen carefully and look at her, look at her hard. Now, imagine her a man. Go on now, use your imagination. Think of her as a man sitting there, accused of a life crime, a husband who was only trying to protect his home. Now hold it, hold that impression and look at Beryl Cain! Look at her. Look at her hard. A man, a slick home-wrecker, a third party, a wolf. You know the type. All right, hold that impression and look at--Mr. Attinger, and suppose him a woman. Try, try hard, ah, yes, there she is, the guilty wife. Look at her; does she arouse your sympathy? All right! Now you have it! Judge it so! An unwritten law stands back of a man who fights to defend his home. Apply this same law to this maltreated wife and neglected woman. We ask you no more than [? voice dips too low to understand]. Deep in the heart of South America there thrives today a civilization far older than ours, a people known as the [Indian name], descended from the Amazons. In this vast tribe, members of the female sex rule and govern and systematically deny equal rights to the men, made weak and puny by years of subservience, too weak to revolt. And yet how long have we lived in the shadow of the like injustice? Consider this unfortunate woman's act as though you yourselves had each committed it. Every living being is capable of attack if sufficiently provoked. Assault lies dormant within us all. It requires only circumstance to set it in violent motion. I ask you for a verdict of not guilty. There was no murder attempt here, only a pathetic attempt to save the home.

*********** [Prosecution's closing argument] **************

Prosecutor: First of all, I should like to say at the outset that I think the arguments advanced by the counsel for the defense were sound. Mere sound. [chuckle] Ladies and guntlemen of the jery--uh, that is to say, gentlemen of the jury, while I have been vastly amused by the entertainment provided here, I must remind you that it has absolutely no bearing on the case. Of course I'm going to ask you for a verdict of guilty as charged. You, not I, must speak for the people, and the people ask you to say, citizens abide by the law. No one can feel safe living in a community when there are reckless and irresponsible neurotics wandering about its thoroughfares armed with deadly weapons. You must deal with criminals as though they were--

Defense: Objection! [yelling]

Prosecutor: You must deal with criminals--sit down, Pinky! I didn't get up and interrupt you every time you made a point--

Judge: [pounding gavel] That's enough!

Court recorder: I didn't get his last. You said, "sit down" something.

Prosecutor: Uh, no matter, no matter, no matter.

Court recorder: May I have it for the record, please?

Prosecutor: I said, "Sit down"--"Pinky".

Court recorder: "Pinky"?!

Prosecutor: Yes.

Court recorder: What's that, a name?

Prosecutor: Yes.

Court recorder: Whose?

Prosecutor: The counsel for the defense.

Court recorder: Oh. Is that a "y" or an "ie"?

Defense: "Y" for him, "ie" for me.

Prosecutor: C--Can we get on with it? What was your objection, Pinkie--Counselor?!

Defense: I object to the characterization of the defendant as a criminal. A strange appellation indeed, for one who has an unblemished record as a citizen, wife, and mother!

Judge [trying to fit a word in edgewise]: ...Now I have ruled!

Prosecutor: The court has ruled!

Defense: All right--Pinky.

Prosecutor: Well, uh, as I was saying, or rather, as I was hoping I would be able to say, uh, the purpose of any summation, it seems to me, in any lourt of caws, uh, in any court of caws, cour-uh, I beg your pardon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin again. Yeah. What is there for you to decide, one thing: was she trying to kill her husband, and Beryl Cain, or both? I smile. I find it a little difficult to proceed in this case without bursting into laughter at the utter plimsicity of the answer, and the puny excuse, well after the fact, that she was merely trying to frighten them! Simplicity! I resent, I resent any neighbor who takes the law into her own hands, and places a special interpretation upon it just for herself. Now, let's, let's take the character of this, uh, Doris Attinger. I'm afraid that's going to be a little difficult, because we haven't been told much about her, and we certainly haven't seen Doris Attinger in this courtroom. What we have seen is a performance, complete with makeup and c--costume. Coached by the counsel for the defense, she has presented a sweet face. What a sweet face. Crowned by a tenderly trimmed bonnet! I find it a little difficult to be taken in, Ladies and Gentlemen, because I happen to be the fellow who paid for the bonnet! And here's the receipt to prove it! Do you mind if I show that to the court and to the jury? I'd like to enter this as People's Exhibit Number 12! And also, Mrs. Attinger-

Judge: No objection?

Prosecutor: --I would like to have my hat back!

[Defendant cries out; audience in hubbub]

Judge: Mr. District Attorney! You will conclude your summation without further demonstration!

Prosecutor: Now, any further attempts for the counsel for the defense to turn this into a circus...!

* * * * * * * *