Friday, February 26, 2010

118. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Howard Hawks
Written By: Hagar Wilde, Dudley Nichols
Main Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, May Robson, Walter Catlett


This is the definitive Cary Grant picture that I've been waiting for. While I didn't enjoy "She Done Him Wrong" or "The Awful Truth", this film, however, shows off the comedic talents of Grant to the fullest and add to that, the great Katharine Hepburn and director Howard Hawks, and you have got one hilarious film.

David Huxley, a mild-mannered paleontologist, is getting married in twenty-four fours to Alice Swallow. While David spends his final hours as a bachelor putting together the skeleton of a brontosaurus, he's relieved to find out that the final bone, the intercostal clavicle, has just been discovered and his dinosaur is complete. The only other thing that could make David happier on this day, is if his meeting with Alexander Peabody goes well. If the meeting goes well, then Peabody could persuade his client, Elizabeth Random, to donate a sum of $1 million to David's museum. Enter Susan Vance (Hepburn)...

David meets Ms. Susan Vance while playing golf with Peabody. She starts out by stealing his golf ball and playing off of it and then proceeds to drive off in his car, pulling David away from his gold game and putting the $1 million in jeopardy. Later that evening, David plans to meet with Peabody again at a restaurant later that night, but once again finds himself in the middle of a huge mix-up with the scatterbrained Vance. After she rips his coat and he rips her dress (both by accident), David misses his meeting again. The next morning David receives a call from Susan that she needs help in dealing with a leopard that her brother Mark has sent her from South America. The leopard is named, Baby, and is a tame leopard, but Susan will use any excuse in the book to get near David, whom she is rapidly falling for. David comes to her apartment, with his newly arrived intercostal clavicle in tow, and winds up being roped into taking the leopard to Connecticut, to Susan's aunt. Along the way, the information is revealed that Susan's aunt is the millionaire Elizabeth Random, and not only does David want her money for his museum, but Susan wants the dough as well. This is just a portion of the laughs that this movie conjures up and I won't spoil anymore, as the rest must be seen to be believed.

While the plot may sound a bit zany and all over the place, it's actually quite hilarious, as the film ties together all sorts of different plot lines and runs with them, in this mother of screwball comedies. This film still holds up well today, and in fact, was ahead of it's time really, as the film flopped upon release, forcing Hepburn to forfeit her RKO contract and leading to Hawks' firing from RKO. It's the little things in this picture, that really get the laugh out loud moments from me, from David's mild-mannered, fumbling speech, to Susan asking David "What's in the box?" (the delivery of that line just gets to my funny bone for some reason, as Hepburn spits it out in record time), to David's use of the word gay, as he dons a frilly, female bathrobe. Everything just comes together so wonderfully and there's enough content here to keep this picture trekking along right through to the last bit of picture perfect dialogue. Throw Grant and Hepburn together, add one part leopard, one part Asta, the dog and tons of laughs and you have got a serious winner on your hands.

RATING: 8.5/10 Hilarious movie, that is forcing me to take a closer look at the genre of screwball comedy and consume some of it's prime candidates, in my spare time.

NEXT UP: Stagecoach..."The Duke" swaggers into the pages of the "1001" book! This will probably get watched later tonight, so look for the review then.

February 26, 2010 5:20pm


  1. I am glad you liked Bringing Up Baby. I am not sure if I would have been able to forgive you if you didn't like this & The Awful Truth. :)

    But those two films (and It Happened One Night) are my top 3 Screwball Comedies.

    If you like Screwball Comedies then I also recommend three others directed by Hawks: His Girl Friday, Twentieth Century, & Ball of Fire.

  2. "His Girl Friday" is coming up, as THE first film in the book for the 1940's. If you read my review of "It Happened One Night" then you know I loved it. I'd have to cite "My Man Godfrey" as my favorite screwball comedy that I've seen.

  3. I love "Bringing up Baby" - it really turns Hepburn's weakness, her arrogant, bulldozer quality - and uses it to great comic effect.

  4. Oh yes Man Godfrey is definitely one of the great screwball comedies as well. :)

    Although I guess I specifically highlighted Hawk's screwballs because as a whole he is my favorite director of the genre.


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