Monday, June 14, 2010

No. 97: Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

Director: Howard Hawks

Screwball comedy – the phrase makes you think of everything from throwing pies to rapid-fire dialogue. In general, funny stuff. Are these things still funny today? Do obscure 1930’s jokes still make people laugh? Most screwball comedies seemed hilarious when they were made, but many don’t stand the test of time. Well, let me tell you folks, Bringing Up Baby goes above and beyond the test. I’ve seen it at least three times before, and watching it again still made me laugh out loud.

Professor David Huxley (Grant), a paleontologist, accidentally meets Susan Vance (Hepburn) and quickly gets mixed up in her various hare-brained schemes. Toss a leopard named Baby into the mix and soon David is missing his own wedding, off to Connecticut with Susan and Baby, and has lost the precious last bone of his museum’s Brontosaurus. Susan falls in love with Huxley, who is utterly oblivious and wants to return to his rather chilly fiancé in New York. After several wacky mishaps Huxley makes it back but is jilted by his fiancé. When Susan tracks Huxley down to bring him the missing bone, he realizes he loves her too, and all is settled atop the shaky Brontosaurus.

After three viewings of Bringing Up Baby I consider myself an expert, so let’s look at my expert opinions.

1) This movie is quite, quite good.
2) This movie is very funny, and has withstood time and changing senses of humor.
3) It should totally be higher up on the list. Really.
4) Cary Grant is never cuter or funnier than when he’s wearing glasses and perched on top of a dinosaur skeleton.

There are so many reasons to love this movie, and so few reasons not to. Unless you’re my dad, who usually has great taste in movies. For some reason, he doesn’t like Katharine Hepburn comedies. This is how our conversations go:

Me: Dad, how can you not like any Katharine Hepburn comedies. They’re classics.

Dad: Ehh…she’s annoying.

Me: No Dad. It’s her style of acting, it’s supposed to be funny!

Dad: No. It’s annoying.

Me: That’s irrational! You can’t just dismiss all those movies because you don’t like her voice.

Dad: Yes. I can.

So he’s not the most open-minded viewer when it comes to Kate. But if you keep an open mind to this movie, I guarantee you’ll find something you like.

In short, if you like:

* Katharine Hepburn talking a mile a minute
* Cary Grant in amazing nerd glasses
* The cutest leopard you will ever see
* Cary Grant’s fluffy negligee (long story, watch and find out)
* Great supporting actors, like Barry Fitzgerald and May Robson
* Brontosauruses (Brontosauri?)

…then you’ll definitely like Bringing Up Baby. And if you don’t like those things and are a cold-hearted humorless person, I still want you to watch it, it’s that good. You won’t regret it. And if for some crazy reason you don’t like it, you can come gloat in my face along with my anti-Katharine-Hepburn-comedy dad.

Love you Dad!

Even though it makes me sob, I love our next movie, No. 96. The Searchers (1956), starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford. One of the most beautiful films ever made, with a heartbreaking story and wonderful performances from all. Stick around and read about it!


  1. Since you recommend, I must run to blockbuster and rent it!!

  2. "I can't give you anything but love, baby..."

    The movie is 72 years old and I've probably seen it six or seven times - but I still laugh out loud, in all the same places, every time. Now that's staying power.

  3. I looooove this movie! "Oh look, David, I was born on the side of a mountain."

    And my sweet husband, normally also with flawless taste, can't stand dear Kate either. Alas.

  4. What a relief to have a comedy to review after the powerful Unforgiven.

    Love how you worked your dad into the review.

  5. I totally agree this movie should be higher on the list! So happy you liked it. It's on my Top Ten all-time favorites.

    LOL re: dad. Nobody's perfect (heh). Wondering if he would enjoy the film Holiday starring Hepburn and Grant, which deals with some interesting class issues and her voice isn't as developed as it became later.

  6. I can't stand to watch a certain on-TV cook because of her voice (her initials are RR), so I have to respect your father's choice.

  7. I love Cary Grant in glasses! And I love all Katherine Hepburn comedies. Most of all, I love that you enjoyed this film. Fabulous review.

  8. One of my all time favorites!! A must see for any Cary Grant fan, even better than The Philadelphia Story or Arsenic and Old Lace.

    And I did consider Cary Grant when picking my next actor for Movie List. And I wouldn't even have to eat a cookie and he never once played a villains!!

    Excellent review my dear!!

    Jacqui Jacoby
    Twitter: JaxJacoby