“ Genre: Comedy / Universal, suitable for all / Director: Howard Hawks / Actors: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Charlie Ruggles, May Robson, Barry Fitzgerald ... / DVD released 2007-06-04 at Universal Pictures UK / Features of the DVD: Black & White, PAL „
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Paleontologist Dr. David Huxley is tremendously excited to be able to finish up a four year long project. Finally! The intercostal clavicle bone he has been hoping for has come to light, and his brontosaurus skeleton will finally stand complete! Unfortunately for mild-mannered Huxley this is when the outrageous Susan Vance enters his life.
In the wake of confused chaos that seems to hover about Susan like an uncertain halo, her dog manages to make off with the prized bone which gives Susan just enough claim on Huxley to pull him into her world of pet leopards named Baby, escaped circus animals, million dollar endowments, midnight serenades and mistaken identities. With Susan's help, Huxley's loses his job, his frigid fiancee, his clinging sanity, his respectable place in society, and his patience along with his clothes and all-important brontosaurus bone!
"Now, it isn't that I don't like you, Susan! Because, after all, in moments of quiet I'm strangely drawn to you, but- well, there haven't been any quiet moments. "
This 1938 classic screwball comedy is still an amazingly entertaining film. Classics, even mere comedies, endure for a reason... they were crafted with skill. Although I have also seen good remakes of several classics, it is hard to modernize some of these mad-cap comedies. Alot of the social niceties and relevant topics of the time simply don't exist anymore. are not understood, or sometimes even recognized, by today's audiences. These little cracks can quickly become yawning rifts when dealing with something as subjective as comedy. Radioland Murders is an excellent example of a more modern film that captures the essence of these madcap comedies of bygone days.
When my kids were younger, I could rarely get them to watch any film that was done in black and white. They seemed to think it was beneath them, or so hopelessly outdated that it would surely be a waste of time. Bringing Up Baby was a rare exception for my kids, then aged 7-11. This comedy is such a delightful romp, the lines drawn fairly clear and simple enough that the majority of its humor still shines through. It actually kept all three of them curious and entertained right to the end! Excellent set ups, comedic timing, and deadpan deliveries through out help to make this a classic comedy. How often do you get to see two perfectly ordinary individuals serenade a leopard with "I can't give you anything but love, Baby"? Shame it wasn't the correct leopard!
"He's three years old, gentle as a kitten, and likes dogs." I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them?"
Neither stolid David nor the scatter-brained heiress, Susan, let up til Baby is back in his barn and the last bone is in place. Cary Grant was a much beloved actor and set the mark for leading men of his era. Despite his popularity as a love interest, his sense of comedy and tragedy is unparelled. If you like this one, I highly recommend viewing both Arsenic and Old Lace and Penny Serenade. Katharine Hepburn was a brilliant actress who also challenged women, on screen and off, to be strong, independent, free-thinkers who aren't afraid to take action or voice opinion. While eccentric Susan isn't Hepburn's "best" role, it is an amazingly funny and entertaining one! I don't think Baby went on to do any other films. Perhaps the essences of a truly good screwball comedy is artfully explaining "How can all these things happen to just one person?"
Bringing Up Baby is a famous 1938 comedy picture directed by Howard Hawks and featuring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. It apparently met with a lukewarm reception on its initial release but is now generally regarded to be a classic of sorts - not least for the sparkling and delightful comic chemistry between its two legendary stars - and was once described by comedian Harold Lloyd as the most perfectly constructed comedy film he had ever seen. There isn't too much of a plot to speak of in Bringing Up Baby which begins with bespectacled and unfeasibly handsome paleontologist David Huxley (Grant) at the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History pondering on the fact that he only needs an intercostal clavicle to complete the brontosaurus skeleton he has been working on for four years. David is engaged to his very proper and incredibly dull assistant Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) and trying to nab a considerable donation for the museum from Alexander Peabody (George Irving), associate of benefactor Elizabeth Random (May Robson).
While attempting to get into Peabody's good books over a game of golf, David bumps (quite literally) into ditsy socialite heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn). The eccentric Susan is a woman who doesn't take life terribly seriously and David's life is rapidly turned upside down when she becomes attracted to him and sets out to stop him marrying Alice at all costs. Susan claims she can influence Peabody to boost David's fundraising efforts and the mild-mannered paleontologist is soon on the way to Connecticut with her to deliver a tame leopard named Baby to her aunt. But that's just the start of the comic shenanigans in store for him now that Susan Vance has entered his life. "How can all these things happen to just one person?" the increasingly bemused David is soon prone to muse.
Although not quite as funny as its reputation would suggest, Bringing Up Baby is still a great deal of fun with a fast pace, plentiful inventive comic situations and the not inconsiderable charm of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn was considered primarily to be a dramatic actress at the time but her brilliant turn as the eccentric and free-spirited Susan Vance is infectiously silly and hugely enjoyable. The real joy of the film comes both from her wonderful performance and the exasperated reactions of Cary Grant's straight-laced David as his life escalates into ever increasing chaos. "Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan," says Grant in that unique voice. "Because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments!" The obtuse and frantic tone of the film is set early on when David's attempts to charm Mr Peabody on the golf course are ruined by the arrival of Susan who manages to both wreck his car and distract him from Peabody - "I'll be with you in a minute Mr Peabody!" becoming a reccurring line in the film.
Susan, who might well be completely mad, has to deliver a tame leopard sent from Brazil by her brother to an aunt in the Connecticut countryside and - having fallen in love with David - decides to drag him along with the promise of helping him secure his donation. "He's three years old, gentle as a kitten, and likes dogs," says Susan of Baby reading out the letter from her brother. "I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them?" The film piles on the comic mayhem with little respite and maintains a furious and entertaining pace. In lesser hands this might have become a little tiresome at times but the two stars carry it all off with gusto and a great deal of skill. It's great fun to see Grant send-up his impossibly suave image as David takes a dip in a pond ("When a man is wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond, he's in no position to run"), somehow ends up wearing Susan's negligee when about to introduced to her rich aunt and is eventually landed in jail with his eccentric admirer. "Anyway, David, when they find out who we are they'll let us out," says Susan. "When they find out who you are they'll pad the cell," replies David.
The lines and jokes come incredibly thick and fast in Bringing Up Baby with plenty of misunderstandings and sticky situations for the two central characters. Hepburn is great in the jail scenes as she impersonates a fast-talking gangster's moll and amusingly claims that "I was born on the side of a hill" after losing one of the heels on her shoe. Susan tells her aunt that David is called Mr Bone and creates a false identity for him that merely confuses him even more and his encounter with Susan's snobby aunt (wearing a negligee) approaches an almost Marxian (that's the Marx Brothers not Karl!) plateau of verbal dexterity, silliness and identity confusion. Asked who he is, David replies, "I don't know. I'm not quite myself today" before explaining his unusual attire by declaring that he just went gay all of a sudden, gay primarily meaning happy at the time but a risque joke nonetheless. Asked what he is doing sitting on the stairs, David replies, "I'm sitting in the middle of 42nd Street waiting for a bus!"
Although a free for all comedy that doesn't take place in anything approximating a real world, Bringing Up Baby does also work on another level as a love story between two very different people. Virginia Walker as David's fiancee Alice is established as the polar opposite to Susan in the opening scenes. She announces there will be no honeymoon, calls him Professor and shakes his hand as if they were business acquaintances. "Our marriage must contain no domestic entanglements of any kind," instructs Alice. You understandably want David to ditch Alice and end up with Susan. "The love impulse in men frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict," Susan suggests when David starts to become irritated by their chaotic adventure. The film is undoubtedly lifted a notch by the presence of Grant and Hepburn who both look great and work wonderfully well together. Their natural chemistry and timing is perhaps best indicated by a scene where Susan loses part of her dress in a swanky dining room and is helped to hide this fact by David staying in close proximity. Throughout the 100 or so minutes running time of Bringing Up Baby it never fails to be a delight to see these two great stars together onscreen as they banter, bicker and endure all manner of unusual situations. Recommended for any fans of either actor who have yet to see this.
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this comedy. David Huxley (Grant) is a paleontologist who needs to finish an exhibit on dinosaurs and thus land a $1 million grant for his museum. On the golf course where trying to persuade a possible benefactor he bumps into Susan Vance (Hepburn) and a series of crazy events ensue as she tries to make him hers including baby leopards, rampant dogs, a dinosaur bone, cross dressing, jail.. the list goes on. But don't let me spoil it.
The film was directed superbly by Howard Hawks. it is fast paced and quirky throughout never letting up or offering a breather. Some of the set pieces are frankly hysterical. Grant and Hepburn are sensational. Both are perfectly pitched with the physical comedy elements (of which there are many) and the dialogue between the two sizzles. Special mention must go to the leopard who performs wonderfully throughout.
The only downside and what may alienate some modern viewers is that the film on occasion does rely quite heavily on slapstick. I suppose this is a taste thing - if you don't like people falling over and getting into scrapes this may not be for you. if you want a generally light hearted and very entertaining romantic screwball comedy - get watching! A classic in my book.
To fully understand Bringing Up Baby, one first needs to gain context, concerning both its director, Howard Hawks, and its initial reception and subsequent re-evaluation throughout the years. Howard Hawks is a man that has dabbled in numerous genres - horror and sci-fi (The Thing from Another World), the Western (Red River), and of course, the romantic comedy, with Bringing up Baby. Of all of his generic fleeting, there is one thing that is a mainstay - the idea of the Hawksian woman, an extremely powerful woman that is driven and independent, and manages to supercede the male. In Red River, this would be coming between the silly characters played by John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, and in Bringing up Baby, this is through Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), a free-spirited, independantly wealth woman, who proceeds to make an absolute fool out of the uptight, sexually repressed character of David Huxley (Cary Grant).
The film very much revolves around David looking to find the final bone for his dinosaur exhibit at the museum, and this is a rather cheeky allegorical reference from Hawks so as to illustrate that David has all the bones except that the one that matters in romantic exchanges, given how the Hollywood production code meant that flagrant reference to sexuality was a big no-no. He is an emotionally castrated man, soon to marry the dour and emotionally staid Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker), whilst Susan represents the exact opposite - she is flagrantly sexual, and although he initially rejects this through shock, there's no doubt that in it David finds something incredibly alluring, despite the potential financial loss if he is distracted from finishing this exhibit and marrying into Alice's wealthy family.
This is a devilishly funny film and shows that not only is Hawks of the most diverse filmmakers of all time, but his famously rigorously work ethic produced brilliant results. Hepburn and Grant have superb chemistry, and Hawks's famous overlapping dialogue produces great results once again!
This absurd screwball comedy is fun and entertaining thanks to the complimentary performances from Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, as well as a witty, quick-fire script.