David Huxley is waiting to get a bone he needs for his museum collection. Through a series of strange circumstances, he meets Susan Vance, and the duo have a series of misadventures which include a leopard called Baby.
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Strict routine man meets free-spirted, sometimes absent-minded woman. Man doesn’t like woman. Woman inadvertently follows man everywhere and jeopardizes man’s chance at getting the last bone to complete his paleontologist work. Then, woman tricks man into looking after her pet, sent from her aunt…
Howard Hawks makes a fantastic screwball comedy directing Bringing Up Baby.
Hawks, the writer of 1932’s Scarface, brings comic timing, meaty characters and a meaning to the film which lies just above the viewer’s sub-consciousness. He has written a film noir and directed several comedies and dramas. Not many directors or writers can pull this off. Hawks has been doing this juggling act since 1926. Both genres have gained tremendous achievement for him. To help him with this accomplishment he has brought in two of Hollywood’s Golden Age stars - Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.
It is not the only time Hawks has worked with Cary Grant. Under both their belts they have His Girl Friday and I Was a Male War Bride. Bringing Up Baby is the top of the list. The sharp witted writers are Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde. They also provide a clever metaphor to reveal character.
Dr. Huxley (Grant) finds his true character without the slow, motionless, quiet, thoughtful moment’s clichés. It is shown through trying on another person’s clothes and mixed identities. The empathy comes from the simple emotion of things not going to plan. Susan Vance (Hepburn) in her own special way helps his character on his journey, but that doesn’t mean she steers him out of comical situations- on the contrary.
Themes of free living versus strict routine and acceptance of each other add substance and a certain feline adds thrills. The thought of the writers having fun while writing this isn’t just a passing thought.
Bringing Up Baby wasn’t a hit when first released. To be precise, it was a box-office flop. It motivated Hepburn to buy out her contract from RKO Pictures. However, in recent times it has staggeringly climbed to critical acclaim- positioning itself at number fourteen in the AFI’s 100 Laughs chart.
The snappy Cary Grant and the innocent but stern Katherine Hepburn concocts brilliant chemistry. Another film starring the two- The Philadelphia Story proves this. Although, at times you do find yourself thinking is Cary Grant playing Cary Grant…Just ask Tony Curtis in Some like It Hot.
The pacing with its punch, punch style one liners and sudden inciting incidents, matches today’s standards in terms of plot. The style is sophisticated. Some may say too sophisticated for today’s comedy films. Modern audiences of the 20s and 30s people might not be familiar with this level. This kind of style is more like lost treasure now. Sniff, sob, sniff.
Just one word of warning about the usage of a certain word by Dr. Huxley while, wearing one of the mismatched clothes and, explaining to Susan’s aunt.
The film itself has a U certificate, but the 30s people will have a laugh and the mature generation will bask in its reminiscence.