All Time Classics: Bringing Up Baby(1938).

Bringing_Up_Baby_1938_lobby_cardBringing Up Baby(1938)

Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, May Robson

Writers:  Hagar Wilde, Dudley Nichols

Director: Howard Hawks.

When I first watched this I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did.  Screwball comedies was a genre I was not that familiar with, and I was afraid that based on the year this was released.  Many of the jokes and references to pop culture would go completely over my head and I would only smile, simply for the nostalgia factor   Well this one surprised me at how funny it was.  Not only did it feature some very great physical comedy, the dialogue was very witty and clever throughout many parts of it.   Yes it was set in the late 30’s but it never acts like you had to be from that decade to enjoy it.  I always thought that the same story could be told now, and if it was still set in that same time period it would still make me laugh.

The story is about a straight laced by the books paleontologist named David Huxley who wants to impress a rich woman named Elizabeth Random(May Robson) because she has shown some interest and might contribute some funds for his research.  One day while playing Golf he meets the very free spirit Susan Rance(Katharine Hepburn) and the two get into quite the argument while playing the game.  Well to David it’s an argument, but to Susan it’s more of a game, and she becomes interested in him right away.   Later she meets him at a party and always seems to find the right excuses to keep him around.  Now many of you might consider that to be a form of  harassment, but I found it to be very sweet and charming.  It reminds me of a girl I once dated.  Yeah  we may have disagreed on a lot of things, but I will always remember how passionate she was about things I found to be mundane.   Susan mishears what David does for a living and thinks he’s a zoologist instead of a paleontologist.  She wants him to help bring her brother’s pet leopard named Baby back to her Aunt’s house where it will be cared for.  I could just explain the scene for you, but it’s much better if you watch the whole thing below.

Every performance in this is really good.  Cary Grant as David is great because on the outside he may seem to be neurotic, and too straight laced to be the cool charismatic leading man he has been in other films.  However Susan manages to see all past that and helps him open up a little bit more and show him some fun.  The role of Susan by Katharine Hepburn works well because even though  she may appear to be a complete goof and manipulative at some times.  There is never a moment when watching this, that she intends to deliberately hurt David.  It’s just that sometimes her plan back fires and he does.  But not in any dangerous sort of  way.  She just wants to be around him all the time.  Like I stated before.  Some might find that type of behavior odd and others like myself might find it to be appealing.  The other cast of characters are really good and they are all put to good use near the end when a real dangerous leopard escapes from the circus the same time Baby goes missing.

Grant, Cary (Bringing Up Baby)_10I laughed so much during this film that I was surprised to read that this film was a huge financial disaster when it was first released.  Everyone just hated it, and director Howard Hawks was released from his contract with RKO Pictures.  It has now gone on to be considered one of the best comedies of all time, and rightfully so.  There are a few moments where the pacing slows down a tad after David and Susan arrives at her Aunt’s place.  Yet those moments were much too brief to make any real fuss about, and it still managed to make me chuckle a few times.  So it wasn’t a complete lost.   “Bringing Up Baby” is a classic comedy that will make you smile and laugh even while watching it today.

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About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcast The Film Pasture and As You Watch. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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9 Responses to All Time Classics: Bringing Up Baby(1938).

  1. jjames36 says:

    This one has always been on my list of “See It, Dummy!” given its cast, backstory and reputation. Yet, I never have.

    So many good movies to see …

  2. I have been wanting to see this one for many years, and hopefully this review helps make that happen. His Girl Friday is a great Hepburn/Grant collaboration directed by Hawks, but my personal favorites are The Philadelphia Story and Holiday, both directed by George Cukor. I like Cary Grant very much, but I absolutely love Katharine Hepburn.

    Oh, and if you want another great 30s comedy, check out It Happened One Night. That movie really took the cinema world by storm, and changed the face of comedy forever.

    Great review! I love seeing some love given to classic Hollywood.

    • The Vern says:

      Thanks Jacob. I have seen It Happened One Night, and really enjoyed that one. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert were really good and a lot of the humor still works today. I even liked the Radio play of them that was featured on the DVD. I wasn’t too big on Philadelphia Story, but would gladly check out Holiday

  3. Hi The Vern!
    I just wanted to say thanks! For what? Because I am the proud recipient of the Sunshine Award! While Mette nominated you, well you in turn nominated my buddy Brandon over at Movies at Dog Farm, and then he in turn nominated me! So thanks, man! So, until next time…keep those fires stoked!
    Eternally Yours

  4. table9mutant says:

    Great review. 🙂 Never seen this! I really need to watch more classics…

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