Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bringing Up Baby (1938)


“How can all these things happen to just one person?”

            Bringing Baby Up is one of the ultimate Screwball comedies. The story is hysterically funny and with some of the best comedic dialogue ever written. The comedy never ends right from the beginning. You are either laughing, blushing, or smacking your palm to your forehead (or all three and at the same time) the characters are silly and nervously/skittishly energetic.
            David Huxley (Cary Grant) is a zoologist with the most excitement in his life being the finding of a piece from a dinosaur so the prehistoric animal can be wholly put back together. His is engaged to Alice Swallow who just sees their marriage as a business arrangement and says that he must dedicate his whole life to his work with nothing interfering. They are to marry the following day.
            David goes to play golf with a man named Alexander Peabody. He represents a Mrs. Carlton Random who is thinking about giving the museum David works a million dollars. While golfing David meets a very flighty and nutty young woman named Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn). She thinks David’s ball is his and plays it and she also thinks his car is hers. That night David goes to a restaurant to talk to Mr. Peabody again and explain about the golf game. Unfortunately Susan is there as well and she just complicates David’s life again.
            The next day David receives his bone that will complete his dinosaur as well as a phone call from Susan. She tells him to come over that she has just been sent a real leopard! She trips while on the phone and David thinks the leopard has gotten to her so she plays it up and pretends the animal is attacking her. When David arrives at Susan’s place she is fine and the leopard is in her bathroom. She reads a letter from her brother Mark (who sent the animal from Brazil where he is hunting) explaining that the leopard’s name is Baby, he is tame and “’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?” David has had enough and walks out but Susan along with Baby follow him. Susan talks to David outside telling him that she just needs his help bringing Baby to her aunt’s house in Connecticut. He agrees just to get the woman out of his hair so he cannot be annoyed by her and get married.

            Well, the trip becomes more than David can handle. Susan drives him nuts, his bone gets stolen by her aunt’s dog George, and Baby gets loose in the town and both zoologist and crazy woman go on a night hunt for the leopard with the search ending with them both going to jail.
            If I explain anymore it may get confusing and I do not want to ruin any of it because all the shenanigans Susan gets David in are so funny.
            I adore Katharine Hepburn as Susan. After seeing her in so many dramas seeing her in a comedy is great. I think this was my first Hepburn film and I am so glad it was because while I do like her dramas she had an excellent touch for comedy (I do not believe I would have liked her so much had I seen her in a drama first). It is no wonder Hepburn was named the number actress of all time by AFI, she could really do it all.  Cary Grant is a panic. I love him in comedies I actually prefer him in Screwball comedies than drama. He knew how to play a frazzled but kind of together character to perfection. Grant did so many little things like body movements and facial expressions that brought a lot more to his character and to the film.
            The supporting character actors were also really good. In this point in her career Katharine Hepburn never made a comedy so RKO filled the film with comedic actors to help her out. I do not think she needed much help but with their skill at comedy they all made the film so much funnier.
            Howard Hawks as always deserves so much praise as a director. He had such a great knack for getting so much great work from his actors. He knew how to make great comedies and capture so many sly little touches that if noticed add so much more to a scene. Hawks made smart comedies that have remained funny after so many years.
            I remember the first time I watched Bringing Up Baby on TCM when they were airing some of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn’s films they made together. I had to see this because Cary Grant was in it. I was not really into Katharine Hepburn at the time but after this I became a fan. The next day I took my friend out to a DVD store with me and bought the film in a pack of Katharine Hepburn films released by TCM. I made my friend watch it with me that day and she was laughing so hard throughout the entire thing. I watched all the other films in the pack and I realized and saw the immense talent Katharine Hepburn had she could literally play any type of role and be amazing.
            I guarantee if you have a silly sense of humor you will be laughing during the whole running of Bringing Up Baby. The film is available on DVD in the TCM pack I have or individually and I highly suggest seeing it… my advice is just to buy the DVD if you see it in a store you will not be sorry.