50 Greatest Movies – Bringing Up Baby (1938)

B, Movies, Reviews
This is a reposting to make it one of my 50 Greatest Movies.

Bringing Up Baby. Directed by Howard Hawks. Screenplay by Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde from a story by Hagar Wilde. Starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. 1938. 102 minutes.

A totally preposterous movie, but Bringing Up Baby is great fun to watch. Very fast-paced dialog in this, one of the most famous Screwball Comedies. Later remade as the woefully unknown What’s Up Doc? starring Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Streisand. In many ways What’s Up Doc? is a more satisfying movie. However, I wouldn’t want to give either of them up.

Professor David Huxley (Cary Grant) is trying to construct a dinosaur from fossils. In order to continue his work he could use one million dollars from a philanthropist for the museum. He is trying to meet with a connection for the money when he runs into trouble with Susan (Katherine Hepburn). Susan is extremely ditzy and after a few encounters with her, Huxley is totally frustrated, but she is enamored with him. Susan connives a way to get David away from his fiancé. A tame leopard is brought into the picture by her brother, and at the same time a wild leopard escapes the circus. Confusion and a search for lost bones keep the plot moving.

In many ways this movie should be a guide to budding screenwriters. One scene moves naturally into the next and everyone acts within character. The actors are all fantastic. May Robson as Aunt Elizabeth, Barry Fitzgerald as Gogarty, playing the same character he plays in The Quiet Man, Charles Ruggles as Major Applegate, George Irving as the lawyer, and of course, Hepburn and Grant. One wonders what Carole Lombard would have done with this role, but several times, you see just how good an actress Hepburn is. Cary Grant is completely believable as the paleontologist in over his head.

Some great dialog and very funny scenes populate this picture. Don’t worry too much about the audacious plot, just try and follow the witty repartee. However outlandish the story, it seems to unfold naturally, nothing is forced. Especially fun is the scene inside the jail. Watch as spacey Susan becomes “Swingin’ Door Suzie.”


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