Bringing Up Baby (1938), When Leopards Are Funny

A Groundbreaking Comedy

Bringing Up Baby was made in 1938, and it is a charming, genuinely funny, feel-good movie to watch. It was not well received on release, mainly because it was ahead of its time, but its amazing breakneck pace and disarmingly witty dialogue set new standards for all such comedies ever since.

There is a high level of energy in the film that was a requirement for a movie of this genre and there is no doubt that both Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant were on top form. Their pairing paid off handsomely and the result - a comedy classic.

In 1990, Bringing Up Baby was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It also consistently ranks on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films.

The Original Trailer

An Extra Leopard

Basic Story Line

The plot itself is simple. David Huxley (Cary Grant), a noted paleontologist, is trying to get a philanthropical grant of money for his museum from a wealthy donor. Dr. Huxley, who is engaged to be married, is intensely interested in the arrival of a brontosaurus bone required to complete his project at the museum. In his quest for the charitable gift, he runs into the free-spirited Susan (Katherine Hepburn), who, unbeknownst to him, is the niece and prospective heiress to his potential philanthropist's fortune. Once David meets up with this scatterbrain his life will never be the same.

She becomes responsible for Baby, a tame leopard shipped to her New York apartment and intended for her aunt. The plot thickens when George the Terrier steals the priceless bone and buries it, Baby escapes, and an untamed leopard escapes from a circus convoy (resulting in a twist on the mistaken identity ploy).

The movie is romantic for all its speed and the relationship between Grant and Hepburn becomes a flirtation which transfixes the audience. They are a match made in movie heaven, both on top form and in sync with each other throughout.

Main Cast List

Howard Hawks, the director of "Bringing Up Baby", got excellent performances from his two major stars and both Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn were at their best in the film. Cary Grant's bespectacled paleontologist, with his nervous mannerisms, complements perfectly Hepburn's scatterbrain socialite who has designs on him. The supporting cast is also one of the things that make this film the fun it is. Charles Ruggles, May Robson, Barry Fitzgerald, George Irving, and the rest of the cast do a marvelous job in the roles they created. They form a solid backdrop for the main players.

Cary Grant - Dr.David Huxley

At the age of 16 he moved from his birthplace in Bristol, England to join a troupe of knockabout comedians touring America. He stayed there, changed his name from Archibald Leach and became one of the world's greatest stars. He combined charm, charisma and good looks into a unique and universally appealing screen personality. Married five times, Grant had a daughter, Jennifer, in 1966 by his fourth wife, actress Dyan Cannon, whereupon he retired from the filmmaking to become a full-time father. During the 1980s, Grant toured the United States with a one-man show entitled "An Evening with Cary Grant" and was in Davenport, Iowa when he suffered a stroke and died on November 29, 1986.

Katharine Hepburn - Susan Vance

Born in 1907, Katharine Hepburn has proven to be the most monumental and enduring of all Hollywood stars. Her career as a leading lady spanned seven decades, over fifty quality films ranging from screwball comedies to high drama, a record twelve Oscar nominations and four Oscar wins, including three after the age of 58.

One of the first stars to take control of her career while still working within the confines of the studio system, she was able to work closely with the likes of Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and director George Cukor. She died at the age of 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Charles Ruggles - Maj. Horace Applegate (as Charlie Ruggles)

Walter Catlett - Constable Slocum

Barry Fitzgerald - Aloysius Gogarty

May Robson - Aunt Elizabeth Random

Fritz Feld - Dr. Fritz Lehman

Leona Roberts - Hannah Gogarty

George Irving - Alexander Peabody

Tala Birell - Mrs. Lehman

Virginia Walker- Alice Swallow

John Kelly - Elmer

 

Amazon.com essential viewing

Bringing Up Baby (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Bringing Up Baby (Two-Disc Special Edition)

"The love impulse in man," says a psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby, "frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict." That's for sure. For a primer on the rules and regulations of the classic screwball comedy, which throws love and conflict into close proximity, look no further.

Run time: 102 minutes

 

That's all for Bringing Up Baby. If you've not seen it, you're missing out on a wonderful experience. Go out now. Buy it and watch it. You won't regret it!

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