← Back to Reviews

Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

Classic screwball comedy doesn't get much screwier than this. Paleontologist David (Cary Grant) receives the intercostal clavicle of a brontosaurus which will complete his reconstruction of the fossil dinosaur for his museum and proceeds to the golf course to try to obtain a million dollars from the lawyer of a rich benefactor. He immediately becomes entangled with flighty Susan (Katharine Hepburn) who just happens to be the niece of the benefactor (May Robson). Susan is taking care of her brother's pet leopard Baby, and when David visits her home, Baby escapes and the family dog becomes interested in David's bone and proceeds to take and bury it somewhere. What started out as manic turns into insanity as a visiting big game hunter (Charlie Ruggles) tries to hunt the leopard, and another, wild leopard gets added into the mix. Grant is an expert farceur here and plays well against Hepburn's slightly-quieter, yet equally-outrageous manner. There is no doubt that there's sexual attraction between the two leads, at least as much as possible between scientific "Dr. Bone" who "just went gay all of a sudden" and a 12-year-old girl running around in a 30-year-old's body. (Trust me, that last line makes sense.) Screwball comedies are basically romantic comedies at heart, but they just try to disarm you with crazy laughter before you accept the fact that the couple is a match made in heaven... or at least in this case, movie heaven. Or in Miss Vicky's case, movie hell.