Thursday, November 7, 2013

Movie #223: Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby is a 1938 screwball comedy starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Also a leopard. Couple of them, actually.

Dr. David Huxley (Grant) is a rather nervous, straight-laced paleontologist putting together a brontosaurus skeleton and hoping to talk the lawyer (played by George Irving) of a rich old lady (played by May Robson) into donating a million dollars to the museum. He's also waiting on the last bone for his dinosaur skeleton. He's also getting married tomorrow, to a woman...probably affiliated with the museum (I don't think her actual position is ever stated) named Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker).

While playing golf with Peabody, the lawyer, he runs afoul of a flighty heiress named Susan (Hepburn), who proceeds to accidentally make his life a living hell. As it happens, she's the niece of the rich old lady, and swears she can fix all this, but just manages to make it worse. The next morning, she calls David up, under the impression he's a zoologist, because her crazy brother has just sent her a leopard.

Things get weirder from there. They take the leopard to Connecticut to stash it, but then Aunt Elizabeth shows up with her big game hunter friend, Applegate (Charles Ruggles), and the family dog steals the bone, and they steal a car, and Susan deliberately works to keep David there because she falls in love with him. We end up with another (much less tame) leopard running around, everyone getting put in jail, and Susan getting the money, which she gives to the (now-single) David.

It's a screwball comedy, so it's fast, funny, and absurd, but very heavy on quick dialog and physical comedy. Everyone in it utterly commits to the absurdity, and say what you want about post-Code Hollywood, but it's nice to see comedy where no one farts. Susan is flighty, but she's quite capable. David is frazzled, but he's decent and brave. And the end of the movie makes clear that while Susan is always going to be clumsy and difficult, David is always going to love that about her.

Plus, leopards are cute when they nuzzle people.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Grosse Pointe Blank