Bringing Up Baby (1938)

8.0
  • Not Rated
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1938 (1938-02-18)
  • Running time: 102 min
  • Original Title: Bringing Up Baby
  • Voted: 50965
Bringing Up Baby is a movie starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Charles Ruggles. While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress...
#PersonCharacters
1Katharine HepburnSusan
2Cary GrantDavid
3Charles RugglesMajor Applegate
4Walter CatlettSlocum
  • Magnificent, joyous japery. 1/31/2003 12:00:00 AM by HenryHextonEsq 10

    "Bringing Up Baby" is a film I unconditionally love; it is so utterly sublime a comedy that I was truly sighing, awed, 'it can't get better than this...' at many points. Yet it regularly does; Hawks keeps the momentum going majestically; it is one incredibly surreal, bizarre tangent going off unexpectedly into another, at every juncture. He photographs and presents his actors in the most charming and amusing possible ways, and the film is certainly a more leisurely, perfectly pitched film than "His Girl Friday", which I nonetheless admire. There is a beauty in the photography and simple choice of perspectives and angles that matches the

    There is not one actress in the annals of film who I adore more than Katharine Hepburn; she is a compelling performer, of great charm, intelligence and wit; of very real, idiosyncratic looks that to this eye are beautiful, vivacious, impish. In "Bringing Up Baby" her Susan Vance is a very interesting diversion from her more usual type of character - the slightly superior, in-control ice maiden, as shown in say "The Philadelphia Story". She is phenomenal in that film, yet here beguiling in a completely different fashion, playing a slightly scatterbrained, sprightly, charmingly delinquent woman, who seems to have no control over anything; least of all her feelings for Grant. Her giddy, breathless exuberance and anarchic helplessness are really endearing; it's a wonderful film that stretches out the credulity of Grant's wonderfully straight-laced character's resistance to Miss Vance. The ending is a gorgeous, satisfying pay-off, as he finally gives way, as would we all! It's a charming, suitable ending that rectifies the slight fall-off of the preceding jail section of the film. That is very amusing, but in a more predictable, slightly laboured way. In stark contrast to the first 70-80 minutes of the film, which amounts to about the finest sustained American comedy I have seen of that length - "Way Out West" and "Duck Soup" being shorter in total.

    Cary Grant, truly an institution of a comedic player, is very different to his more remembered persona of later years. It's remarkable to see this absurd little man, bespectacled, unworldly and cutting an orthodox figure played so perfectly by the suave Grant. This is gleefully played on with the sublime scene where Hepburn and Grant are trying to catch the leopard - Kate butterfly net in hand! She accidentally happens to break his glasses and is even more taken with him without them... The tension between how we usually remember Grant and the character he is playing here does add an extra layer of amusement to the film. Need I really add that the rest of the film's company are note perfect? Charles Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald and many more really give the perfectly matched stars a fine backdrop.

    I shan't spoil too much of this heady, sublimely silly film... just go and watch it and see Howard Hawks, a master craftsman, at his best - there are no pretensions but making a quite wonderful character comedy - and Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant on insurmountable form. With these delightful stars and anarchic, scintillating comic material, what we have on our hands is an unutterably fine film, one of my very favourites of all time. Where else are you going to get such plot threads running simultaneously as: a hunt for a rare archeological find buried by a dog, an absurd upper-middle-class family dinner and an escaped leopard?

    Rating:- *****/*****

  • Wild, crazy, hysterical, FUN! 9/18/1999 12:00:00 AM by Tommy-92 8

    Those people who don't like this movie seem to miss the point; IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE RIDICULOUS AND MAKE NO SENSE AT ALL! THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT FUNNY! Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I want to say that I really did have a laugh a minute. Both Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn are very adapt at this kind of comedy, in top form here, and work very well together. They have a great, very funny supporting cast, as well; though most are long dead and forgotten, many were well-known character actors in the 30's. They knew their craft, and are great at it here. Howard Hawks must have been some director to be able to fashion such a great movie out of a madcap pace and a script in which everyone talks at the same time and is always ad-libbing. (I've heard those were his trademarks, though.) One scene after another at breakneck pace, but never a dull moment. As soon as one laugh stops, another one begins. In case you haven't gotten the point, I highly suggest you see this movie. It may be 60 years old, but it's still hilarious.

  • What's with the recent bashing of this film? 10/13/2004 12:00:00 AM by senocardeira 10

    It's not just a classic - It's a timeless one! Katharine Hepburn (by her own accounts) was in two minds about playing screwball comedy. But she pulls off the characterization of the mad-cappest heroin/heiress ever portrayed on film. It's NOT Kate. It's Kate brilliantly breaking out of her 1930s typecast. The pace is fast, Cary Grant is brilliant as the professor Kate harasses/helps/falls in love with throughout. And what about Susan's aunt and the major? Priceless! Kudos to Baby, as well. I think maybe a few reviewers have been taking their humor from watching 1930s European comedies. Unless it's all out and out vaudeville or cabaret transpositions you're watching, I wouldn't recommend making those your standards for judging "Bringing Up Baby". Worse still if you're judging by American/European standards of the 21st Century. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying since you can't compare this to virtually anything of those, just enjoy the ride. The Acting you CAN compare, though. And I put my money & soul on Hepburn, Grant & Baby every time.

    10/10

  • Baby, Oh Where Can You Be? 12/26/2005 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing 9

    Casting Katharine Hepburn in the role she plays her would have been unthinkable years later when her image as a feminist icon was cast in bronze. But she's doing some serious poaching on a young version of the kind of roles Mary Boland or Billie Burke would play. Think of the parts these two women played and you can definitely see Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby if you imagine Boland and Burke years younger.

    Bringing Up Baby is one of those beautiful films that really doesn't have a plot. Try to tell someone verbally the plot of this, it cannot be done. From the moment airheaded Kate gets into uptight Cary's car in that parking lot with him chasing her, it's just one madcap situation after another. Howard Hawks directs this film with the appropriate light touch the material requires.

    Cary Grant is not the usual suave sophisticate you normally find him cast as either. He's an uptight paleontologist who's biggest thrill up to that point is the arrival of a brontosaurus vertebrae so that he can complete a skeleton. He's also getting married, but the woman he's engaged gives him hints that married life will not be any bed of roses for him. Whether he knows it or not he's ready for the romp Kate has in store for him.

    Thirties audiences definitely loved seeing the rich at play. Bringing Up Baby is the definition of escapist entertainment. But one who hasn't the means shouldn't indulge it what Hepburn is doing. They've got a padded cell waiting for anyone who's not rich who indulges in this kind of behavior. Only the rich can afford to be eccentric.

    Baby by the way is a tame leopard who Kate's brother sends up from South America. That would be a jaguar by the way, but that's just mere details. Anyway Baby escapes at the same time another leopard from the circus escapes and he's dangerous. I won't go into the confusion there, I couldn't describe it in any event.

    May Robson and Charlie Ruggles lend good support. Ruggles who was normally cast against Mary Boland teams up well with May Robson. And my favorite in the supporting cast is Walter Catlett as the small town constable who doesn't know quite what he has on his hands, but is determined to bluff the situation through.

  • Utter perfection. Howard Hawks, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant make the most exquisite comedy of the sound era 1/2/2004 12:00:00 AM by bmacv 10

    In his glorious Bringing Up Baby, Howard Hawks ratchets screwball comedy up to its tautest and springiest level. In clumsier hands, screwball all too often gallops into the frenetic, fraying the nerves; Hawks maintains a presto pace, but never lets the mixups and misunderstandings grow implausible ? he just glides serenely to something else. (And he makes it look easy, which it isn't: Peter Bogdanovich fumbled in his loose remake What's Up, Doc, making it labored and literal-minded.)

    Hawks could barely go wrong with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as his leads, but the rest of the cast he assembles, human as well as animal, can't be faulted either (with the redoubtable May Robson earning extra credit). And while he draws on stock characters and stereotypes that probably date back to commedia dell'arte ? the stuffy professor, the blithe rich girl, her crusty dowager aunt, the bumbling sheriff ? he freshens each one up, making them distinctive, memorable and endearing.

    Behind a pair of repressive spectacles, Grant plays the single-minded paleontologist whose path crosses with that of madcap Hepburn, never again to uncross. The plot revolves around a leopard named Baby, a million dollars, an intercostal clavicle bone, a dog named George who buries it....well, it all makes perfect sense while you're watching.

    Underneath all the antics, Hawks never loses sight of the pastoral romance that Bringing Up Baby at its core really is (at its most magical in the woods under a full moon, and captured by Russell Metty's lovely photography). Grant's been rooting around in the dirt for so long looking for dinosaur bones that it takes him forever to 'get' Hepburn ? an airborne sprite who never comes down to earth. (Their alchemy here is rarefied, not the commoner sort of reaction they kindled in the stage-bound The Philadelphia Story.)

    Last but not least, the movie features the canine talents of Asta (né Skippy), who appeared as himself in the Thin Man series ? Nick and Nora Charles' lovable cur. Here he plays George, who, barking his stubby tail off, has no qualms about tangling with Baby the leopard. Is there any question that this high-strung wire-haired terrier is and will forever be (pace Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie) Hollywood's top dog? How fitting that he should lend his considerable talents to Bringing Up Baby, the most exquisite comedy of the sound era.

#PersonCrew
1Russell Mettycinematographer
2Howard Hawksdirector
3George Hivelyeditor
4Dudley Nicholswriter
5Hagar Wildewriter