88. Bringing Up Baby

“While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard “Baby.””

“Screwball Comedy” is definitely the right term to describe this film. It’s the one of two Hepburn/Grant matchups on AFI’s list and it is definitely a good one.

I knew literally nothing about this film, aside from knowing who stars in it. I am a Cary Grant fan, but I’m “if-y” when it comes to Katherine Hepburn. I think my liking her or not really depends on the role that I am watching her play. Her character of Susan in this film is delightful; she’s frustrating, but delightful. Grant and Hepburn play so well off of each other, which is what makes this film (or really any film they are in together) so enjoyable. And they are both surprisingly good at comedy, particularly Hepburn.

Pretty much my only headache with this film is the speed at which they talk. I mean, it is His Girl Friday fast, guys (which is also directed by Howard Hawks, so this is no surprise). It’s one of those films that I feel like I missed some of the jokes because of how fast Hepburn speaks. I get that it’s partially reflective of the time, but still. The worst part is that, after watching it, everything I read or write is now at that speed. I have had Hepburn’s voice in my head reading everything that I have been writing this whole time at that speed and now I think I have a headache.

The plot to this film could be described with three simple words: clumsiness, misunderstanding, leopard (note: do not read as a “clumsy misunderstanding leopard” although I suppose on some level that could be used to describe the plot as well). The comedy in this film stems from the two main characters being quite clumsy and falling/running into things and from the main and supporting characters having misunderstanding after misunderstanding.

"Misunderstanding"
“Misunderstanding”

The leopard in this film is pretty much just a plot device to get David (Grant’s character) to Susan’s house outside the city. For a good portion of the film, the leopard is tucked away in a barn, while the characters go about their business. Also, can I just ask who gets somebody a leopard after only knowing them one day? And who even knows how and where to get a leopard in the city? Apparently Susan because money can buy anything which, for all I know is one of the messages of this movie.

You know, there were two other subplots in this movie. One which involved David and his fiancée, Alice, and the other involves David trying to get a brontosaurus bone back from Susan’s aunt’s dog. There was just a lot going on in this film, all of which led to the multiple misunderstandings throughout it.

Honorable Mentions:

Cary Grant with glasses
Cary Grant with glasses
Animal Odd Couples
Animal Odd Couples
Hepburn's acting in the jail scene
Hepburn’s acting in the jail scene
The ambiguous use of the word “gay” in a movie made in 1938

Grade: C+

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