What I love the most about this movie is, while I grew up mostly knowing for Katharine Hepburn for her dramatic work and for winning more Oscars than any other actor, she has amazing comic timing. It’s especially impressive considering director Howard Hawks had to hire people to teach her to be funny. Playing an early manic pixie dreamgirl prototype, she finds herself bumping into Cary Grant in increasing outrageous and embarrassing situations, then eventually she begins to lure him, using her mischievous pet leopard, Baby, as bait. The two are a delight together, probably my favorite cinematic duo because they are two of the biggest film stars ever, and they share the screen so effortlessly, neither one ever trying to steal the spotlight for themselves.
The first half hour can almost exhaust you, there’s so many gags per minute, and you haven’t even met the leopard yet! If this film was made today, they would probably rely heavily on improv as Hepburn & Grant play two people who really shouldn’t spend more than five minutes together, but keep finding themselves tied to one another. This is one of the strongest examples of classic Screwball comedy, with a very strong script. A clearly leads to B, which follows smoothly to C.
I have such a soft spot for the Great Miss Kate, due to her independent, outspoken personality. It’s great to watch her have so much fun playing against type as the flighty heiress. She probably has a dozen costume changes in a film where the main action takes place over 36 hours. Her outfit are continually outrageous and most of them have wacky hats. Remember when women had to have a hat for every occasion? The veil she wears in the bar scene baffles me and it’s really fun seeing this woman who was mostly know for daring to wear pants, playing a fashion plate. Although to see the most over the top outfit she ever wore in a film, see the metallic moth dress she wore in Christopher Strong, complete with antenna!
While Grant is the straight man, his explanation for why he’s wearing a woman’s dressing gown is a moment I have to rewind over and over every time I watch it. It marks,possibly, the first uses of the term “gay” for homosexual in pop culture and is really interesting when you think about the rumors that followed Grant’s sexuality.
Appreciation for Bringing Up Baby has grown with time. It was notoriously considered a flop when it was released and Hepburn was seen as “box office poison”, only regaining her place in Hollywood with the success of The Philadelphia Story. It is now on the AFI’s top 100 films list. When discussing the film’s cult status decades after its release, Hepburn asked “Where you when we needed you, Dear Viewers?”
While this film inspires either absolute adoration or complete annoyance, it would probably be a good date movie. You probably don’t want to be with a guy who thinks Hepburn is annoying when you find her cute as a button.
Favorite line: He’s three years old, gentle as a kitten, and likes dogs.” I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them? Mark’s so vague sometimes.