I was extremely excited that one of my favorite movies is on the 2007 AFI top 100 movies. I first saw Bringing Up Baby, ranked 88 on the list, when I was a kid. It was one of my grandmother’s favorite movies and at first I think I loved the film since it reminded me of her. My grandmother was one neat lady. It still does remind me of her, but I also love this movie since I think it is one of the best pairings in cinema history. Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are brilliant in this film.
Describing this film to those who have not seen it is somewhat difficult, but I’ll do my best. This film is a screwball comedy. This genre became popular during the Great Depression and they focus on witty conversation, ridiculous situations, and a romance. Bringing up Baby is a classic example of this genre. It opens with David Huxley (Cary Grant) who is a paleontologist. After four years of assembling a skeleton of a Brontosaurus, Huxley receives word that the final bone is on its way. However, not everything is coming together for David. He is engaged to Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) a stern woman. The day before his wedding, he has a meeting with a lawyer who represents a wealthy woman who is interested in donating money to David’s museum. During the meeting with the lawyer he meets a young woman. As soon as Katharine Hepburn’s character enters the movie, David’s life becomes overly complicated. Susan Vance (Hepburn) is the niece of the wealthy woman. When she first meets David, he does not know her connection to the aunt and she does not know that David is hoping her aunt will donate the money. Susan makes David’s life hell right from the start. How does she accomplish this? First off, she ruins David’s first impression with the rich aunt’s lawyer. But this is small stuff considering what else happens. After meeting David, Susan falls madly in love. When she learns that he is to marry the next day she sets out to prevent him from getting married. Her antics include traveling with David to the aunt’s house in Connecticut with a tame leopard from Brazil. Also, right before David heads to Connecticut with Susan he received the final bone of the dinosaur that he has been reconstructing for four years. He brings the bone with him. What could go wrong? Well Susan’s dog finds the bone and then buries the bone. Also, Baby (the leopard) escapes and Susan and David have to track down both the bone the dog buried and a leopard in a small Connecticut town. To complicate matters, the aunt shows up at the house and David has to hide his identity from her in hopes that she will still donate the money to his museum. Did I mention that this film is a screwball comedy and that I would have a hard time describing it? I have seen it so many times, and yet I am struggling with finding the right way to describe what happens in the movie without giving too much away. The movie isn’t complicated by any means. It is just so screwy that it is hard to provide a succinct summary—or at least I am struggling with providing one.
The best part of this film is the interaction between Grant and Hepburn. The writing is superb. Their repartee is amazing and with each viewing I catch a new phrase that makes me laugh out loud. Even though the plot is absolutely absurd, I find myself wrapped up in the story each time. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve seen this movie over ten times. It is just that good. Thank you grandma for introducing me to this wonderful classic.
Not only is this film on the top 100 list, it was also named the 15th funniest American film of all time. Grant’s performance has been ranked 68th on Premiere’s list of The 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. Hepburn’s character is listed as 21st on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
If you have not seen this movie, don’t let my weak attempt to summarize this movie deter you. This is a funny movie. I laugh out loud each time I watch it. The chemistry between Grant and Hepburn is something that should be cherished and remembered. After writing this review I’m kicking myself for having returned the movie since now I want to watch it again.
12 Angry Men is next. I have never seen this movie and I’m excited for it to arrive in the mail.