Bringing Up Baby

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.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast (lesbianswhowrite.com) with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (iheartlesfic.com), a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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30 Responses to Bringing Up Baby

  1. Caroline says:

    Oh goody… this sounds wonderful and I have never seen it.
    I’m a fan of screwball comedies, they are often so witty.
    I haven’t seen 12 Angry Men.

    • TBM says:

      I would love to know what you think about it after you watch it. The dialogue is fantastic. What’s your favorite screwball comedy? I love them. It makes sense that they popped up during the depression–people needed a good laugh.

      • Caroline says:

        I’m ashamed to say i wathced most of them on German TV and have no clue what the English titles are. But there were some with Doris Day. And Cary Grant.

      • TBM says:

        No worries. Besides Bringing Up Baby, I think the Philadelphia Story is my favorite. It is another pairing of Grant and Hepburn. I have seen a few of Day’s movies and they are quite funny as well. I love the movies from this time period.

  2. Beth Ann says:

    I have never seen this one—gonna have to go find it since you love it so much. Sounds like just the ticket for a snowy night, don’t you think? And they say the snow is coming….ugh,

    • TBM says:

      I do love this film. I hope you like it and yes it is perfect for a snowy night. I wish it would snow here, it sounds like I like the snow more than you. For your sake, I hope the forecasters are wrong.

  3. Carl V. says:

    I wouldn’t be ashamed, I just discovered Bringing Up Baby about 5 or 6 years ago and I’ve probably watched it close to 10 times since then! And I’ll watch it a bunch more, it is a thrill. I love old romantic comedies, especially when they have witty banter and the chemistry is good. Bringing Up Baby is one of the very best. I hadn’t considered myself a fan of Katherine Hepburn before seeing this, largely because I hadn’t really seen any of her films when she was younger. I fell hard for her with this one. She is gorgeous and a fire-cracker throughout. Both she and Grant fire off their dialogue so well, its like a complicated dance and it works so well. The film is so funny and so sweet at the same time. I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn’t like it unless they just have an undue prejudice against old black and white films. About a year ago I found the movie Holiday which she and Grant also star in and although I don’t like it as much as Baby, it too is a wonderful film and I love seeing them together in it. Another great one with a young Hepburn is Alice Adams.

    We just watched Bringing Up Baby again a few weeks ago, but talking about it makes me want to watch it again!

    • TBM says:

      I agree with you Carl, I can’t see why people wouldn’t like this film. I have always been a Hepburn fan and I may be biased when it comes to this movie since Grant and Hepburn are my two favorite actors of all time. And yes she was a fire-cracker in this film. I am amazed by their chemistry and how well they delivered their lines.

      I can never decide if I like this movie or His Girl Friday the most. Both have Grant, amazing dialogue and are just fun to watch. It has been so long since I’ve seen Holiday I’ll have to add it to my list. And I need to check out Alice Adams.

      I’m so glad you discovered Bringing Up Baby. Such a wonderful movie. They really don’t make them like this anymore.

      And yes, I want to watch it again. I used to own it, but somehow I lost it. I might as well buy another one.

      • Carl V. says:

        No they don’t. I am really fond of many contemporary romantic comedies, but none of them are as well crafted as these classics. I happened to catch part of Alice Adams on television somewhere and promptly went out to rent it because it was so interesting. It is one I want to buy at some point.

        Cary Grant is one of our favorites as well. We own several of his movies on DVD and never tire of rewatching them from time to time. Arsenic and Old Lace is probably my favorite Grant movie.

      • TBM says:

        How did I forget to list Arsenic and Old Lace? I love to watch that every fall. Not only is Grant amazing in it, but I love Raymond Massey in it…and the aunts and Teddy. Another great film with amazing writing and dialogue. It is impossible for me not to laugh out loud when watching this film.

      • Carl V. says:

        Although it is nearly impossible to choose, I think Arsenic and Old Lace and the Jimmy Stewart movie You Can’t Take it With You are possibly may favorite classic films.

  4. TBM says:

    I haven’t seen You Can’t Take It with You but I just requested it online. It isn’t on my list of movies, but I may review it so we can chat about it 🙂

    • Carl V. says:

      Jean Arthur is wonderful in it, but really the entire cast is wonderful. Of Frank Capra’s films I think it is my favorite. Would love to talk about it. Let me know when you decide to watch it and I’ll rewatch it again at the same time. We rarely need any kind of excuse to give it a viewing at our house. 🙂

  5. niasunset says:

    what a beautiful post again… almost took me into the memories… They were great… they were great… Katharine Hepburn… what an amazing artist… and also Cary Grant … You are amazing dear TBM. It is another great film 12 angry men! Thank you, have a nice and enjoyable day, with my love, nia

    • TBM says:

      Nia you always write the nicest comments. Thank you so much for your positive attitude and encouragement. I’m looking forward to 12 Angry Men. I wish you a happy day!

  6. The Hook says:

    You’re in for a real treat; 12 Angry Men is awesome!

  7. Wonderful film with two great actors – mind you I havn´t seen it for years! And now you´re going to watch 12 Angry Men which is incredible. I bet you feel hot when you watch it (you´ll know what I mean when you see it)…not in a saucy way by the way! It´s so cleverly done.

    • TBM says:

      I’ve heard that 12 Angry Men will make me think. Can’t wait to find out…and I think I know what you mean when you say “feel hot.” Let’s see if I’m right 🙂

  8. Northern Narratives says:

    This is definitely a classic movie. Another screwball comedy is What’s Up Doc with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal.

  9. One of my favorite Cary Grant movies! Had no idea it was on the list of top 100. Make me laugh every time too.
    Have to agree with Northern Narratives–What’s Up Doc is great too.

    • TBM says:

      I adore Grant in this film…his timing is perfect. This is one of those movies that always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood. I’ll have to check out What’s Up Doc!

  10. shelleydlm says:

    Wow, I’m intrigued I love old movies, going to look for this movie and watch it. Is it on Netflix?

    • TBM says:

      I hope it is on Netflix. I use a different service in London called Lovefilm and they had it. I really hope you can find and and I hope you enjoy it!

  11. For me, Bringing Up Baby ranks right up there with My Man Godfrey, The Palm Beach Story, and The Return Of the Thin Man as the screwball comedies (Well thin man is a mystery with a screwball comedy inside…) I can always re-watch. Thanks for the reminder –
    (of course I sometimes think of Animal House as a screwball comedy and if it was I would have to include it as well, but, luckily it isn’t 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I adore the Thin Man series! Myrna Loy and William Powell are fantastic in those movies. I haven’t seen My Man Godfrey or the Palm Beach Story so I’m adding them to my list. Thanks for the suggestions.

      • Jackie Cangro says:

        I love the Thin Man series too! The little dog Asta is a hoot.
        Bringing Up Baby is one of my faves. Cary Grant is terrific in this role, but most people don’t think of him as a comic actor. He and Katharine Hepburn are great together in The Philadelphia Story.
        I’m interested to hear what you think about 12 Angry Men. I thought the dialogue was terrific.

      • TBM says:

        The Thin Man series is special. And Asta–what a wonderful dog. I am very interested to find out what I think of 12 Angry Men. I’ve heard a lot about it, but I have never took the time to sit down and watch it. And I love movies with great dialogue so now I am looking forward to it more. Thanks!

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