Bringing Up Baby (1938)

When there is confusion, it cannot be delightful. Well, move to the other end of this spectrum of convolution; one can have some fun as well. As an audience, I would say it is more enjoyable to watch both ends than face one.

Bringing up Baby is one such movie that I believe was ahead of its era. Comedy had a taste of logic in it. The confusion was more attributed to thrillers and dramas than to comedy in general. It was quite a bomb when this movie was released so much that director Howards Hawks had to be removed from the existing contract with RKO Productions.

Katherine Hepburn enters the world of comedy with her spectacular performance in the role of Susan Vance.

Susan Vance is eccentric, at times lunatic, teams up with the sophisticated palaeontologist Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) in a series of misadventures that take them from one place to another.

Their lines, witty jokes, and, more importantly, demonstrate why they are still revered among the legends in Hollywood’s comedy history.

In need of $ 1 million to complete the brontosaurus skeleton’s project, David is trying hard to please the endower Mrs. Carleton Random. In that case, he accidentally encounters Susan at a golf course.

A young terrier steals the fossil bone and buries it under the earth. Taming the baby (a leopard), which was a gift from Susan’s brother. When David says, ‘he went gay’ when questioned about his female attire. These are some of the goofy incidents that pack up this movie.

David is misunderstood by Susan to be a zoologist and begs him to help her transport the baby to her aunt. He postpones his marriage to help Susan well; he is forced into it.

Susan believes she is in love with David and tries her best not to let go of David. Upon reaching the aunt’s place, one has many more fun situations with George (Asta, the terrier), leopard escaping, etc.

In search of the baby, George, and the missing bone, David and Susan both end up in prison due to confusion. In the end, everything clears up like all the comedies. David remains unmarried, and his donation to complete the project has also been rejected.

Susan meets David to return the bone and gets to know the situation David is in. She decides to donate $1 million through her Aunt Elizabeth and makes him confess that he likes her standing on the brontosaurus’s skeleton.

Considered to be one of the classic movies and one of the best from Howard Hawks, this screwball comedy got its due at a later stage after the public and critics’ initial rejection.

Cary Grant plays the role to perfection. Quite zany, he is apt for a researcher’s part, who is engaged and trying to coax the endowers so that he could complete the project. His character David Huxley’s looks were modelled on the real-life silent comedian Harry Lloyd. The title role of Baby was played by Nissa (II), a leopard.

Some of the movie scenes, such as the torn dress scene in the restaurant, have been re-made in other movies like the 1964 Man’s Favourite Sport and has also been adapted loosely twice in 1972 Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc?, and the 1986 Madonna starrer Who’s that Girl?

Released in 1938, this movie was adapted to screen by writers Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde from a story written by Wilde, published in Collier’s Weekly magazine in 1937.