Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Can you get more classic with screwball comedies than Bringing Up Baby? Perhaps, but it would definitely be a struggle to find one. This is my second viewing of the movie and the movie does really stand the toll of time, it doesn’t seem to have lost any of its magnificence since I last saw it was a kid.The movie has Cary Grant and Kathryn Hepburn reunited for the first time since the disaster that was Sylvia Scarlett and this time, to everyone’s benefit, the results are far more positive. The movie is a great example of what makes Howard Hawks’ signature madhouse comedies so damn entertaining even decades later: they’re timeless, fast, energetic, loony, the characters are very memorable and the jokes have you laughing so hard you end up gasping for air. Grant and Hepburn truly get to showcase their phenomenal chemistry together to their heart’s content and it’s easy to picture the two of them constantly cracking up in the middle of a scene, ruining several takes. Their comedic delivery is very powerful, and it gets elevated to new spheres whenever the movie’s plot device leopard, Baby, is added to the mix, as we see in the last third of the movie when the plot circles around looking for the missing leopard and Cary and Kathryn get thrown in jail with hilarious chaos ensuing when the lawmen tries to make sense of what is going on.

However, it’s not entirely flawless movie thanks to the cliched and frankly contrived love triangle angle that adds very little to the story, other than Hepburn conniving ways to keep Grant from leaving her cottage in the country. This is admittedly a personal pet peeve of mine, and something that most people probably don’t even register with these types of movies, so the only one being annoyed here is me. The so called love triangle is annoying for couple reasons: Alice, the woman Grant is engaged to, is from the very beginning depicted as entirely unlikable and obnoxious partner for him (which of course makes it fine and dandy for Kathryn to essentially seduce/steal Grant) and what’s worse, she is barely even in the movie for most of its duration, so what is even the point to set Grant up as taken when we know they’re going to hook up? You could have easily played the clashing personalities dynamic between Katryn and Cary, as well as the whole continuous disasters keep happening when they are together, to be the primary reason why they don’t immediately hook up. It’d be even comedic if the emphasis was on Grant losing his marbles when he can’t get away from Hepburn. After all, from Grant’s character’s POV Hepburn is nothing but trouble and is ruining any chance to get the grant to the museum, and it’s only with time that he starts to warm up to her. Anything really would have been better than this old romance trope.


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