Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Bringing Up Baby' is chaotic ride worth taking

Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Charles Ruggles, May Robson, Fritz Feld, George Irving and Walter Catlett
Director: Howard Hawks
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

When paeleontologist David Huxley (Grant) goes to schmooze a lawyer representing a wealthy widow who is considering making a donation of $1 million to the museum he works at, he instead finds himself drawn into the chaotic life of socialite Susan Vance (Hepburn). Before he knows it, he's hunting leopards in Connecticutt.

I think I saw this movie for the first time when I was 10 or 12. It was was funniest thing I'd ever seen, and I've been touting this film as one of my favorites for the past three decades.

I recently watched it again, and I found myself not amused so much as annoyed by Katharine Hepburn's obnxiously dippy character and the way Cary Grant's Dr. Huxley was incapable of avoiding her, not just because he was a gentleman but because he was milquetoast in the extreme.

"Bringing Up Baby" is still a hilarious movie, even if it didn't quite live up to my memories of it. Cary Grant puts on a great show--even with my being annoyed at his character. It's also interesting to notice that while Hepburn interacts with the leopard (panther?) co-star, Grant never gets closer to the cat than a couple of feet. I wonder what the story is behind that? Was Cary Grant too big a star to run the risk of him getting mauled?