Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classic Movie Review: Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Why this movie? I asked twitter to suggest a great movie that came out before I was born in '79 and HeyLady33 suggested Bringing Up Baby as one of the most memorable.  I was skeptical at first but I found that it was on both an AFI 100 Movies list and also on Filmsite's 100 Greatest Films.

The Story is a screwball romantic comedy sparked by a chance meeting on a golf course that throws a million dollars, a marriage, a leopard, and rare dinosaur bone all into mayhem.

My Thoughts Wowee!  This movie was an absolute rollercoaster ride.  It picks up staidly enough and gets quirkier and quirkier as we go until it becomes an absolute free-for-all of mile-a-minute banter and comically misconstrued wordplay.  Hepburn's character Susan is an absolute charmer with her carefree and flippant approach to the quibbles and concerns of Grant's hapless David as she tries to win his affections, however haphazardly.  There is a real duality between these characters, two peas from a pod, and their interactions bring out a part of David that is polar opposite to the side his fiancĂ©e evokes.

It's not hard to see how the movie should end for these two wacky kids.  Aside from the charming romance, the plot twists and turns but in a fairly tight scope. In only a few days and a few locations they manage to get a lot of mileage by revisiting situations and gags in such a compounding manner as to have you grinning or laughing most of the way.  The film isn't shy about the situational humour all this confusion evokes and a dash of clumsy moments adds a touch of slapstick to the film that feels just right.  I found myself roaring at least a handful of times at the absurdity of it all!

About all that holds this movie back is how dated the technology was when it was filmed.  The picture quality is decent for black and white but the sound quality really lacked the fidelity to make every zany line of wordplay pop out.  I couldn't help but feel I was missing out on a real good zinger or two as the most climactic flurries of dialogue blurred together.  For today's post-M. Night Shyamalan audience, the ending is a tad compressed and predictable but in no way takes away from the movie.  Something all these twist ending screenplays these days forget is that the ending is only the last 5 minutes of the film, it very rarely will save 85 other minutes of boring. Instead this film serves up 97 minutes of fun and tops it off with a perfectly expected 5 minute cherry.

In the end I would most definitely recommend this movie to anyone who doesn't discriminate against a movie for the colour of it's film and enjoys fun and funny romantic comedies, very much in the spirit of The Taming of the Shrew.  A clever movie, great dialogue, well acted, and a good time!


  1. I really can not understand how anyone wouldn't like "Bringing Up Baby". It's an amazing movie. I've never seen another comedy with such wit ad comedic timing.

    I love the scene when the big game hunter comes to dinner and David and Susan are stalking George to see where he's hidden the long lost dinosaur bone.

    Really, if you want to almost guarantee a great movie, pick one with Cary Grant in it. He's amazing. You know where to find me if you want suggestions!

  2. Sounds like a good one. I will have to check it out.
    I won't even say how long I fed your swimming fish for....must have extra time on my hands..

  3. LOL I'm glad you liked the fish Jill and fed them! I always neglect the little fellas.. actually there seems to be a few less than before. Hmm.

    Thanks as well for the lovely comments Hey Lady! and thanks most of all for recommending it! I really enjoyed some of the Abbot and Costello style interchanges early in the film and they soften you up enough for the kookie dog following later!

  4. I wrote this like David Foster Wallace. Proof:

    Who the hell is he?

  5. Dude, time for a new blog entry. Just saying...