Home > Sunday Screening Films, Uncategorized > 2/14/2010 Sunday Screening #13: Bringing Up Baby

2/14/2010 Sunday Screening #13: Bringing Up Baby

Another week, another Sunday Screening. This time we’ve opted for a Screwball Comedy. Read the Synopsis from IMDB below.

“In this screwball comedy, heiress Susan is determined to catch a stuffy paleontologist and uses her pet leopard, Baby, to help get his attention. The elements of this farce include a yappy terrier who steals and buries an irreplaceable fossilized bone, a pompous big game hunter, a rich old aunt, a jealous fiancée, and a case of mistaken identity involving a second, and vicious, leopard. Written by Fiona Kelleghan {fkelleghan@aol.com} ”

Enjoy the film. Can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of it!

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  1. Victoria
    February 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    Love this movie!!!!

  2. February 14, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    I tried. I really did.

    I’ve seen this movie once before and didn’t like it at all. The only good thing I can really say for it is that the actors deliver their lines quickly and pretty naturally.

    Nobody listens to anyone else. Everything is incredibly contrived. The screenplay tries to be overly clever with its wordplay. I just couldn’t make it through on second view. Completely torturous.

    The best part is one of the first lines of the film: “Nonsense, you tried it in the tail yesterday and it didn’t work.”

    I hope you guys had more fun with it than I.

  3. February 14, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    PS — I was glad to read it bombed and that Hawks didn’t like it either.

  4. LMM
    February 15, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    I actually saw this movie on time! and I loved it.
    This was only, sadly, my second screening of a Hepburn film (the first being Lion in Winter, which is great) and I’ve seen two other Grant films (NXNW and His Girl Friday), but put them together and I love them even more. I know they have done other films together, and will be checking them out soon.

    The element of this film that I loved the most was that the screwball elements felt natural. From the very first introduction to these characters you realize that they are sort of flighty and preoccupied. You could even say they were a bit selfish, and spaced when it came to things outside their own interests. It’s interesting that the A.V. Club has an article about the negligee scene after we screening it, but they really do sum up that scene perfectly. Grant running out, and completely comfortable, in the negligee made it even funnier. It didn’t become this huge production on what he had to wear. He dealt with it and tried to take care of his business.

    The comedy, while screwball and out there, was delivered nicely. If this movie was remade today, it would be completely ridiculous! The falls would be over-dramatic, the antics focused on, and the mishaps emphasized over story. Sure, the antics were played out, but it played out within the story.

    The storyline of the leopard was over the top, but I never questioned it. Same goes with the fact that he was a zoologist. Besides Ross on Friends, I can’t think of any mainstream character whose career is putting animals from 65 millions ago together. The fact that he was a zoologist probably was done to incorporate the stealing of the bone by George and the falling of the Brontosaurus at the end. It worked for me. I never thought to question it. I liked the fact that it was so off the wall. It comes down to the fact that all the elements blended nicely together, seamlessly, and played out without focusing on the foreshadowing element. For example, the stealing of the car and the mention of the circus.

    There is one thing about the movie that did sort of bother me.
    I loved how Susan, when you first meet her, was very strong and didn’t buckle when David tried to tell her something else. Granted, she was wrong and should of listened, but she didn’t care what he said. She was going to do what she wanted to do. I loved her strength. I was then bothered later in the story when she becomes a bit manic with her love for David. She falls apart at bit. However, you could argue that she still tried to win him over in the way she wanted to, not in the typical bat your eyes submissive way. I get annoyed when great female characters fall apart at the first sign of love. That’s another topic entirely.

    It was a genuinely funny movie. The actors played their characters with ease and realism that didn’t make them over the top or caricatures. They truly are some of the best actors in film history.

    And on a random note, I would like to make a suggestion for a screening. This has recently become one of my favorite films and want the world to experience it.
    Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
    Betty Davis and Joan Crawford.

    • February 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

      I came here with the intention of posting a link to the AVClub article only to see you mentioned it, so good on you for reading such an awesome site. Here’s the link for anyone else who may be interested: http://www.avclub.com/articles/bringing-up-baby,38183/

    • February 17, 2010 at 8:28 AM

      Definitely agree on the genuine hilarity of the movie. ALl the actors and actresses were in top form. I was also a bit disappointed in how Susan very suddenly falls head-over-heels for David. It would’ve been better (and more believable) if there was a gradual interest developing over several scenes in between the purely funny, crazy parts.

      As soon as I saw that brontosaurus in the opening scene, I thought, “That thing is going to come crashing down at some point.” It was just too precarious-looking to be left alone in a comedy like this.

      • LMM
        February 17, 2010 at 9:05 AM

        I was also bothered by Susan’s sudden transformation from strong woman to woman in love. I know it’s all over the place in film, but it still bothers me.

  5. LMM
    February 15, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    Why thank you. Although, I was greatly influenced by my older sister on the awesomeness of the A.V. Club.

  6. February 15, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Once again I didn’t much care for the movie (surprise surprise, right?). I just never felt engaged by the characters or the story enough to really care to finish the film, but I did finish it. All I really got out of watching it was a desire to have a pet leopard someday, but I doubt that will ever come to fruition.

    I hope that at some point I start enjoying more of these films.

    • February 15, 2010 at 2:08 PM

      Hawks said that one of his mistakes was not having a straight-man/woman in the film, so there was nothing to ground the mayhem. Any thoughts?

      • February 15, 2010 at 2:14 PM

        Baby was pretty much the straight man…right?

        I thought that the dialogue was all delivered way too fast, like it was being read, not like it was being thought of. I am a bit sad I didn’t like this movie as I have only heard raves about it. We’ll see what this week brings, but I think if the soon to be public intro is any sign, I won’t like Nashville either (I liked the intro, just that it doesn’t sell me on the movie).

      • February 17, 2010 at 8:40 AM

        I think this is a good point by Hawks. As I started to watch the film, Grant seemed to me the straight man, but he quickly got caught up in the mayhem and I think that a more reliable straight element was needed, especially toward the end.

    • February 17, 2010 at 8:30 AM

      I was engaged by the characters for about two-thirds of the film, then got the feeling you got right after that point.

  7. LMM
    February 15, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I always read the trivia on IMDb after I see a film, and have seen both comments about Hawks hating the film and not having a straight-character.

    I agree with the latter. I think it would of been a stronger movie if there was that character. The aunt could of been, and seemed to be at first, but then she became that batty old rich aunt. The only batty old rich aunt worth seeing is Auntie Mame!
    I think the addition on the character would of had a grounded element that would of made the spacy characters of David and Susan work better. They would of been two mad-capped personalities in a straight world, and them together made sense.

    I do think, however, that they did have a straight-girl character, but who wasn’t used, is the fiance Alice. It seemed that she was the grounding force to David’s absence from the beginning. I can’t think of how they could of incorporated her more into the story without ruining the essence, and the plot, of the movie.

    I hadn’t really paid attention to the way the dialogue was delivered. Or at least the way it was delivered didn’t cause me to think one way or another about it. In thinking about it more, I liked the fast talking Susan. You could say that her talking fast was one more way that Susan was not your typical woman. Hepburn was a pioneer in those characters, and the spastic speech of her characters add to that defiance.
    (Some of the quotes in Hepburn’s IMDb page are quick hilarious. She was definitely a personality.)

  8. February 15, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Susan’s delivery was ok, but when it was coupled with the off-the-pageness of all the other characters, any specialness it might have contained was lost (at least for me). Because it became less part of her character, and more of just the way the movie was.

    I think using the fiancee, and then the story be about David seeing two sides to a coin (relationship with one, then the other) woman, and having to make a choice between the two, would have made for a much stronger movie. His character could have grown and changed through out the entire film, rather then just at the very end. I think David being a bit more grounded, so that he had one foot in one world, and the other in the other, and through the film he experienced the differences in each…and then the film climaxed with him choosing one over there other would have been much more satisfying to me.

    • LMM
      February 15, 2010 at 3:08 PM

      That is true, and the more I do think of it, the exaggerated characters were a bit much. I guess for me I focused more on Hepburn and Grant, and I like the way they played of each other and were willing to take their characters into a new realm without it being ridiculous. Ridiculous as to what it’s counterpart would be in today’s films.

      I think the plot you just mentioned would of been a stronger film. Good job. Cary Grant is a very suave and handsome man, it would be been amazing to see him in both worlds, worlds he’s played in different movies, in one film.
      Ultimately, I think Bringing Up Baby is just a mad-capped crazy film; in the same vain as It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

    • February 17, 2010 at 8:34 AM

      Although the plot of this film isn’t quite what you described, it did remind me of The Captain’s Paradise, an excellent Alec Guinness comedy from 1953. I’d recommend that film to anyone. A very funny and clever film, and I suspect it would sustain interest in its main character, at least, more so than Bringing Up Baby might.

  9. February 17, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    Finally watched this. I definitely enjoyed it overall, but felt that it dragged on and became tiresome toward the end. With a madcap movie like this, nearly every scene must face the challenge of topping the zaniness that has come before it, and I think the strain of that starts to show when they’re looking for Baby and George, and there’s another leopard on the loose, and Susan, David, the aunt and Maj. Applegate are all traipsing about in the woods.

    At that point, what was happening on screen really became inconsequential to me because the characters just became a background for whatever random antics were going on. Then when they all end up in jail, it felt like all the actors were just showing up and talking away to kill time (although I did very much like Hepburn’s gangster impression, however gratuitous it was). Maybe this is part of the contrived feeling that Nate mentioned in his first post. The film just needed to be shorter and tighter to better sustain its craziness, and perhaps more focused on David and Susan’s developing relationship.

    Then again, maybe the film really just wanted to be a zany screwball comedy, not a character-driven comedy, and on that level it certainly succeeds. I found a lot of the scenes, especially in the first two thirds of the film, to be really quite funny. I enjoyed the interplay between Grant and Hepburn. David yelling at Susan, and Susan just totally ignoring him, was priceless. I just wish the movie had a bit more invested in their relationship…more awkward scenes showing how the mismatched pair slowly do, in fact, become perfect for each other.

    For some reason, one of the funniest parts in the movie for me was when David keeps getting up and saying “Excuse me” and walking away to follow George when they’re all having dinner together. The way Grant underplays it (as he often does) was really hilarious.

    Still, as far as 1930s comedies go, my favorite is still It Happened One Night. That is an excellent movie.

    • February 17, 2010 at 8:51 AM

      Also, I forgot to say I really liked the various animal noises in the film they used for Baby. They were entertaining.

      I also love how in older films, whenever they make a dog whimper, growl, bark, etc., it hardly ever matches what the dog is doing. I’d imagine it’s pretty difficult to record dog noises that match up perfectly with how wide and often a dog’s mouth opens and closes on screen, but I usually get the feeling the foley artists just eventually give up and put in whatever dog noises they want the dog character to make, whether it looks like it’s coming from the dog’s mouth or not. I saw this in at least one scene with George in Bringing Up Baby. This is not a criticism, really, just something I find hilarious.

      • LMM
        February 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM

        I loved the purrs they used for Baby. Being a cat lover, my heart melted at that sound. Or how Baby would rub against a leg to get petted….totally want a big cat as a pet now!

        • February 17, 2010 at 9:30 AM

          I now want a pet leopard…but I don’t think that will ever be a reality.

          • LMM
            February 17, 2010 at 9:57 AM

            Well, you could get a Savannah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savannah_(cat) It is a mix between a wild and a domesticated cat. They get to be about the size of a small to medium dog. They also cost around 6,000. Anything is possible…..

    • LMM
      February 17, 2010 at 9:15 AM

      There is a difference in the way the first half of the movie feels compared to the second half.

      My favorite scene in the first half is the golf scene. From when Susan takes his ball to his car, I loved how she just ignored him. I thought that she was going to be the one he had to try to get money out of. When it was clear she wasn’t, it never occurred to me that she still might have a connection to this mystery lady. It was very predictable that she would be connected, but I didn’t felt cheated by the lack of originality when it came up.

      In the second half, I still love the negligee scene, but the following of George at dinner, like you mentioned, is very classic and hilarious.

      It might be just me, but Maj. Applegate sort of reminded me of the Monopoly Man.

      • February 18, 2010 at 9:42 AM

        I once saw a Savannah at one of the exotic petstores in Austin, I think it was Herpeton. It was about the size of a house-cat, but was still a kitten. It was so cute, but I don’t think I could afford one, and I think I might be more of a dog person really. If memory serves it was $5k. I always wondered what they were called though.

  10. February 17, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Geez, a lot has been going on since I checked here last. I don’t have much to add to a good discussion because so much about the film is off-putting to me. I am surprised that you guys like the whole “not listening” aspect. That drives me crazy. Certainly, it happens, but I hate that everything in this film occurs because people refuse to sit down and have a conversation. Of course, if they did that, there would be no movie, but that’s fine by me. It also strains credibility to believe that Grant’s character would fall in love with someone like that. A lifetime of someone who refuses to listen to what you’re saying would be hell.

    Also, I don’t think that Grant’s fiancee playing a bigger role would help ground the film. She’s not a normal human being either. She’s completely screwy in the opposite direction, believing that there is no time for a honeymoon or fun in a marriage, only for work. She’s just as much of a caricature.

    • LMM
      February 18, 2010 at 9:26 AM

      I see your point about the not listening situation, but for me it was a comic aspect that I enjoyed. In real life that would drive me up the wall! I did have a hard time believing David fell in love with Susan during this whole fiasco, but in the end I liked them together so I sort of looked past that.

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