Han, hun og leoparden
Having watched ”Bringing up Baby” I feel a bit dizzy as must Dr. Huxley alias Cary Grant after having spent what probably amounts to a weekend with Susan Vance alias Katharine Hepburn. She is whirl-wind; a twister that throws everything into the air and nobody is safe in her path. Oh, she is gorgeous in that role. Cary Grant is always good, quickly on his way to become my favorite actor, but this movie belongs entirely to Katharine Hepburn.
“Bringing up baby” is touted as the quintessential screwball comedy. Now, being Danish I am not entirely sure what “screwball comedy” means, but if this is it, then I love screwball comedy. I would prefer to class it as a comedy focused on hilarious dialogue where events spin entirely out of control. As such it is related to “The Awful Truth” but “Bringing up baby” takes it to a far wackier extreme not unlike “Fawlty Towers”.
Dr. Huxley is a paleontologist spending his time building a skeletal dinosaur and just about to get married to his bone-dry secretary. With his glasses and manners he looks more like Harold Lloyd than Cary Grant. Or maybe Clark Kent alias Superman. A rich benefactor is contemplating a donation of 1 million dollars for the museum and Dr. Huxley is sent out to play golf with the lawyer of the benefactor to grease the way for the donation.
Through an unlikely turn of events Dr. Huxley gets involved with Susan Vance. First she takes his golf ball and play along, ignoring his protests, then she drives away in his car and at the dinner in the evening instead of having a dinner with the lawyer, the dear doctor falls victim to more of Miss Vance impulsive acts of lunacy. Susan Vance is a scatterbrain. None of the things she does are thought through it appears and Dr. Huxley soon wish her far far away. There is however some intention to her acts. Apparently she has set her eyes on him and now works to keep him away from his own wedding.
This all sounds like a horrible woman and it is a mess the good doctor is in but it is also hilariously funny Katharine Hepburn is quite endearing.
Events escalate. They end up in Connecticut with a Leopard in tow, looking everywhere for a bone from a dinosaur that the dog has buried somewhere, then looking for the leopard that has disappeared all the while hiding his real identity from Susan’s aunt who is actually the benefactor. And everything Susan say or does just makes it worse for Huxley and funnier for us.
Today there are tons of comedies building on this concept of events spinning entirely out of control, but this one is still ranking among the best of them. Apparently it did not do so well at the box office in its time and that I do not really get. Maybe in 1938 the audience was not ready for this sort of anarchy, but I just say their loss. On every level “Bringing up Baby” works perfect. I only really have one concern:
How on earth is Dr. Huxley going to get through life with that disaster zone of a wife?