A Short Review of Bringing Up Baby (1937)

Below is a short review of the 1937 film Bringing Up Baby, starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, which is available to watch on BBC IPlayer.

I finally had the chance to sit down and watch the 1937 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, an RKO Picture which is currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK; As part of a moderate selection of films from the historic studio.

The film starred Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, who find themselves pulled together by fate and circumstance. It started as a sort of proto-romantic comedy, with a few cutely funny moments between the leads; The filming style lent an awkward quality that enchances those situations. Then once Baby the Leopard enters the scene, it goes off into all sorts of comedically wonderful situations.

This is possibly the most endearing performance I’ve ever seen from Hepburn, who plays a clumsy well-meaning heiress. Her character Susan is willing to use any methods to reach her goal: be that lies, persuasion or physical – the latter of which often brings about delightfully farcical moments.

Grant’s character David is a dedicated scientist, simply trying to assemble the skeleton of a dinosaur in his museum. He seems oblivious to emotion, and his relationship with his fiance is consumed by their obsession with their cause.

When their worlds accidentally collide and it turns out they have more in common than they could have imagined, their friction precipitates unexpected wild adventure.

In addition to the two leads, there was support by such veteran performers as Charles Ruggles (The Parent Trap), Barry Fitzgerald (The Quiet Man), May Robson and Fritz Feld. Each of them help to push the story along, add an extra layer of absurdity and occasionally steal the scene. High praise, also, for the dog that played George!

I grew up watching “animal” films, so tend to roll my eyes at attempts to make animals funny onscreen. This is something of a forerunner to those animal escapade family movies of the 1960s and 70s. Only, this one doesn’t overdo it. The balance between jeopardy and comedy is pleasing.

Indeed, Bringing Up Baby is almost a more sophisticated blueprint for many movie techniques, tropes and narrative devices of the future, with screwball elements in a time before we, with modern eyes, would perhaps expect. The comedic weight of this film is extremely high, with a nice balance between physical and clever dialogue. The pacing may seem stilted by modern standards, but Howard Hawks’ direction does what it needs to.

Bringing up Baby is a silly romantic romp that is well worth a watch. BRINGING UP BABY IS AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON BBC IPLAYER

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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