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"Bringing up Baby"
Directed by Howard Hawks with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepurn and Charles Ruggles, black and white, minutes, 1938

Hepburn, Grant and Baby

Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and "Baby"

\By Carter B. Horsley

In "Bringing Up Baby" Katharine Hepburn, a daffy society gal, does her darndest to ensnare Cary Grant, a nerdy paleontologist on the eve of his wedding to his assistant at the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History. 

The "baby" is a pet leopard who swoons when he hears "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby."

But we're getting ahead of ourselves because we don't meet "Baby" right away.

First we meet Mr. Grant's character, Dr. David Huxley on a scaffold in a museum next to the very big skeleton of a big Brontosaurus dinosaur as he learns that an important missing bone, an "intercostal clavicle" has been found in Utah and will be delivered to him the next day when he is planning to get married.  He then goes off to play golf with Alexander Peabody, a lawyer who represents a wealthy philanthropist planning to give the museum one million dollars for construction of the dinosaur hall.

As he walks to his ball to make his next shot, he sees Susan Vance, played by Hepburn, hit it and she claims it was her ball on the 18th hole.  He explains that he was played with a Pro-Flight ball that has a circle imprinted on it and when he sinks it in her hole he pulls it out and points to the circle.  "Well of course it is.  Do you think it would run if it were square?" she retorts, a defiant non-sensicality as she storms off and get into a car and drive off.  She may be a competent golfer, but not a great driver as she proceeds to bang into other cars as Grant cries out that it's his car, not hers.

"Your golf ball?  Your car?  Is there anything in the world that doesn't belong to you?" Hepburn declares.

"Yes,  thank heaven - you!" Grant responds, as Hepburn drives away with Grant still standing on his car's running board, an unspoken declaration of her superiority.

The next scene is in the evening as Grant enters a nightclub wearing black tie and tails and slips on an olive that Hepburn had been fiddling with at the bar. He gets up to go an meet Peabody as Hepburn pursues him but stops to grab more olives from a table where Dr. Fritz Lehman is diningand identifies himself as a psychiatrist, prompting Hepburn to declare, "Oh! Crazy people."  He remarked that "all people who behave strangely are not insane." She then asks what he would say "about a man who follows a girl around...and fights with me" which leads Lehman to suggest that "the love impulse in men very frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict" adding that his "rough guess would be that he has a fixation on you."


After she grabs one of his jacket's "tails" as he is about to run away from her, his jacket gets torn and then he steps on her gown and as she departs the backside of it is torn off, exposing her panties.  He then tries to cover her backside with his crushed top hat and then decides to exit by walking extremely closely behind her in lock-step, much to the amusement of nearby diners.

Hepburn sews up his jacket in her apartment and introduces Grant to Baby, a pet leopard that just arrived from her brother in Brazil.

Grant declares that he doesn't like leopard as Baby cuddles around his leg.  Hepburn says that the leopard loves "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and puts it on the victrola and then all three of them head off in her car to visit her aunt in Connecticut.  She bumps into a truck load of chickens and the leopard gives chase. 

Grant decides to stop at a butchers to get something for Baby: thirty pounds of meat!

At last they get to her aunt's and Hepburn suggests that Grant take a shower and while he's in the shower tells the cook to take his clothes into town to be cleaned.  Grant discovers that the only clothes he can find is a frilly nightgown.

Cary Grant

Grant, Hepburn, Hepburn's aunt, and George

Grant on staircase having just told Hepburn's aunt that he is wearing those clothes "because I just went gay all of a sudden!" with George, a wire-haired terrier also was also Asta in "The Thin Man."  George runs off with Grant's intercostal clavicle and buries it somewhere on the estate.  Hepburn tells her aunt that she's going to marry Grant: "He doesn't know it but I am."  Her aunt cautions her against marrying him on her money, declaring that she doesn't want "another lunatic in the family."  She asks what is his name.  Hepburn replies, "Bone."

Later, at a dinner party in the house, Grant meets Major Horace Applegate, played by Charles Ruggles, who describes himself as a big game hunter.  When he imitates the cry of a leopard, Baby replies.

The plot thickens when another leopard, not so tame, escapes in the neighborhood and is captured by Hepburn who mistook him for the pet leopard.

Grant ends up in a jail cell and is joined by other members of Hepburn's family and the staff of the museum.

Hepburn shows up with the intercostal clavicle and her aunt decides to give her a million dollars that she decdes to give to Grant's museum.

The next day she visits grant at the museum where he is working atop a scafford over the brontosaurus.  She climbs up a ladder as Grant confesses he never had a better day. 


In their mutual enchantment, however, the ladder begins to sway and Hepburn leaps onto the dinosaur which collapses, of course, leading Grant to muse "Oh, dear.  Oh, my.  Hmmmm"

As Tim Dirks declares in his very lengthy review at, the movie is "one of the funniest, wackiest and most inspired films of all time with its characteristic breathless pace, zany antics and pratfalls, absurd situations and misunderstandings, perfect sense of comic timing, completely screwball cast, series of lunatic and hare-brained misadventures, disasters, light-hearted surprises and romantic comedy," adding that "at the time of its release, it failed miserably at the box-office and was soon forgotten...."


Mr. Dirks noted the "the film's screenplay (by Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde) was taken from a Collier's Magazine story authored by Hagar Wilde."

"Reportedly, the plot of the antagonistic romance was inspired by the alleged affair that bespectacled director John Ford had with a mismatched Hepburn during the filming of Mary of Scotland (1936)," Mr. Dirks added.

This film is ranked 61st in Carter B. Horsley's Top 500 Sound Films

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