Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


BRINGING UP BABY (1938). Director: Howard Hawks.

After sixty-seven years this hilarious film arguably remains the best and funniest “screwball” comedy ever made. Katharine Hepburn is an heiress who is instantly attracted to a somewhat stuffy but handsome and likable scientist (Cary Grant) whose life she turns upside down (on the eve of his marriage to a cold fish, no less) as she not only tries to win him over but deal with a tamed leopard named Baby who was dropped off at her door. Grant is putting together the bones of a dinosaur and is supposed to take particular care of a certain specimen which winds up being buried in an enormous backyard by Hepburn's little dog. If that's not enough, a dangerous leopard escapes from a zoo and is mistaken for Hepburn's charming pet. Add Hepburn's peppery relative (May Robson), an alleged big game hunter (Charlie Ruggles) and other eccentrics to the mix and you've got a classic that sparkles and delights from start to finish. While the material may seem more geared to Lucille Ball, Hepburn gives a wonderful, interestingly nuanced performance, and Grant puts his fine comic gifts on display throughout. Howard Hawks keeps things at a brisk pace. While I've never belonged to the school of major Hawks' admirers, it has to be said that this is one of his best pictures, far more memorable than Rio Bravo and others of its ilk.

Verdict: Great! ***1/2

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