BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
By Howard Hawks. It immortalized "the intercostal clavicle" as zoologist Cary Grant is pursued by socialite flutterhead Katharine Hepburn and they both seek Baby, the runaway pet leopard which catalyzes madness. Grant and Hepburn are superbly matched, because they're both so good at being each in his/her own world. She's a sort of dizzy dame, he's the absent-minded professor -- but that's too easy a description really. Both bring to their parts a fantastic amount of personality made up of both spaciness and canniness. Charles Ruggles, as a bumbling big-game hunter in suburbia, is but one of the fine supporting cast.
Everyone is superbly served by the ingenious, humorous script of Dudley Nichols and the funny, sure-handed direction of Howard Hawks. And all the actors repay both the writer and the director with splendidly-timed comic performances. This is the epitomy of American fast-moving fun, with exemplary gags and pacing, and with relatively subtler male-female role reversals. The leopard scenes were a tour de force of special effects. What looks natural is not--and that includes a tail painted on the frame. (The tricks are by Linwood Dunn.) Director Hawks said called it his favorite comedy. At his best Hawks was equally good with action dramas, Westerns, and screwball movies. A cool planner, he carefully surrounded himself with top collaborators and allowed his actors free play whenever (as was often the case), their spontaneity of movement and speech resulted in improving the strict mandates of a script. (Edwin Jahiel)
Copyright © Edwin Jahiel
Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel