Monday, August 30, 2010

Bringing Up Baby: the Story of a Girl, a Boy, a Leopard, and an Intercostal Clavicle

I personally am a little miffed at how easily people dismiss black and white movies as being dull and overly complicated. These people should be tied to the floor for an hour and a half and made to watch Bringing up Baby. The only thing hard to understand about this movie is due to the speed at which the characters talk. It's just not possible for any movie involving a ditzy socialite and absent-minded professor, a yippy dog, a leopard, and an intercostal clavicle to be dull. 

What’s odd about this movie is that when it came out it got rubbish reviews Paramount called it a "catastrophe". They even ended their contract with Katharine Hepburn. Yet Bringing up baby is one of the most loved classic films of all time. The only reasonable exclamation I can come up with is that it must have been ahead of its time. After all the film industry was just closing the door on the age silent movies, the fast passed, witty dialog must have been too much for them. 
My favourite thing about watching this movie, beyond the funny dialog, clever characters, and outrageous plot twists is seeing Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn without the typecasting. Hepburn is known for her strong feminist roles. You see her playing characters such as righteous and independent Red from Philadelphia Story. Grant is known for his dashing matinee star roles. You're more likely to see him playing the mysterious man in black or a charming but settled family man.  

In Bringing Up Baby Grant plays a nerdy zoologist. He sports a pair of thick-rimmed glasses that has the same effect as superman's specs for hiding his stunning good looks. Unlike his character in his girl Friday Grant stubbles over his words and gets tongue-tied whenever Hepburn's character shows up one the scene.

Hepburn plays a ditzy and lovesick socialite. She’s airy and outwardly seems stupid yet she is clever in a conniving yet admirable way. This is often the way with Howard Hawk’s main characters. It’s something I love about old movies; subtle strength is a single facet of the deep and relatable characters. Even in a screwball comedy like this the characters make an impression. 


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