Bringing Up Baby (1938)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 42 mins

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Colourful and charming, this hilarious Romantic comedy revolves around the misadventures of the mild-mannered palaeontologist Dr. David Huxley. Both his professional and personal life are at a peak, and he is excited by the news that an intercostal clavicle bone has been found to complete his brontosaurus skeleton, a project four years in the construction. He is equally excited about his imminent marriage to his assistant, the officious Alice Swallow, who is interested in him more for his work than for him as a person. David needs the $1 million endowment of wealthy dowager Mrs. Carleton Random to complete the project. Her lawyer, Alexander Peabody, will make the decision on her behalf, so David needs to get in his favor. However, whenever David tries to make a good impression on Peabody, the same young woman always seems to do something to make him look bad. She is the flighty heiress Susan Vance, and her entry into this life is enough to send him on a dizzying rollercoaster ride of misadventures, love being the most dangerous of them!
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Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn

Crew: Howard Hawks (Director), Russell Metty (Director of Photography), Roy Webb (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Release Dates: 18 Feb 1938 (India)

Tagline: And so begins the hilarious adventure of Professor David Huxley and Miss Susan Vance, a flutter-brained vixen with love in her heart! [Theatrical trailer.]

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Did you know? The scene in which Susan's dress is ripped was inspired by something that happened to Cary Grant. He was at the Roxy Theater one night and his pants zipper was down when it caught on the back of a woman's dress. Grant impulsively followed her. When he told this story to Howard Hawks, Hawks loved it and put it into the film. Read More
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Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35:1, 1.37:1
And so begins the hilarious adventure of Professor David Huxley and Miss Susan Vance, a flutter-brained vixen with love in her heart! [Theatrical trailer.]
Crew/Equipment Visible
When Susan is in her apartment and tells David she thinks he's "found a real friend" in Baby, a wire briefly falls into the view of the mirror in the background.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When Applegate and Gogarty find the leopard, you can see the shadow of the leopard's trainer come into camera, for just a second, as the leopard moves forward.

Factual Mistake
The wildcat used in the role of "Baby the leopard" is actually a jaguar, an entirely different species from another continent. Leopards are from Africa; jaguars are native to South America, and occasionally sighted in the American Southwest. Ironically Katherine Hepburn's character says her brother sent it to her from South America, but she still calls it a leopard.

Revealing Mistakes
There is no glass in the windshield of David's car. When David and Susan are arguing over the ownership of the car and she drives off, to catch his balance David grabs the frame of the windshield putting his fingers through where the glass should be.

Revealing Mistakes
Katharine Hepburn generally didn't handle the leopard. One scene where this becomes obvious is when Susan has the wild leopard on a leash and is trying to pull him into the jail house. The angle of her end of the leash and the leash attached to the leopard are noticeably different, for they were shot at two different times with a matte.

Revealing Mistakes
Gogarty and Maj. Horace Applegate come across the leopard, and Applegate says, "Personally, Gogarty, I think you're a liar!" They start to run away from the leopard, when suddenly part of the leopard's head is transparent. You can see right through to the wall.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Susan hits the back of the truck, the sounds of geese squawking can be heard while it's chickens flying out of the containers.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When Susan follows Fritz into the house, the shadow of the boom mic can be seen against the wall of the house.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When David and Susan are putting Baby into the stall in the stable, the shadow of the boom is very clear in the lower front left corner of the screen as they close the stall door.

Character Error
The Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus skeleton has numerous errors, including the head of a different dinosaur, Camarasaurus. This was not known until certain discoveries were made at least 30 years after the film came out.

Character Error
Susan says her brother trapped Baby while he was hunting in Brazil. There are no leopards in Brazil. There are, however, jaguars.

Character Error
At about the 1:02 mark - when David is explaining to Major Applegate that he's searching for the dog, George and the bone, he refers to him as "Major Appletree".

At the end of the movie, Susan falls from a platform erected in the center of the back wall. However, in the closer views that follow, the platform is in a different location: about six yards further right, in front of a skeletal exhibit hanging on the wall. In the closing long shot, the platform is back in the center.

When David and Susan first meet on the golf course, Grant is holding his club in one shot and then not in the next. The caddy behind also goes from holding a club and not in the same shots.

Susan closes the box that holds the Intercostal Clavicle, but when George retrieves the clavicle the box is open ready for him.

When Susan makes the long putt, she and David run side-by-side toward the hole. The scene cuts to more of a close up, and we see Susan suddenly 2-3 steps behind David.
Before the movie was released Cary Grant had been worried that he might never become a major star after all, since he was already nearly 34 at the time of filming and younger actors like Errol Flynn and James Stewart were established stars.

The shooting of this movie was frequently delayed due to uncontrollable laughing fits between Hepburn and Grant.

A tame leopard was used during the shooting; its trainer was off-screen with a whip for all its scenes.

There is no musical score for the film, with the exception of the opening and end titles.

David's response to Aunt Elizabeth asking him why he is wearing a woman's dressing gown ("Because I just went gay all of a sudden!") is considered by many film historians to be the first use of the word "gay" in its roughly modern sense (as opposed to its archaic meaning of "happy, carefree") in an American studio film. Among homosexuals, the word first came into its current use during the 1920s or possibly even earlier, though it was not widely known by heterosexuals as a slang term for homosexuals until the late 1960s. The line was not in the original shooting script for the film; it was an ad lib from Cary Grant himself.

This movie was the second of four movies pairing Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

Cary Grant was not fond of the leopard that was used in the film. Once, to torture him, Katharine Hepburn put a stuffed leopard through a vent in the top of his dressing room. "He was out of there like lightning," wrote Hepburn in her autobiography Me: Stories of My Life.

The scene in which Susan's dress is ripped was inspired by something that happened to Cary Grant. He was at the Roxy Theater one night and his pants zipper was down when it caught on the back of a woman's dress. Grant impulsively followed her. When he told this story to Howard Hawks, Hawks loved it and put it into the film.

This movie fared so badly at the box office that Howard Hawks was fired from his next production at RKO and Katharine Hepburn bought out her contract to avoid being cast in the film Mother Carey's Chickens (1938). Coincidentally, Hepburn was labeled "box office poison" on the same day her contract was dissolved.

Katharine Hepburn had never done any comedy before and had to be trained in gags and timing by Howard Hawks and several veteran vaudevillians he employed solely to train Hepburn. Cary Grant came to the film with his sense of comic timing already impeccably in place.

Katharine Hepburn was generally fearless around the young leopard 'Nissa (II)' who played "Baby" and even enjoyed petting it. Cary Grant was less fond of the big cat and a double was used in the scenes where his character and the leopard had to make contact.

Katharine Hepburn had one very close call with the leopard. She was wearing a skirt that was lined with little metal pieces to make the skirt swing prettily. When Hepburn turned around abruptly, the leopard made a lunge for her back. Only the intervention of the trainer's whip saved Hepburn. The leopard was not allowed to roam around freely after that, and Hepburn was more careful around it from then on.

Howard Hawks modeled Cary Grant's character, David, on silent film comedian Harold Lloyd, even having Grant wear glasses like the comedian.