Bringing Up Baby (1942)

1942, RKO. Directed by Howard Hawks. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles, Walter Catlett, Barry Fitzgerald, May Robson, Fritz Feld.

Decent Films Ratings

Entertainment Value
Value (+4/-4)
? +0
?Kids & Up

External Ratings


Content advisory: Mild comic menace; a fleeting jocular reference to cross-dressing.

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Bringing Up Baby

A National Catholic Register "Video/DVD Picks" capsule review.

By Steven D. Greydanus

The zaniest, most delightful, most romantic screwball comedy of them all, Bringing Up Baby features Katherine Hepburn at her effervescent best and Cary Grant in a marvelous performance combining stuffiness and injured dignity with his usual debonair charm.

Grant plays a bookish paleontologist unfelicitously engaged to his even stuffier assistant (Virginia Walker); Hepburn’s a flighty, madcap socialite who bursts into his life on the 18th fairway and is very soon literally driving him to distraction. Grant’s meticulously assembled dinosaur skeleton perfectly embodies the ossified, dead-end direction his personal life is currently taking, and contrasts strikingly with the much livelier and more formidable (not to mention quirkier) beast he meets in Hepburn’s company — a Brazilian leopard with old-fashioned taste in music.

In a performance reportedly inspired by silent comedian Harold Lloyd, the bespectacled Grant does the slow burn beautifully; and Hepburn’s battering-ram personality and non-sequitur repartee are irresistible rather than irritating. From the rollicking dialogue to the daft situations to the deft physical comedy, Bringing Up Baby has it all.

Tags: Screwball Comedy, Comedy, Romance

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