Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant

'Bringing Up Baby' is a ground-breaking romantic comedy film made in 1938, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Although it is now regarded as a timeless classic screwball comedy, it was not well received on its first release and failed dismally at the box-office. It also failed to register a single Academy Award nomination. Partly as a result of the movie's initial dismal showing, Katharine Hepburn was characterised as being "box-office poison".

In the intervening years it has surged back in popularity, and with good reason. It is a genuine "feel-good" film with a fast-moving plot full of sharp, witty dialogue and superb comedy played by a magnificent cast including Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant at the very top of their form. It is an undoubted classic and and has set the standard for screwball comedies ever since.

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In 1990, 'Bringing Up Baby' was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It is ranked at number 14 on The American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Laughs list and at number 88 on their list of 100 Best Movies.

The plot is as simple as it is absurd, and involves, not one, but two leopards, one tame and one a wild escapee from a circus, giving rise to a delicious twist on mistaken identity gags. Cary Grant plays David Huxley, a mild-mannered paleontologist, who has to convince a wealthy donor to grant money for his museum. He gets involved with a scatterbrained free spirit called Susan, played by Katharine Hepburn, who is responible for one of the leopards, who is the 'Baby' of the title. Their initial antagonism soon develops into a blossoming romance amidst a bizarre series of events and weird, crazy situations, all of them genuinely funny.

Main Cast

Katharine Hepburn ... Susan Vance
Cary Grant ... Dr. David Huxley
Charles Ruggles ... Maj. Horace Applegate
Walter Catlett ... Constable Slocum
Barry Fitzgerald ... Aloysius Gogarty
May Robson ... Aunt Elizabeth Random
Fritz Feld ... Dr. Fritz Lehman
George Irving ... Alexander Peabody
Leona Roberts ... Hannah Gogarty
Tala Birell ... Mrs. Lehman
Virginia Walker ... Alice Swallow
John Kelly ... Elmer


Director ... Howard Hawks
Producer ... Howard Hawks
Production Company ... RKO Radio Pictures
Story ... Based on a short story by Hagar Wilde
Screenplay ... Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde
Cinematography ... Russell Metty
Music ... Roy Webb
Format ... B & W
Initial Release ... 18 February, 1938
Running Time ... 100 or 102 minutes

Academy Awards

No Nominations