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''Bringing Up Baby'' is a 1938 American
screwball comedy Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life Slice of life describes the depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainment. In th ...
film directed by
Howard Hawks Howard Winchester Hawks (May 30, 1896December 26, 1977) was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era. Critic Leonard Maltin Leonard Michael Maltin (born December 18, 1950) is an American film critic ...
, and starring
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited ...
and
Cary Grant Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach; January 18, 1904November 29, 1986) was an English-American actor. Known for his transatlantic accent The Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent, is a cultivated Accent (sociolinguistics), accent ...

Cary Grant
. It was released by
RKO Radio Pictures RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big FiveBig Five may refer to: Animals * th ...
. The film tells the story of a paleontologist in a number of predicaments involving a scatterbrained heiress and a leopard named Baby. The screenplay was adapted by
Dudley Nichols Dudley Nichols (April 6, 1895 – January 4, 1960) was an American screenwriter and film director. He was the first person to decline an Academy Award, as part of a boycott to gain recognition for the Screen Writers Guild; he would later accept ...
and
Hagar Wilde Hagar Wilde (July 7, 1905 – September 25, 1971) was an American playwright and screenwriter in the late 1930s till the late 1950s. She is perhaps best known for the screenplays for ''Bringing Up Baby ''Bringing Up Baby'' is a 1938 Ame ...
from a short story by Wilde which originally appeared in ''
Collier's Weekly ''Collier's'' was an American general interest magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, enter ...
'' magazine on April 10, 1937. The script was written specifically for Hepburn, and was tailored to her personality. Filming began in September 1937 and wrapped in January 1938; it was over schedule and over budget. Production was frequently delayed due to uncontrollable laughing fits between Hepburn and Grant. Hepburn struggled with her comedic performance and was coached by another cast member, vaudeville veteran
Walter Catlett Walter Leland Catlett (February 4, 1889 – November 14, 1960) was an American actor and comedian. He made a career of playing excitable, meddlesome, temperamental, and officious blowhards. Career Catlett was born on February 4, 1889, in ...
. A tame leopard was used during the shooting; its trainer was off-screen with a whip for all of its scenes. ''Bringing up Baby'' was a commercial flop upon its release, although it eventually made a small profit after its re-release in the early 1940s. Shortly after the film's premiere, Hepburn was labeled as "
box office poison ''Box Office Poison'' is a series of comic books A comic book, also called comic book, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics a medium Medium may refer to: S ...
" by the Independent Theatre Owners of America and her career would not recover until ''
The Philadelphia Story''The Philadelphia Story'' could refer to: * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (play), a 1939 play * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (film), the 1940 film adaptation * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (1959 film), a TV film starring Gig Young *The Fresh Prince of ...
'' two years later. The film's reputation began to grow during the 1950s, when it was first shown on television. Since then, the film has received acclaim from both critics and audiences for its zany antics and pratfalls, absurd situations and misunderstandings, perfect sense of comic timing, completely screwball cast, series of lunatic and hare-brained misadventures, disasters, light-hearted surprises and romantic comedy. In 1990, ''Bringing Up Baby'' was selected for preservation in the
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
of the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and it has appeared on a number of greatest-films lists, ranking 88th on the
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applyin ...
's 100 greatest American films of all time list.


Plot

David Huxley (
Cary Grant Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach; January 18, 1904November 29, 1986) was an English-American actor. Known for his transatlantic accent The Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent, is a cultivated Accent (sociolinguistics), accent ...

Cary Grant
) is a mild-mannered
paleontologist Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current Geologic time scale, geological epoch. ...
. For the past four years, he has been trying to assemble the skeleton of a ''
Brontosaurus ''Brontosaurus'' (; meaning "thunder lizard" from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeas ...

Brontosaurus
'' but is missing one bone: the "intercostal
clavicle The clavicle, or collarbone, is a slender, S-shaped long bone The long bones are those that are longer than they are wide. They are one of five types of bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), a ...

clavicle
." Adding to his stress is his impending marriage to the dour Alice Swallow ( Virginia Walker) and the need to impress Elizabeth Random (
May Robson Mary Jeanette Robison (19 April 1858 – 20 October 1942), known professionally as May Robson, was an Australian-born American-based actress whose career spanned 58 years, starting in 1883 when she was 25. A major stage actress of the late 19t ...
), who is considering a million-dollar donation to his museum. The day before his wedding, David meets Susan Vance (
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited ...
) by chance on a golf course when she plays his ball. She is a free-spirited, somewhat scatterbrained, young lady, unfettered by logic. These qualities soon embroil David in several frustrating incidents. Susan's brother Mark has sent her a tame leopard named Baby (Nissa) from
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
. Its tameness is helped by hearing the song "
I Can't Give You Anything But Love "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" is an American popular song and jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics). The song was introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew L ...
." Susan thinks David is a
zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical st ...
, and manipulates him into accompanying her in taking Baby to her farm in Connecticut. Complications arise when Susan falls in love with him, and she tries to keep him at her house as long as possible, even hiding his clothes, to prevent his imminent marriage. David's prized intercostal clavicle is delivered, but Susan's aunt's dog George (
SkippySkippy may refer to: * Skippy (nickname), a list of people and fictional characters * Skippy (peanut butter), an American brand Arts and entertainments * Skippy (comic strip), ''Skippy'' (comic strip), an American strip published from 1923 to ...
) takes it and buries it somewhere. When Susan's aunt arrives, she discovers David in a negligee. To David's dismay, she turns out to be potential donor Elizabeth Random. A second message from Mark makes clear the leopard is for Elizabeth, as she always wanted one. Baby and George run off. The zoo is called to help capture Baby. Susan and David race to find Baby before the zoo and, mistaking a dangerous leopard (also portrayed by Nissa) from a nearby circus for Baby, they let it out of its cage. David and Susan are jailed by a befuddled town policeman, Constable Slocum (
Walter Catlett Walter Leland Catlett (February 4, 1889 – November 14, 1960) was an American actor and comedian. He made a career of playing excitable, meddlesome, temperamental, and officious blowhards. Career Catlett was born on February 4, 1889, in ...
), for acting strangely at the house of Dr. Fritz Lehman (
Fritz Feld Fritz Feld (October 15, 1900 – November 18, 1993) was a German-American film character actor who appeared in over 140 films in 72 years, both silent film, silent and synchronized sound, sound. His trademark was to slap his mouth with the palm ...
), where they had cornered the circus leopard, thinking it was Baby. When Slocum does not believe their story, Susan tells him they are members of the "Leopard Gang"; she calls herself "Swingin' Door Susie," and David "Jerry the Nipper." Eventually, Alexander Peabody ( George Irving) shows up to verify everyone's identity. Susan, who escaped out of a window during a police interview, unwittingly drags the highly irritated circus leopard into the jail. David saves her, using a chair to shoo the big cat into a cell. Some time later, Susan finds David, who has been jilted by Alice because of her, on a high platform working on his brontosaurus reconstruction at the museum. After showing him the missing bone which she found by trailing George for three days, Susan, against his warnings, climbs a tall ladder next to the dinosaur to be closer to him. She tells David that her aunt has given her the million dollars, and she wants to donate it to the museum, but David is more interested in telling her that the day spent with her was the best day of his life. They profess their love for each other as Susan unconsciously swings the ladder from side to side, and as it sways more and more with each swing Susan and David finally notice the ladder moving and that Susan is in danger. Frightened, she climbs onto the skeleton, causing it to collapse, and David grabs her hand just as she falls. After she dangles for a few seconds, David lifts her onto the platform. After she talks him into forgiving her without him saying a word about anything but halfheartedly complaining about the loss of his years of work putting together the
Brontosaurus ''Brontosaurus'' (; meaning "thunder lizard" from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeas ...

Brontosaurus
skeleton, David, resigning himself to a future of chaos, embraces Susan.


Cast

*
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited ...
as Susan Vance *
Cary Grant Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach; January 18, 1904November 29, 1986) was an English-American actor. Known for his transatlantic accent The Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent, is a cultivated Accent (sociolinguistics), accent ...

Cary Grant
as Dr. David Huxley (alias Mr. Bone) *
May Robson Mary Jeanette Robison (19 April 1858 – 20 October 1942), known professionally as May Robson, was an Australian-born American-based actress whose career spanned 58 years, starting in 1883 when she was 25. A major stage actress of the late 19t ...
as Elizabeth Carlton Random, Susan's aunt *
Charles Ruggles Charles Sherman Ruggles (February 8, 1886 – December 23, 1970) was a comic American character actor A character actor is a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or Eccentricity (behavior), eccentric character (arts), characters.2 ...
as Major Horace Applegate, a big-game hunter *
Walter Catlett Walter Leland Catlett (February 4, 1889 – November 14, 1960) was an American actor and comedian. He made a career of playing excitable, meddlesome, temperamental, and officious blowhards. Career Catlett was born on February 4, 1889, in ...
as Constable Slocum *
Barry Fitzgerald William Joseph Shields (10 March 1888 – 14 January 1961), known professionally as Barry Fitzgerald, was an Irish stage, film and television actor. In a career spanning almost forty years, he appeared in such notable films as ''Bringing Up Ba ...

Barry Fitzgerald
as Aloysius Gogarty, Mrs. Random's gardener *
Fritz Feld Fritz Feld (October 15, 1900 – November 18, 1993) was a German-American film character actor who appeared in over 140 films in 72 years, both silent film, silent and synchronized sound, sound. His trademark was to slap his mouth with the palm ...
as Dr. Fritz Lehman, an affluent psychiatrist * Virginia Walker as Alice Swallow, David's fiancée * George Irving as Alexander Peabody, Mrs. Random's lawyer *
Leona Roberts Leona Roberts (born Leona Celinda Doty; July 26, 1879 – January 29, 1954) was an American stage and film actress. Life and career Roberts was born in a small village in Illinois. According to Find A Grave she was born in Monroe Twp, Ashtabula ...
as Hannah Gogarty, Aloysius' wife and Mrs. Random's servant *
Tala Birell Tala Birell (born Natalie Bierle; 10 September 1907 – 17 February 1958) was a Romanian-bornThe reference book ''Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins'' identifies Birell as a Polish-Austrian actress.A feature about Bire ...
as Mrs. Lehman, Dr. Lehman's wife * John Kelly as Elmer, Constable Slocum's assistant Uncredited * D'Arcy Corrigan as Professor LaTouche *
Billy Bevan Billy Bevan (born William Bevan Harris, 29 September 1887 – 26 November 1957) was an Australian-born vaudevillian, who became an American film actor. He appeared in 254 American films between 1916 and 1950. Career Bevan was born in the ...

Billy Bevan
as Tom, the barkeeper *
Billy Franey William Gerald Franey (June 23, 1889 – December 6, 1940) was an American film actor. Born in Chicago in 1889, Franey appeared in more than 400 films between 1914 and 1941, mostly playing comedic roles. He was an actor of disheveled appeara ...
as the butcher * Dick Lane as Circus manager *
Ward Bond Wardell Edwin Bond (April 9, 1903 – November 5, 1960) was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 200 films and starred in the NBC television series ''Wagon Train'' from 1957 to 1960. Among his best-remembered roles are Ber ...
as a motorcycle policeman *
Jack Carson John Elmer Carson (October 27, 1910 – January 2, 1963) was a Canadian-born, American film actor. Carson often played the role of comedic friend in films of the 1940s and 1950s, including ''The Strawberry Blonde ''The Strawberry Blonde'' ...
as a circus roustabout Animals *
SkippySkippy may refer to: * Skippy (nickname), a list of people and fictional characters * Skippy (peanut butter), an American brand Arts and entertainments * Skippy (comic strip), ''Skippy'' (comic strip), an American strip published from 1923 to ...
as George, Mrs. Random's dog * Nissa as Baby and the circus leopard


Production


Development and writing

In March 1937, Howard Hawks signed a contract at RKO for an adaptation of
Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( ; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)''The Times ''The Times'' is a British daily Daily or The Daily may refer to: Journalism * Daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical pub ...

Rudyard Kipling
's ''
Gunga Din "Gunga Din" is an 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling set in British Raj, British India. The poem is much remembered for its final line: "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din". Background The poem is a rhyming narrative from the point of view o ...
'', which had been in pre-production since the previous fall. When RKO was unable to borrow
Clark Gable William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901November 16, 1960) was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood". He had roles in more than 60 motion pictures in multiple genres during a career that lasted 37 years, three decades ...

Clark Gable
,
Spencer Tracy Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American actor, known for his natural performing style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy was the first actor to win two consecutive ...

Spencer Tracy
and
Franchot Tone Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone (February 27, 1905 – September 18, 1968) was an American actor, producer, and director of stage, film and television. He was a leading man in the 1930s and early 1940s, and at the height of his career was known ...
from
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is an American media company, founded in 1924, that produces and distributes feature films and television programs. It is based in Beverly Hills, California ...
for the film and the adaptation of ''Gunga Din'' was delayed, Hawks began looking for a new project. In April 1937, he read a short story by
Hagar Wilde Hagar Wilde (July 7, 1905 – September 25, 1971) was an American playwright and screenwriter in the late 1930s till the late 1950s. She is perhaps best known for the screenplays for ''Bringing Up Baby ''Bringing Up Baby'' is a 1938 Ame ...
in ''Collier's'' magazine called "Bringing Up Baby" and immediately wanted to make a film from it, remembering that it made him laugh out loud. RKO bought the screen rights in June for $1,004, and Hawks worked briefly with Wilde on the film's treatment. Wilde's short story differed significantly from the film: David and Susan are engaged, he is not a scientist and there is no dinosaur, intercostal clavicle or museum. However, Susan gets a pet panther from her brother Mark to give to their Aunt Elizabeth; David and Susan must capture the panther in the Connecticut wilderness with the help of Baby's favorite song, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby". Hawks then hired screenwriter
Dudley Nichols Dudley Nichols (April 6, 1895 – January 4, 1960) was an American screenwriter and film director. He was the first person to decline an Academy Award, as part of a boycott to gain recognition for the Screen Writers Guild; he would later accept ...
, best known for his work with director
John Ford John Martin Feeney (February 1, 1894 – August 31, 1973), known professionally as John Ford, was an American film director and naval officer. He is renowned both for Western (genre), Westerns such as ''Stagecoach (1939 film), Stagecoach'' (19 ...

John Ford
, for the script; Wilde would develop the characters and comedic elements of the script, while Nichols would take care of the story and structure. Hawks worked with the two writers during summer 1937, and they came up with a 202-page script. Wilde and Nichols wrote several drafts together, beginning a romantic relationship and co-authoring the
Fred Astaire Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz; May 10, 1899 – June 22, 1987) was an American actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, and television presenter. He is widely considered the greatest dancer in film history. His stage and subsequen ...
and
Ginger Rogers Ginger Rogers (born Virginia Katherine McMath; July 16, 1911 – April 25, 1995) was an American actress, dancer, and singer during the Golden Age#REDIRECT Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works ...

Ginger Rogers
film '' Carefree'' a few months later. The ''Bringing Up Baby'' script underwent several changes, and at one point there was an elaborate pie fight, inspired by
Mack Sennett Mack Sennett (born Michael Sinnott; January 17, 1880 – November 5, 1960) was a Canadian-American film actor, director, and producer, and studio head, known as the 'King of Comedy'. Born in Danville, Quebec, in 1880, he started in films in the ...

Mack Sennett
films. Major Applegate had an assistant and food taster named Ali (which was intended to be played by
Mischa Auer Mischa Auer (born Mikhail Semyonovich Unkovsky (Михаил Семёнович Унковский; 17 November 1905 – 5 March 1967) was a Russians, Russian-born American actor who moved to Hollywood in the late 1920s. He first appeared in fi ...
), but this character was replaced with Aloysius Gogarty. The script's final draft had several scenes in the middle of the film in which David and Susan declare their love for each other which Hawks cut during production. Nichols was instructed to write the film for Hepburn, with whom he had worked on John Ford's '' Mary of Scotland'' (1936). Barbara Leaming alleged that Ford had an affair with Hepburn, and claims that many of the characteristics of Susan and David were based on Hepburn and Ford. Nichols was in touch with Ford during the screenwriting, and the film included such members of the
John Ford Stock Company The John Ford Stock Company is the name given to the large collection of actors used repeatedly in the films of American director John Ford. Most famous among these was John Wayne, who appeared in twenty-four films and three television episodes for ...
as
Ward Bond Wardell Edwin Bond (April 9, 1903 – November 5, 1960) was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 200 films and starred in the NBC television series ''Wagon Train'' from 1957 to 1960. Among his best-remembered roles are Ber ...
,
Barry Fitzgerald William Joseph Shields (10 March 1888 – 14 January 1961), known professionally as Barry Fitzgerald, was an Irish stage, film and television actor. In a career spanning almost forty years, he appeared in such notable films as ''Bringing Up Ba ...

Barry Fitzgerald
, D'Arcy Corrigan and associate producer
Cliff Reid Cliff Reid (September 7, 1891 – August 22, 1959), also known as George Clifford Reid, was an American film producer and film production studio founder during the 1930s and 1940s. In addition he also directed film shorts, and was the assistant d ...
. John Ford was a friend of Hawks, and visited the set. The round glasses Grant wears in the film are reminiscent of Harold Lloyd and of Ford. Filming was initially scheduled to begin on September 1, 1937 and wrap on October 31, but was delayed for several reasons. Production had to wait until mid-September to clear the rights for "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" for $1,000. In August, Hawks hired gag writers Robert McGowan and
Gertrude Purcell Gertrude M. Purcell (June 14, 1895 – May 1, 1963) was an American screenwriter, playwright, and stage actress known for her work on films like ''The Invisible Woman (1940 film), The Invisible Woman'' and ''Destry Rides Again.'' Biography Ea ...
for uncredited script rewrites, and McGowan added a scene inspired by the comic strip '' Professor Dinglehoofer and his Dog'' in which a dog buries a rare dinosaur bone. RKO paid
King Features King Features Syndicate, Inc., is a print syndication Print syndication distributes news articles, column (periodical), columns, Editorial cartoon, political cartoons, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. The sy ...

King Features
$1,000 to use the idea for the film on September 21.


Unscripted ad-lib by Grant

It is debated by some whether ''Bringing Up Baby'' is the first fictional work (apart from
pornography Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of Human sexual activity, sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.
) to use the word ''
gay ''Gay'' is a term that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual. The term originally meant 'carefree', 'cheerful', or 'bright and showy'. While scant usage referring to male homosexuality Human male sexu ...

gay
'' in a
homosexual Homosexuality is romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of that era ** Romantic poetry, of that era ** R ...

homosexual
context. In one scene, Cary Grant's character is wearing a woman's marabou-trimmed négligée; when asked why, he replies exasperatedly "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!" (leaping into the air at the word ''gay''). As the term ''gay'' did not become familiar to the general public until the
Stonewall riots The Stonewall riots (also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT community, gay communityAt the time, the term ''gay'' was commonly used to refer to all LGB ...
in 1969, it is debated whether the word was used here in its original sense (meaning "happy") or is an intentional, joking reference to homosexuality. In the film, the line was an
ad-lib In music, biology, and drama, the phrase ''ad libitum'' (; from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around ...
by Grant and not in any version of the original script. According to
Vito Russo Vito Russo (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990) was an American LGBT ' is an initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered ...
in ''
The Celluloid Closet ''The Celluloid Closet'' is a 1995 American documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (filmmaker), Jeffrey Friedman. The film is based on Vito Russo's 1981 book ''The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies'', ...
'' (1981, revised 1987), the script originally had Grant's character say "I...I suppose you think it's odd, my wearing this. I realize it looks odd...I don't usually...I mean, I don't own one of these". Russo suggests that this indicates that people in
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
(at least in Grant's circles) were familiar with the slang connotations of the word; however, neither Grant nor anyone involved in the film suggested this. The 1933 film '' My Weakness'' had previously used the word "gay" as an overt descriptor of homosexuality; one of two men pining away for the same woman suddenly suggests a solution to their mutual problem: "Let's be gay!" However, the Studio Relations Committee censors decreed that the line was too risqué and had to be muffled. The film '' This Side of Heaven'' (1934) included a scene in which a fussy, gossipy interior decorator tries to sell a floral fabric pattern to a customer, who knowingly replies, "It strikes me as a bit too gay."


Casting

After briefly considering Hawks' cousin
Carole Lombard Carole Lombard (born Jane Alice Peters; October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942) was an American actress, particularly noted for her energetic, often off-beat roles in screwball comedies Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comed ...
for the role of Susan Vance, producers chose Katharine Hepburn to play the wealthy New Englander because of her background and similarities to the character. RKO agreed to the casting, but had reservations because of Hepburn's salary and lack of box-office success for several years. Producer Lou Lusty said, "You couldn't even break even if a Hepburn show cost eight hundred grand." At first, Hawks and producer Pandro S. Berman could not agree on whom to cast in the role of David Huxley. Hawks initially wanted silent-film comedian
Harold Lloyd Harold Clayton Lloyd Sr. (April 20, 1893 – March 8, 1971) was an American actor, comedian, and stunt performer who appeared in many Silent film, silent comedy films.Obituary ''Variety Obituaries, Variety'', March 10, 1971, page 55. Ll ...

Harold Lloyd
; Berman rejected Lloyd and
Ronald Colman Ronald Charles Colman (9 February 1891 – 19 May 1958) was an English-born actor, starting his career in theatre and silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of ...
, offering the role to
Robert MontgomeryRobert Montgomery or Bob Montgomery may refer to: Entertainment * Robert Montgomery (poet) (1807–1855), English poet and minister * Robert Montgomery (actor) (1904–1981), American actor and director * Robert Douglass Montgomery (1909–1966), A ...
,
Fredric March Fredric March (born Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel; August 31, 1897 – April 14, 1975) was an American actor, regarded as one of Hollywood's most celebrated, versatile stars of the 1930s and 1940s.Obituary ''Variety Variety may refer to: ...
and
Ray Milland Ray Milland (born Alfred Reginald Jones; 3 January 1907 – 10 March 1986) was a Welsh-American actor and film director. His screen career ran from 1929 to 1985, and he is best remembered for his Academy Awards, Academy Award-winning portra ...

Ray Milland
(all of whom turned it down). Hawks' friend
Howard Hughes Howard Robard Hughes Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and Philanthropy, philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most influential ...

Howard Hughes
finally suggested Cary Grant for the role. Grant had just finished shooting his breakthrough romantic comedy ''
The Awful Truth ''The Awful Truth'' is a 1937 American screwball comedy Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life Slice of life describes the dep ...
'' (1937), and Hawks may have seen a rough cut of the unreleased film. Grant then had a non-exclusive, four-picture deal with RKO for $50,000 per film, and Grant's manager used his casting in the film to renegotiate his contract, earning him $75,000 plus the bonuses Hepburn was receiving. Grant was initially concerned about being able to play an intellectual character and took two weeks to accept the role, despite the new contract. Hawks built Grant's confidence by promising to coach him throughout the film, instructing him to watch Harold Lloyd films for inspiration. Grant met with Howard Hughes throughout the film to discuss his character, which he said helped his performance. Hawks obtained character actors
Charlie Ruggles Charles Sherman Ruggles (February 8, 1886 – December 23, 1970) was a comic American character actor. In a career spanning six decades, Ruggles appeared in close to 100 feature films, often in mild-mannered and comic roles. He was also the el ...
on loan from
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation (common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric ...

Paramount Pictures
for Major Horace Applegate and Barry Fitzgerald on loan from
The Mary Pickford Corporation Gladys Marie Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress and producer with a career that spanned five decades. A pioneer in the American film industry, she co-founded Pickfo ...
to play gardener Aloysius Gogarty. Hawks cast Virginia Walker as Alice Swallow, David's fiancée; Walker was under contract to him and later married his brother William Hawks. As Hawks could not find a panther that would work for the film, Baby was changed to a leopard so they could cast the trained leopard Nissa, who had worked in films for eight years, making several B-movies.


Filming

Shooting began September 23, 1937, and was scheduled to end November 20, 1937, on a budget of $767,676. Filming began in-studio with the scenes in Susan's apartment, moving to the Bel Air Country Club in early October for the golf-course scenes. The production had a difficult start due to Hepburn's struggles with her character and her comedic abilities. She frequently overacted, trying too hard to be funny, and Hawks asked vaudeville veteran Walter Catlett to help coach her. Catlett acted out scenes with Grant for Hepburn, showing her that he was funnier when he was serious. Hepburn understood, acted naturally and played herself for the rest of the shoot; she was so impressed by Catlett's talent and coaching ability that she insisted he play Constable Slocum in the film. Most shooting was done at the Arthur Ranch in the San Fernando Valley, which was used as Aunt Elizabeth's estate for interior and exterior scenes. Beginning at the Arthur Ranch shoot, Grant and Hepburn often ad-libbed their dialogue and frequently delayed production by making each other laugh. The scene where Grant frantically asks Hepburn where his bone is was shot from 10 am until well after 4 pm because of the stars' laughing fits. After one month of shooting Hawks was seven days behind schedule. During the filming, Hawks would refer to four different versions of the film's script and make frequent changes to scenes and dialogue. His leisurely attitude on set and shutting down production to see a horse race contributed to the time it took to film, and he took twelve days to shoot the Westlake jail scene instead of the scheduled five. Hawks later facetiously blamed the setbacks on his two stars' laughing fits and having to work with two animal actors. The terrier George was played by Skippy, known as Asta in ''The Thin Man'' film series and co-starring with Grant (as Mr. Smith) in ''The Awful Truth''. The tame leopard Baby and the escaped circus leopard were both played by a trained leopard, Nissa. The big cat was supervised by its trainer, Olga Celeste, who stood by with a whip during shooting. At one point, when Hepburn spun around (causing her skirt to twirl) Nissa lunged at her and was subdued when Celeste cracked her whip. Hepburn wore heavy perfume to keep Nissa calm and was unafraid of the leopard, but Grant was terrified; most scenes of the two interacting are done in close-up with a stand-in. Hepburn played upon this fear by throwing a toy leopard through the roof of Grant's dressing room during production. There were also several news reports about Hawks' difficulty filming a live leopard and the potential danger to highly valuable actors, so some scenes required Rear projection effect, rear-screen projection,''Bringing Up Baby'' DVD. Special Features. Peter Bogdanovich Audio Commentary. Turner Home Entertainment. 2005. while several others were shot using Matte (filmmaking), traveling mattes. In a scene where Grant has Baby on a leash, it is quite obvious that the leash was hand painted on film because it proved impossible to make the two parts of the leash join in the traveling matte. Hawks and Hepburn had a confrontation one day during shooting. While Hepburn was chatting with a crew member, Hawks yelled "Quiet!" until the only person still talking was Hepburn. When Hepburn paused and realized that everyone was looking at her, she asked what was the matter; Hawks asked her if she was finished imitating a parrot. Hepburn took Hawks aside, telling him never to talk to her like that again since she was old friends with most of the crew. When Hawks (an older friend of the crew) asked a lighting tech who he would rather drop a light on, Hepburn agreed to behave on set. A variation of this scene, with Grant yelling "Quiet!", was incorporated into the film. The Westlake Street set was shot at 20th Century Fox Studios. Filming was eventually completed on January 6, 1938 with the scenes outside Mr. Peabody's house. RKO producers expressed concerns about the film's delays and expense, coming 40 days over schedule and $330,000 over budget, and also disliked Grant's glasses and Hepburn's hair. The film's final cost was $1,096,796.23, primarily due to overtime clauses in Hawks', Grant's and Hepburn's contracts. The film's cost for sets and props was only $5,000 over budget, but all actors (including Nissa and Skippy) were paid approximately double their initial salaries. Hepburn's salary rose from $72,500 to $121,680.50, Grant's salary from $75,000 to $123,437.50 and Hawks' salary from $88,046.25 to $202,500. The director received an additional $40,000 to terminate his RKO contract on March 21, 1938.


Post-production and previews

Hawks' editor, George Hively, cut the film during production and the final prints were made a few days after shooting ended. The first cut of the film (10,150 feet long) was sent to the Motion Picture Production Code, Hayes Office in mid-January. Despite several double entendres and sexual references it passed the film, overlooking Grant saying he "went gay" or Hepburn's reference to George urinating. The censor's only objections were to the scene where Hepburn's dress is torn, and references to politicians (such as Al Smith and Jim Farley). Like all Hawks' comedies, the film is known for its fast pace (despite being filmed primarily in long medium shots, with little cross-cutting). Hawks told Peter Bogdanovich, "You get more pace if you pace the actors quickly within the frame rather than cross cutting fast". By February 18, the film had been cut to 9,204 feet. It had two advance previews in January 1938, where it received either As or A-pluses on audience-feedback cards. Producer Pandro S. Berman wanted to cut five more minutes, but relented when Hawks, Grant and Cliff Reid objected. At the film's second preview, the film received rave reviews and RKO expected a hit. The film's musical score is minimal, primarily Grant and Hepburn singing "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby". There is incidental music in the Ritz scene, and an arrangement of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" during the opening and closing credits by musical director Roy Webb.


Reception


Critical response

The film received good advance reviews; Otis Ferguson of ''The New Republic'' thought the film very funny, praising Hawks' direction. ''Variety (magazine), Variety'' praised the film, singling out Hawks' pacing and direction, calling Hepburn's performance "one of her most invigorating screen characterizations" and saying Grant "performs his role to the hilt"; their only criticism was the length of the jail scene. ''Film Daily'' called it "literally a riot from beginning to end, with the laugh total heavy and the action fast." ''Harrison's Reports'' called the film "An excellent farce" with "many situations that provoke hearty laughter," and John Mosher (writer), John Mosher of ''The New Yorker'' wrote that both stars "manage to be funny" and that Hepburn had never "seemed so good-natured." However, Frank S. Nugent of ''The New York Times'' disliked the film, considering it derivative and cliché-ridden, a rehash of dozens of other screwball comedies of the period. He labeled Hepburn's performance "breathless, senseless, and terribly, terribly fatiguing", and added, "If you've never been to the movies, ''Bringing Up Baby'' will be new to you – a zany-ridden product of the goofy-farce school. But who hasn't been to the movies?" On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "With Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant at their effervescent best, ''Bringing Up Baby'' is a seamlessly assembled comedy with enduring appeal." On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 91 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".


Box office

Despite ''Bringing Up Baby''s reputation as a flop, it was successful in some parts of the U.S. The film premiered on February 16, 1938 at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco (where it was a hit), and was also successful in Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, Portland, Denver, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.. However, it was a financial disappointment in the Midwest, as well as most other cities in the country, including NYC; to RKO's chagrin, the film's premiere in New York City, New York on March 3, 1938 at Radio City Music Hall made only $70,000 and it was pulled after one week in favor of ''Jezebel (1938 film), Jezebel'' with Bette Davis. During its first run, ''Bringing Up Baby'' made $715,000 in the U.S. and $394,000 in foreign markets for a total of $1,109,000; its reissue in 1940 and 1941 made an additional $95,000 in the US and $55,000 in foreign markets. Following its second run, the film made a profit of $163,000. Due to its perceived failure, Hawks was released early from his two-film contract with RKO and ''Gunga Din (film), Gunga Din'' was eventually directed by George Stevens. Hawks later said the film "had a great fault and I learned an awful lot from that. There were ''no'' normal people in it. Everyone you met was a screwball and since that time I learned my lesson and don't intend ever again to make everybody crazy." The director went on to work with RKO on three films over the next decade. Long before ''Bringing Up Baby''s release, Hepburn had been branded "
box office poison ''Box Office Poison'' is a series of comic books A comic book, also called comic book, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics a medium Medium may refer to: S ...
" by Harry Brandt (president of the Independent Theatre Owners of America) and thus was allowed to buy out her RKO contract for $22,000. However, many critics marveled at her new skill at low comedy; Life magazine, ''Life'' magazine called her "the surprise of the picture". Hepburn's former boyfriend Howard Hughes bought RKO in 1948, and sold it in 1955; when he sold the company, Hughes retained the copyright to six films (including ''Bringing Up Baby'').


Legacy

''Bringing Up Baby'' was the second of four films starring Grant and Hepburn; the others were ''Sylvia Scarlett'' (1935), ''Holiday (1938 film), Holiday'' (1938) and ''
The Philadelphia Story''The Philadelphia Story'' could refer to: * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (play), a 1939 play * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (film), the 1940 film adaptation * ''The Philadelphia Story'' (1959 film), a TV film starring Gig Young *The Fresh Prince of ...
'' (1940). The film's concept was described by philosopher Stanley Cavell as a "definitive achievement in the history of the art of film." Cavell noted that ''Bringing Up Baby'' was made in a tradition of romantic comedy with inspiration from ancient Rome and Shakespeare. Shakespeare's ''Much Ado About Nothing'' and ''As You Like It'' have been cited in particular as influences on the film and the screwball comedy in general, with their "haughty, self-sufficient men, strong women and fierce combat of words and wit." Hepburn's character has been cited as an early example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl film archetype. The popularity of ''Bringing Up Baby'' has increased since it was shown on television during the 1950s, and by the 1960s film analysts (including the writers at ''Cahiers du Cinema'' in France) affirmed the film's quality. In a rebuttal of fellow ''New York Times'' critic Nugent's scathing review of the film at the time of release, A. O. Scott has said that you'll "find yourself amazed at its freshness, its vigor, and its brilliance-qualities undiminished after sixty-five years, and likely to withstand repeated viewings." Leonard Maltin stated that it is now "considered the definitive screwball comedy, and one of the fastest, funniest films ever made; grand performances by all." ''Bringing Up Baby'' has been adapted several times. Hawks recycled the nightclub scene in which Hepburn's dress is torn and Grant walks behind her in the comedy ''Man's Favorite Sport'' (1964). Peter Bogdanovich's film ''What's Up, Doc? (1972 film), What's Up, Doc?'' (1972), starring Barbra Streisand, was intended as an homage to the film, and has contributed to its reputation. In the commentary track for ''Bringing Up Baby'', Bogdanovich discusses how the coat-ripping scene in ''What's Up, Doc?'' was based on the scene in which Grant's coat and Hepburn's dress are torn in ''Bringing Up Baby''. The film ''Who's That Girl? (1987 film), Who's That Girl?'' (1987), starring Madonna (entertainer), Madonna, is also loosely based on ''Bringing Up Baby''. In 1990 (the registry's second year), ''Bringing Up Baby'' was selected for preservation in the
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
of the
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Library of Congress
as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". ''Entertainment Weekly'' voted the film 24th on its list of greatest films. In 2000, readers of ''Total Film'' magazine voted it the 47th-greatest comedy film of all time. ''Premiere (magazine), Premiere'' ranked Cary Grant's performance as Dr. David Huxley 68th on its list of 100 all-time greatest performances, and ranked Susan Vance 21st on its list of 100 all-time greatest movie characters. The National Society of Film Critics also included ''Bringing Up Baby'' in their "100 Essential Films", considering it to be arguably the director's best film. The film is recognized by
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applyin ...
in these lists: * 1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #97 * 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #14 * 2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #51 * 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes: ** Dr. David Huxley: "It isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you; but, well, there haven't been any quiet moments!" – Nominated * 2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #88 * 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10: ** Nominated Romantic Comedy Film


References

Informational notes Citations Bibliography * * * * * * * * * * * Further reading *


External links

*''Bringing up Baby'' essay by Michael Schlesinger on the National Film Registry site

*''Bringing up Baby'' essay by Daniel Eagan in America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, A&C Black, 2010 , pages 273-27

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Pauline Kael analysis





''Bringing Up Baby''
on Theater of Romance: July 24, 1945 {{Authority control 1930s screwball comedy films 1938 films 1938 romantic comedy films American black-and-white films American films American romantic comedy films American screwball comedy films Comedy of remarriage films English-language films Films about animals Films about cats Films based on short fiction Films based on works by Hagar Wilde Films directed by Howard Hawks Films produced by Cliff Reid Films set in Connecticut Films shot in California Films shot in Los Angeles Films with screenplays by Dudley Nichols RKO Pictures films United States National Film Registry films