By: Nick Lehner 
-February 3, 2020 1:00 am EDT-

Bringing up Baby | Cary Grant's Perfect Fiasco

A Star of the Golden Age

Critic David Thomson once posed the question, “How can anyone be Cary Grant? But how can anyone, ever after, not consider the attempt?”. The golden age of Hollywood overflowed with iconic names to remember. From Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart to Orson Welles and Ginger Rogers. Yet, no list would be complete without Cary Grant’s name near if not at the top.

 

Throughout is career Grant’s smooth demeanor, and effortless comedic ability set him apart from his peers time and time again. A personality of the ages that began its rise in Hollywood in 1937 with the box office hit ‘The Awful Truth’. It was in this film that Grant would prove himself as leading man. Following its success he was then offered the leading role in the now classic ‘Bringing up Baby’.

Success to Flop

Critic David Thomson once posed the question, “How can anyone be Cary Grant? But how can anyone, ever after, not consider the attempt?”. The golden age of Hollywood overflowed with iconic names to remember. From Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart to Orson Welles and Ginger Rogers. Yet, no list would be complete without Cary Grant’s name near if not at the top.

 

Throughout is career Grant’s smooth demeanor, and effortless comedic ability set him apart from his peers time and time again. A personality of the ages that began its rise in Hollywood in 1937 with the box office hit ‘The Awful Truth’. It was in this film that Grant would prove himself as leading man. Following its success he was then offered the leading role in the now classic ‘Bringing up Baby’.

Grant's Bringing up Baby

That leading man was paleontologist Doctor David Huxley. The story begins with David finally finding the final bone needed to complete his brontosaurus. This occurs only a few days before his wedding to the efficient, all be it affection-less, Ms. Swallow. Things seem to be going David’s way. 

 

A fateful golf game and run in with the boisterous Susan Vane played by Katherine Hepburn changes that. The peaceful golf course turns to mayhem after which things only escalate. Susan whisks David away on an adventure of ridiculous proportions. The two find themselves taking care of a pet leopard named Baby. David’s brontosaurus bone goes missing, the culprit a mischievous dog. Susan’s leopard follows suite vanishing shortly after. Cars seem to be getting stolen left and right, one leopard suddenly becomes two, and that bone is still nowhere to be found. 

 

Katherine Hepburn debuted her comedic chops in ‘Bringing up Baby’ alongside her comedic counterpart Grant. Following the films flop upon release Hepburn was given the title ‘box office poison’. Regardless of the negative audience response to the film, a mere four months later the pair appeared together once more in the film ‘Holiday’. This time around was marked a success by critics, seemingly breaking Hepburn’s box office reputation. Grant and Hepburn found themselves flying off into Hollywood history together.

Reviewing a Masterpiece

‘Bringing up Baby’ is a film of the ages. Between Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The quick exchanges and sarcasm drenched conversations. Audiences can’t help but feel drawn into the fiasco unfolding before them. Box office flop or not, ‘Bringing up Baby’ was crucial for both Grant and Hepburn. Both actors were at a mid-point in their careers. 

 

Katherine Hepburn would go on to star in many more comedies and cement herself as an icon of the golden age of Hollywood. As for Cary Grant, the actors fears of never reaching stardom were alleviated following ‘Bringing up Baby’. He was cast in multiple hits, ‘Only Angels Have Wings’, ‘His Girl Friday’ and the pinnacle of the actors career, ‘North By Northwest’.

 

The film ‘Bringing up Baby itself? Coming out of The Great Depression audience tended to fluctuated lacking consistency in what they wanted. No one can be sure why the film never gained the recognition it deserved upon release. Regardless, time amended that wrong. The film would go on to be ranked among the top 100 movies of all time going down as some of the best work Grant and Hepburn ever did together.         

Video published by vondobona Awstiue all rights reserved

The scene in which Hepburn's dress is ripped was inspire by something that happened to Cary Grant. He was at the 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 the story to Hawks, the director loved it so much he put it in the film.

Video published by Movieclips all rights reserved

Katherine Hepburn was generally fearless around the leopard Nissa, who played baby. Reportedly the actress even enjoyed petting it. Her co star Cary Grant was much less fond of Nissa however and a double was used in the scenes where his character and the leopard had to make contact.

Video published by Movieclips all rights reserved

The final shooting script for Bringing up Baby was apparently 202 pages long, which comes out to a run time of roughly 3 and a half hours. How much of that was shot is unknown given the actual films length being slightly under 2 hours

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