Bringing Up Baby (1938)
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Really struggled with this film. I can see the appeal, the manic energy of it and the zaniness of how the story escalates, the amazing outfits, cars, houses and aesthetics, but GOD this is an irritating film. Firstly, why is Cary Grant's character at all appealing? I can see why Grant himself is, especially when he has an implausibly well paying job at which is he is terrible, why these women throw themselves at him is also something I couldn't get behind. Why have the world's most irritating dog bark all through a scene? How is constant yapping anything other than annoying? I get that its illustrating he inanity of everything else in that scene but how about not having that dog at all? Or that scene at all? Everyone in this film is frustrating, it's assumed that we can get on board with their relentless smugness and that the premise of Baby doesn't get old, which it does very quickly. The leading characters' arrogance, wanton waste of money, privilege and time was just too daft to begin with let alone built a story on. So much extraordinary talent was involved with this film, and I'm glad so many people can get something out of it and find it hilarious, but, unlike most screwballs, this was phenomenally irritating from beginning to end.
Hard to enjoy this comedy; Susan (Hepburn's character) is just too much of an unbearable asshole, provoking anger and frustration rather than amusement. The way she is evil on purpose, is knowlingy breaking laws and endangering others, stealing whatever she wants, destroying property without hesitation or regret, blackmailing people for her own gain, constantly lying and insulting everyone around her makes you wish for bad things to happen to her rather than allow for the creation of a single funny moment in this movie.
I knew going in that Bringing Up Baby was the screwball comedy to end all screwball comedies, but I didn't expect "Baby" to be a rowdy pet leopard. That's just a crazy cherry on top of a mad sundae. Katharine Hepburn is completely loopy in this, a fast-talking gal who mishears/sees everything, seems to make her thinking on a completely different track from the rest of us, and makes up stories about as easily as Bugs Bunny. I've heard it said people find her annoying, but I find it pretty amusing myself. She sets her sights on Cary Grant early on as a man she wants to marry - he's a paleontologist who is immensely frustrated by her mere presence, chaos to his dull order - and through a series of insane misunderstandings, some of them caused by leopards and dogs, I guess they'll just have to end up together. Pure lunacy from director Howard Hawks that was apparently before its time, full of verbal and physical comedy. I'm a bit sick of Cary Grant's annoyed persona at this point (he's always on the verge of hitting a woman in these things, which really doesn't play well), but Hepburn is completely unlike anything else I've seen her in, a mad and intoxicating free spirit.
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In 22 official lists
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This movie ranks #13 in Paste's The 100 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time
This movie ranks #14 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs
This movie ranks #15 in Quentin Tarantino's Coolest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #17 in BBC's The 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time
This movie ranks #27 in IMDb's 1930s Top 50
This movie ranks #33 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #43 in Time Out's The 100 Best Romantic Films
This movie ranks #44 in Geoff King's Film Comedy
This movie ranks #49 in IMDb's Family Top 50
This movie ranks #51 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
This movie ranks #57 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #88 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
This movie ranks #117 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #122 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #125 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #127 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #129 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #139 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #159 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #204 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #263 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #381 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies