Tuesday, November 30, 2010
BRINGING UP BABY
(February 1938, U.S.)
In discussing a film like BRINGING UP BABY, I'd like to attempt to offer some cinematic education for today's younger generation who are (unfortunately) being raised on completely mindless comedies from idiots like Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Jack Black. What I'd like to offer is the consideration that great screwball comedies can be more than seventy years old, that great comedy can be black and white, and that great comedy can be absolutely classic! BRINGING UP BABY is not just a funny movie; it is, in my opinion, one of the greatest comedies ever made.
You've probably heard the movie tag expression "rollercoaster ride" or "the ride of your life" as it's usually associated with action films. Well, watching this film is in itself a rollercoaster ride of fun and laughs, but it's one that you have to hold onto and follow closely because the spontaneous dialogue comes fast and furious and if you don't pay attention to every word and every gesture, you can miss out on so much. This is primarily a dialogue-driven film, but the physical gags and pitfalls manage to come through at the right moment with precise timing.
As I previously mentioned in my post for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944), nobody could play the confused, bewildered, surprised and shocked mild-mannered everyday man like Cary Grant. This film may be his best example of such talent. Katherine Hepburn, for all of her serious work in films like THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) proves she could be an irresistable screwball, too. The plot of the film, which depicts the ordinary man unwillingly caught up in a series of outrageous misfortunes which he cannot control because of a ditzy woman he will inevitably fall in love with, has been copied over time and time again in films like WHAT'S UP, DOC (1972), BROADWAY DANNY ROSE (1984) and even one of Madonna many bad films, WHO'S THAT GIRL (1987). Of course, BRINGING UP BABY has the added attraction of an adorable leopard, too.
A quick word about director Howard Hawks, and that is you have to admire a film director who was so versatile in being able to not only direct screwball comedies, but gangster, film noir, westerns, and science fictions films, as well. Look up his filmography and you'll see what I mean.
Favorite line or dialogue:
David Huxley (answers the door wearing a woman's bathrobe): "What do you want?"
Elizabeth Random: "Well, who are YOU?"
David: "Who are YOU?"
Elizabeth: "Well, who are YOU?"
David: "What do you WANT?"
Elizabeth: "Well, WHO are you?"
David: "I don't know. I'm not quite myself today."
Elizabeth: "Well, you look perfectly idiotic in those clothes!"
David: "These aren't MY clothes!"
Elizabeth: "Well, where ARE you clothes?"
David: "I've LOST my clothes!"
Elizabeth: "Well, why are you wearing THESE clothes?"
David (jumps up): "Because I just went GAY all of a sudden!"