#88 Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Amazon.com essential video
"The love impulse in man," says a psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby, "frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict." That's for sure. For a primer on the rules and regulations of the classic screwball comedy, which throws love and conflict into close proximity, look no further. A straight-laced paleontologist (Cary Grant) loses a dinosaur bone to a dog belonging to free-spirited heiress Katharine Hepburn. In trying to retrieve said bone, Grant is drawn into the vortex surrounding the delicious Hepburn, which becomes a flirtatious pas de deux that will transform both of them. Director Howard Hawks plays the complications as a breathless escalation of their "love impulse," yet the movie is nonetheless romantic for all its speed. (Hawks's His Girl Friday, also with Grant, goes even faster.) Grant and Hepburn are a match made in movie heaven, in sync with each other throughout. Not a great box-office success when first released, Bringing Up Baby has since taken its place as a high-water mark of the screwball form, and it was used as a model for Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc? --Robert Horton

DVD features
For its DVD debut, this Howard Hawks comedy looks far better than any 67-year-old film should. The print doesn't dazzle like Warner's usual Ultra-Resolution process (Singin' in the Rain) but has better contrast and crispness than previous VHS versions. Peter Bogdanovich provides the commentary track. The director has done several of these, but he's more inspired here, probably due to his excellent remake of Baby (What's Up, Doc?) and his past interviews with Hawks. Bogdanovich does something we haven't heard in a commentary: imitating the director answering questions about the film. It works since his impression is pretty darn good. The second disc provides a short and a cartoon from 1938 plus two made-for-cable documentaries. The newer one on Cary Grant delivers a comprehensive look at the great star; the older one is an episode from critic Richard Schickel's outstanding series The Men Who Made the Movies. This retrospective has plenty on the director, and should play well for casual fan and aficionado alike. --Doug Thomas

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