Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Favorite Movie

Since this is the start of my long birthday weekend, I thought I'd talk about something I've never posted before - my favorite movie of all time, Bringing Up Baby. This 1938 Howard Hawks classic was a massive bomb when it was first released. Apparently, America wasn't quite ready for absurd comedy in 1938. Since then it has been recognized as one of Hawks' best films and an exemplar of the 30's "Screwball Comedies." These films often starred hot Hollywood stars and centered around improbable characters caught up in improbable situations. usually ending in romance.
For many years, I tried composing a list of my Top Ten Movies of All Time, an ultimately fultile task, as I love many different movies at any given time. I did, however, notice one constant. No matter how many lists I made, Bringing Up Baby was on every single one of them (albeit, in various positions), leading me to the obvious conclusion that it was my favorite movie.
Bringing Up Baby stars the incomparable Katherine Hepburn as Susan Vance, a zany Connecticut heiress smitten with archaeologist David Huxley (a very sexy Cary Grant). Despite the fact that David is engaged, Susan decides he is the man for her and pursues him with proto-feminist zeal. The poor befuddled sap that he is, David ends up following Susan to her aunt's Connecticut estate, where Susan's aunt's dog promptly steals the fossilized bone David needs to complete the skeleton of the dinosaur he is currently building for the museum for which he works. Much mayhem ensues:

Add to this madcap situation a Brazlian leopard named 'Baby;' a vicious leopard which has escaped from the circus; a daft psychiatrist; a looney big-game hunter; an over-zealous Police Chief and a rich dowager, and you have a near-perfect comedy. In one of the movie's funniest scenes, Susan has managed to get David's clothes off and left him with no choice but to wear a frilly peignor, prompting Grant to utter one of Queer Cinema's most infamous and ironic lines: "I've gone gay, all of a sudden!"

Only later, as almost everyone has been arrested (long story) or at least gathered at the local police station, do they realize there are actually two leopards in play:

Baby features hilarious performances from character actors Charles Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald and May Robson along with its outrageous plot, snappy dialogue, ridiculous slapstick and then state-of-the-art special effects. It also nearly ruined Hepburn's career.
As I still try to convince my dear D that Rocky is NOT the best movie ever, I must admit that Bringing Up Baby is not, as well (I won't even go there - for now). But it's my favorite, and while it isn't perect by any means, it always manages to make me laugh, no matter how many times I've seen it.
More from the soon-to-be Birthday Boy, anon.


Stephen said...

Happy Birthday to you!
Good choice for fave movie. I love it & I love What's Up Doc?.
I hope it is a swell weekend & that you get treated right all weekend.
It has been nice getting to know you.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!!

Prospero said...

Thank you, both!

Prospero said...

Stephen - "What's Up Doc" is my favorite modern version of the Screwball Comedy, Ryan is so ot and Madeline steals teh film!