Friday, January 26, 2007

BRINGING UP BABY (RKO 1938) Warner Home Video

Bringing Up Baby(1938) is the advantageous screwball comedy about madcap New England heiress, Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) who, after accidentally running into stuffy zoologist, David Huxley (Cary Grant) is determined to land him as her husband. Not that David would notice. He's too concerned with acquiring a bone for his museum collection. But a gregarious little terrier named George (actually Asta from The Thin Man series) intervenes in David's plans, burying the irreplaceable fossil somewhere on Sue's country estate.

Meanwhile a case of mistaken identity Susan to presume that her leopard, Baby is threatening to tear up the scenery, as leopard's will do, after escaping from her cage. Naturally the whole mess winds up in front of the local magistrate, who lacks the ability to put two ideas together and come up with one coherent thought.

The supporting cast is a who's who of crazies, including Charles Ruggles as Major Applegate, a pompous big game hunter, May Robson as Sue's dotty rich aunt, Elizabeth Random, and Barry Fitzgerald as the congenial scatterbrain, Mr. Gogarty.

Director, Howard Hawks infuses his artistic milieu with every screwball gag in the book - and a few never seen – eliciting the overwhelming and riotous laugh a minute that has made "Baby" one of the unique highlights in film comedy history. Not that anyone knew it at the time.
On the contrary, Bringing Up Baby was widely panned by the critics and did only modest box office on its initial release. But hey, what did they know? Time has proven that "Baby" is the one to beat; a high water mark of comedic prowess that only the likes of someone like Preston Sturges could hope to match.

Warner's 2-disc special edition is a welcomed treat for DVD-philes. The black and white image is astoundingly solid. The gray scale has been impeccably mastered from very clean film elements. Contrast levels are superb. There's a hint of edge enhancement now and then, but nothing that will distract. Fine details are fully realized. Film grain is kept to a bare minimum.

Aside from the commentary track by Peter Bogdanovich, disc 2 of this DVD contains two feature length documentaries; one on Howard Hawks, the other on Cary Grant. The Grant biography is feature length and extremely compelling. There's also a couple of vintage short subjects and a gallery of trailers from other Howard Hawk's films. Very nice and highly recommended.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



1 comment:

David M. said...

The name "David" is spoken 192 times in "Bringing Up Baby". I believe that this is a record.