Summer Under the Stars Blogathon: Bringing Up Baby (1938)

This post is a contribution to the Summer Under the Stars blogathon being hosted all month by Jill at Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence and Michael at Scribehard on Film. Please be sure to visit their sites and check out all the great entries submitted so far! Today, Turner Classic Movies will be airing Katharine Hepburn movies all day, including the movie I am discussing here, Bringing Up Baby (1938).



Are you ever hesitant or even a bit embarrassed to admit that you don’t like a classic movie that just about every classic film fan on the planet seems to love?

I know we all have different tastes and shouldn’t have to apologize for our honest thoughts and feelings about a movie, but when discussing popular classic movies, I usually keep it pretty quiet that I’m not a huge fan of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and a few other movies that are loved by so many in the classic film community.

An example of one of those other movies is the classic screwball comedy, Bringing Up Baby (1938) starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I’ve told the story a few times about how The Philadelphia Story (1940), also starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, was instrumental in me becoming a classic film fan. I loved both of their performances in that movie, and also really enjoyed another comedy they starred in together, Holiday (1938).

So when I watched Bringing Up Baby a short time later, I was a bit surprised that I didn’t really like it that much. I was also very surprised to find out that so many classic movie fans love it, list it as one of their favorite movies of all time, and even consider it one of, if not the funniest movie ever made. Ever since then I’ve been meaning to watch it again to try to find out what I was missing, and I finally did this week for the blogathon.

I was so sure that things would be different this time since my tastes have evolved quite a bit since I first started watching classic movies close to two decades ago. I mean, I didn’t really like film noir back then either, and now I absolutely love it! What was I thinking?! :-)

Unfortunately, while I definitely liked the movie better this time and was able to appreciate more aspects of it, I can’t say that my opinion of it has changed very much. I really, really wanted to like it more than I did, but I think it’s safe to say it probably won’t ever appear on my list of favorite movies.

But because TCM’s Summer Under the Stars is such a special and fun event, I didn’t want to focus entirely on the negative but instead wanted to highlight some of these things that I did enjoy and appreciate about the movie:

  • My favorite thing in the movie had to be Susan’s farm house in Westlake, Connecticut! Even though I know it was only a set, it is the type of house I would definitely love to live in. You can see a lot more great pictures of the house in a post written by Julia at one of my favorite blogs, Hooked on Houses.
  • Being the total sports nut that I am, I enjoyed watching the scene where Katharine Hepburn was playing golf, a sport she enjoyed playing and was very good at in real life. One of these days I intend on writing a post about golf and tennis scenes found in classic film.
  • The animals were so cute! :-) Baby, the leopard and George, the dog stole many of the scenes in my opinion. The dog who played George was the same one who played Asta in the popular Thin Man series.
  • The chemistry between Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn was great as usual. It is obvious that the two of them really enjoyed working together, and they made such a natural team.
  • While I didn’t find a lot of the scenes in the movie as funny as most people do, I did laugh during the scene where David rips Susan’s dress and then walks behind her on the way out of the restaurant. This is a great example of the chemistry I just mentioned and how enjoyable it was to watch the two together.
  • I loved Cary Grant in glasses. :-) I think it was cool that Howard Hawks modeled Grant’s character after silent film star Harold Lloyd who often wore similar glasses.

Even though Bringing Up Baby will most likely never be one of my favorites, I can certainly understand why so many people love it. Maybe with repeated viewings, I will someday come to love it, too. :-)

If you’ve seen Bringing Up Baby, how did you like it? Are there any classic movies that you know are loved by many but that you just don’t care for?

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  1. Karen says:

    Hi, Ginny!

    Loved your post — especially your sharing that your subsequent viewing didn’t result in your falling in love with Bringing Up Baby. That’s what I thought you were going to say, so it was kind of a noirish little twist! (LOL) I liked reading the positives that you were able to find in the movie which, incidentally, I enjoy more every time I see it — I think it’s witty and funny, and I think that Cary Grant is a positive hoot throughout. I can think of two movies that seem to be universally loved — Arsenic and Old Lace, and Black Narcissus — to date, and after several attempts, I’ve still been unable to watch more than 15 minutes of either of these!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks Karen! I’d like to watch it at least one more time to see if it grows on me even more, especially since next time I won’t be distracted by thinking about what I’m going to say in my blog post. :-) I didn’t care for Arsenic and Old Lace either!

  2. I must admit it took me a few viewings to warm up to this movie. One of the reasons is the reason director Howard Hawks always attributed to the movie being a flop when it was released; the fact there are no “normal” characters in the movie, and that turned me off when I was much younger. Also, there’s something about Hawks’ comedies in general that seemed, at least to me, a little strenuous at first, even such classics as “Twentieth Century” and “His Girl Friday” (“Ball of Fire” is the only out-and-out comedy of Hawks’ that I fell in love with on first viewing; not coincidentally, it’s also the most gentle in tone and pace). I always found Hawks’ brand of comedy worked better when it was combined with other genres, as in wartime movies (“Sergeant York”, “Air Force” and “To Have and Have Not”), hard-boiled detective stories (“The Big Sleep”), Westerns (“Red River”, “Rio Bravo” and “El Dorado”), and even sci-fi (“The Thing from Another World”) and gangster movies (“Scarface”). Having said that, “Bringing Up Baby” did improve for me upon a few re-watches (as did, for that matter, “Twentieth Century” and “His Girl Friday”; I also still love “Ball of Fire”), and while I don’t revere it as much as others, I can see the humor in it now. Anyway, great write-up.

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks for the comment Sean! I think the first reason you mentioned had a lot to do with why I didn’t like it at all the first time. I guess if a movie is too “slapstick” or “screwball” it’s a little too much comedy for me, if that makes any sense. I’m very sensitive to certain kinds of noise so I think scenes like the one in the jail where there was a lot of yelling and screaming just overwhelm me and it’s hard for me to find them funny. Oddly enough, I totally loved His Girl Friday (it’s actually one of my favorite movies) and another one of Grant’s comedies, The Awful Truth, but didn’t care that much for Ball of Fire. I definitely want to give that one another try, too since I’ve become such a big fan of Barbara Stanwyck in the years since I last watched it.

  3. I love this idea for a blog post…maybe I’ll steal it from you. I’m the same way about some films. Even though I almost always am GUSHING over this film or the other, it’s because I’m not going to shout what I think is a minority opinion from the mountaintops for fear of upsetting someone.

    Anyhow, great write up!

    • Ginny says:

      Thanks Joel! Be my guest on using the idea. :-) I was always afraid of offending or upsetting people too, but I’m going to try to be more brave in revealing my opinions from now on. I think there’s always going to be someone who feels the same, but you just never know until you put it out there.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. […] Ginny with Old Movies Nostalgia reviews Kate and Cary in Bringing Up Baby! […]

  5. John says:

    I must admit I only made it through half of Bringing Up Baby but I think I was a bit distracted when watching the film a couple of years ago. I just didn’t connect with this film at all. I guess what makes a classic film for some doesn’t necessarily make it a classic for another person. I am a big Cary Grant fan but just didn’t like this movie.

    Other films that others consider classics I just never enjoyed much include Citizen Kane and The Big Sleep. Can somebody actually tell me what was going on in The Big Sleep? I think all the other Bogey/Bacalls are much better than this one. Yet this film gets all the hype.

    I am usually a big war film fan but watching The Great Escape recently I found it a bit boring and drawn out. I was hoping it would get better but it didn’t for me.

    It is funny, sometimes I will stick with a film that drags in the beginning because I might be rewarded in the end. That is what happened to me when viewing Kings Row awhile back. I was finding it a bit hard to follow it in the beginning. I am sure glad I didn’t hit the stop button because the second half of the film I became engrossed and was rewarded with one of the best movie endings ever in my opinion. Heartfelt, tension building and emotional film. Definitely Ronald Reagan’s best performance ever to me. To think I almost missed it.

    Well I guess different strokes for different folks when it comes to people’s opinions on any film. Interesting subject!

    • Ginny says:

      Hi John! Yeah, I guess if everyone felt the same about every movie, it would make for less interesting discussions. I’m glad you stuck with King’s Row. I really enjoyed that movie. I often wonder if I’m missing out on something when I stop watching a movie I can’t get into. I always say I’m going to try again someday but usually never do.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. Thanks for sticking to the positive when reviewing a movie you don’t like – it’s much more pleasant to read than if you were just bashing the film. Although BUB is one of my all-time favorites, I’ve found that when I’ve shared it with friends, they don’t respond the same way I did. I think it’s because it’s just too fast and crazy and Susan just stresses them out. I think that might be why after a few viewing, after you know that “everything’s going to be ALL right,” you can sit back and enjoy the craziness. But that’s just my theory. Thanks for the great post!

  7. […] my all time favorites, but as I discussed in a post last year I can’t quite say the same for Bringing Up Baby (1938). So I was interested to see how this movie would tip the scales, and I’m happy to say […]

  8. […] an almost universally loved classic comedy for a blogathon, but much like the time I wrote about Bringing Up Baby (1938) for a TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon a few years ago, I feel like I need to hang my […]