‘ Screwball’ comedies were a popular staple in 1930s Hollywood. The term ‘Screwball’ comes from a pitch in baseball designed to confuse the batter.
And ‘having a screw loose’ seems appropriate for a lot of screwball comedies – etc eccentric households, fast, farcical situations, lots of gags. Logic goes out the window.
One I love is “Bringing Up Baby”.
Cary Grant plays ‘David Huxley’, a professor of anthropology who has three missions in life – to complete the skeleton of a giant brontosaurus; to marry his secretary,’Miss Swallow’ :and to persuade ‘Mrs. Carlton-Random’ , a rich socialite , to donate a million dollars to his museum.
All his plans are scuppered when he runs into madcap socialite’ Susan Vance’ (Katharine Hepburn) whose brother ‘Mark’ in Brazil has sent her a pet leopard nicknamed ‘Baby’.
David doesn’t complete the skeleton and doesn’t marry his secretary, but he does get the million dollars, and Susan.
“Baby” is one of the few classic films I’ve seen on the big screen , and I remember the audience applause both during and after the film.
Let’s all join in – “I cant give you anything but love, baby.”
Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn , with an assist from ‘George’ ( played by ‘Asta’.)
“That’s the only thing I’ve plenty of, baby.”
( With a bit of harmony from Cary)
That terrific song is by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. It was first sung by Bert Lahr and Patsy Kelly in a Broadway show of 1927, “Delmar’s Revels.” But it became a hit when it was re-used in the “Blackbirds of 1928” revue.
It has been recorded hundreds of times by vocalists such as Adelaide Hall, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Ethel Waters, Dean Martin.
That tears it.
And a great supporting cast.
Gogarty, the handyman, hadn’t a clue what’s going on – he’s just seen a giant cat!
Fritz is , as usual , very funny as the psychologist who tries to reassure Kate there really isn’t a leopard on the loose.
Walter Catlett is the cop who thinks he’s snared a big time gang led by ‘Swingin’ Door Susie’.
The new blu-Ray came out on July 6th,2021.
- Stunt woman Helen Thurston recalled, “My first picture was “Bringing Up Baby”. I doubled for Katharine Hepburn, working with the panther and taking a tumble down a hill. Then I took a big fall from the dinosaur. That’s what started me off.”
(Helen doubled for Marilyn Monroe in “River of No Return” and also did stunts in “Perils of Nyoka “ and “Jungle Girl”.)
’Neisa’, the Indian leopard and her trainer Olga Celeste.
That’s for real! A lot of the press said Kate was braver with Baby than Cary.
If only colour had been more available in the 30s.