Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby is one of those films that could be the standard-bearer for the concept of standing the test of time.

Now 83 years young, it has survived by happenstance and not planning, and arrives from Criterion via Warner Bros.’ RKO library.

And for those unfamiliar with its myriad of pleasures, stands as a beacon that makes most new films appear as just so much manufactured garbage.

Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, a brilliant screenplay all come together toward a perfect film.

Original elements have been gone for decades, and we’ve been treated to soft, contrasty dupes, but the powers that be have scanned the universe and returned with imagery that while far from original, still allows a representation of what the film once was, albeit with contemporary properly characteristic grain.

Audio is fine.

One of my top 25 films, and as remarkable and entertaining on the 25th viewing as the first.

Should there be anyone out there unfamiliar with Bringing Up Baby, I’m extremely jealous of the pleasure to be received going in cold.

Image – 3.25

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD and earlier Blu-ray – Yes

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
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Josh Steinberg

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Should there be anyone out there unfamiliar with Bringing Up Baby, I’m extremely jealous of the pleasure to be received going in cold.

What’s funny about that for me is that my initial reaction was on par with the contemporary response from critics and the public - I didn’t love it. But it has grown on me tremendously in the two decades or so that have passed since my initial viewing, and my opinion has improved in much the way the critics and public have grown to embrace the film.
 

JoshZ

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Years ago, a co-worker at my office knew me as a "movie guy" and asked me for a recommendation on a classic film to watch. She was young (mid-20s), completely ignorant of pop culture older than 1980, and admitted to me that she had always been averse to anything black-and-white. But she wanted to broaden her horizons and said she was open to trying something different.

Fearing that Citizen Kane would be a bit heavy as a starting point, I suggested Bringing Up Baby. How could anyone not love this film, I thought? It's breezy and hilarious and a pure delight. It seemed to me like the perfect gateway drug to accessing classic movies.

Well, she came back the next day and sadly reported that she absolutely HATED IT. Didn't like anything about it. Thought it was torture to watch. The crux of it seemed to be that she simply loathed Katharine Hepburn's character. "People don't talk like that! What even was that?" I recall her asking.

That was a long time ago and I can't even remember the girl's name anymore. I don't imagine that she ever gave other classic movies much of a shot after that.
 

titch

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The problem of going in cold to a zany, lightening-paced, screwball comedy from 1938, is that modern audiences don't necessarily react to the humour the way a savvy audience did 80 years ago. Especially if you tell the people gathered that what they're about to watch is a hilarious masterpiece of classic Hollywood filming. I initially found it difficult to tolerate the well-meaning but tactless Hepburn causing Grant problems. Same thing happens with Duck Soup, or even with classic dramas, such as Citizen Kane and Vertigo - you tell anyone who's never seen them that they are going to see the greatest films ever made, they will look at you unimpressed afterwards and say, "Really?". The only film I can always use to introduce people to classic Hollywood comedy, which never fails to please, is Some Like It Hot. But Bringing Up Baby really grows on repeat viewings and I'm looking forward to finally having a copy to own in my library.
 

Robin9

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Well, she came back the next day and sadly reported that she absolutely HATED IT. Didn't like anything about it. Thought it was torture to watch. The crux of it seemed to be that she simply loathed Katharine Hepburn's character. "People don't talk like that! What even was that?" I recall her asking.
I assure you she's not the only person to respond that way to this film. Re-acting to comedy, of course, is very much a personal thing. I've never found anything funny in silly and irritating women upsetting a man's life and routine, but it's been a staple of comedy for a very long time.

If I were asked for recommendations as you were, the black-and-white films I'd suggest for openers would be The Bad And The Beautiful, Executive Suite and Touch Of Evil.
 

davidmatychuk

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Cary Grant is, was, and always will be my favourite movie star. I can't wait for Tuesday. I think that this home video version of "Bringing Up Baby" will be the last one in my lifetime, so for the final time on Home Theatre Forum (probably) here's why it is one of my all-time top ten movies:

By my count, the name "David" is heard a record 192 times during the movie, and every time someone says "David" they mean "Cary Grant". In short, they say my name, Cary Grant answers, and I am thrilled, over and over again.
 

BobO'Link

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Years ago, a co-worker at my office knew me as a "movie guy" and asked me for a recommendation on a classic film to watch. She was young (mid-20s), completely ignorant of pop culture older than 1980, and admitted to me that she had always been averse to anything black-and-white. But she wanted to broaden her horizons and said she was open to trying something different.

Fearing that Citizen Kane would be a bit heavy as a starting point, I suggested Bringing Up Baby. How could anyone not love this film, I thought? It's breezy and hilarious and a pure delight. It seemed to me like the perfect gateway drug to accessing classic movies.

Well, she came back the next day and sadly reported that she absolutely HATED IT. Didn't like anything about it. Thought it was torture to watch. The crux of it seemed to be that she simply loathed Katharine Hepburn's character. "People don't talk like that! What even was that?" I recall her asking.

That was a long time ago and I can't even remember the girl's name anymore. I don't imagine that she ever gave other classic movies much of a shot after that.
The key to these situations is to suggest movies that're in their favorite genre. I have a coworker in her late 20s with whom I discuss movies quite frequently. She's a horror movie lover but, like your coworker, had been averse to BW movies. I focused on her preferences and recommended a half dozen classic BW horror films, insisting she watch all of them before deciding against old BW films unilaterally. She liked all of them, some more than others, which was expected, and asked for more and in other genres. I gave her a few comedies (I don't think Bringing up Baby was among them in spite of it being a favorite of mine as, to me, Hepburn takes getting used to). She liked those so I gave her some noir. She's now a lover of classic BW movies and seeks out things on her own. I need to ask her if she's seen Bringing up Baby...
 

Richard M S

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I was asked about Bringing Up Baby yesterday when a friend saw this on my Criterion to-purchase list. I told him whether you either hate the film or love the film, Cary Grant's performance is just fantastic, and you will laugh. He bought it yesterday and has yet to watch it.

However even though this is a must-buy for me my feelings about Katherine Hepburn's privileged, oblivious character border on loathing as well - and I had that reaction years ago upon my second viewing. It certainly doesn't help that a certain group of critics canonized it in the 1960's and 1970's. However I hope the third time is the charm, as I love Cary Grant.
 

Malcolm R

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The only film I can always use to introduce people to classic Hollywood comedy, which never fails to please, is Some Like It Hot.
I don't think I liked this film. It's been a while, but I recall having a similar reaction as you described, "This is supposed to be funny? A classic comedy?"

I still have the disc in my collection. Maybe I'll give it another try.

Never seen Bringing Up Baby, though I do have the older DVD in my collection.
 

lark144

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I don't think I liked this film. It's been a while, but I recall having a similar reaction as you described, "This is supposed to be funny? A classic comedy?"

I still have the disc in my collection. Maybe I'll give it another try.

Never seen Bringing Up Baby, though I do have the older DVD in my collection.
I'd give it another chance.

It improves considerably with repeated viewings, and also as one ages.

I didn't get it when I was in my teens. Now I think it's one of the best film ever made. It's not something you can really articulate. The film has a quality that's unique.

As someone else posted, humor is a very personal thing.

But the film has an elegance and a tone, as well as a visual quality, that's like an ebullient dream you're loath to wake up from, or a weekend in the country with special friends, whose very presence beings joy.

For what's it worth, a dear friend of mind despises Katherine Hepburn. She hates the way she talks and walks and dresses. Yet she loves her in "Bringing Up Baby".

So who knows?
 

Dan Cooper

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Perhaps, "His Girl Friday" would've been a better choice. :)
My wife while a Cary Grant fan detests His girl Friday because of the actress Rosalind Russell. She actually likes the other male female reporter film wedding present better.

There is only one actress that i didnt care for in a cary grant film and that would be Ann Sheridan in i was a male war bride. The same can be said of her in a gary cooper film Good Sam. Sorry to say but I just dont like her.
 

octobercountry

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...The crux of it seemed to be that she simply loathed Katharine Hepburn's character. "People don't talk like that! What even was that?" I recall her asking.
Was she referring to Hepburn's accent? Now I'm curious.... I don't get out into society at all, so I have no idea----does the upper-class mid-Atlantic accent even exist anymore? Or is it a cultural artifact that has faded away, a style of speaking that no longer exists?
 

cadavra

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The problem may be that even moreso than most comedies, BABY really needs an audience to bring it to life. I've watched it by myself at home and it never produces the same delighted reaction that I get when I see it in a theatre. As for Hepburn, I can't understand how she can be annoying to a generation that embraces Amy Schumer, Kristen Wiig and those two women from "Broad City."

Incidentally, a few years ago, I took a millennial to see DUCK SOUP. Not only did she not laugh once, but she seemed puzzled by the whole thing. Afterwards, she said she simply didn't understand it, but thought the one who couldn't talk was "kind of cute."

Proving once again the wisdom of Mort Sahl: "Darwin was wrong."
 

JoshZ

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Was she referring to Hepburn's accent? Now I'm curious.... I don't get out into society at all, so I have no idea----does the upper-class mid-Atlantic accent even exist anymore? Or is it a cultural artifact that has faded away, a style of speaking that no longer exists?

I'm pretty sure it was a combination of the accent and the way all the characters spit out the dialogue non-stop rat-a-tat-tat style.
 

Stu Rosen

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I love Bringing Up Baby and couldn't care less if other folks don't. I just don't get all the hate for younger people who might not embrace it. I have two kids, one 32 and one 27 and sometimes they love old classics and sometimes not. And for all we know, it might be the "if you don't love this you're a cultural barbarian" attitude that drives the shrugged shoulders.

I just never understand why people get upset when someone else doesn't love something they do. It's not a signifier of stupidity or reverse-Darwinism. Reasonable minds can disagree.