Major Horace Applegate
Dr. Fritz Lehmann
Mrs. Gogarty (Hannah)
George, the Dog
Baby, the Leopard
Louis, the Headwaiter
Joe, the Bartender
Based on the story by
Director of Photography
Art Direction by
Associate Art Director
Film Editing by
Costume Design by
Special Photographic Effects
Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde
Van Nest Polglase
John L. Cass
Vernon L. Walker
VHS / DVD
RKO Radio Pictures
Produced: September 27, 1937-January 8, 1938
Premiere: February 18, 1938
David Huxley, a professor of zoology, intends to marry his secretary, Alice Swallow, as soon as he can take time off from his work of assembling the bones of a great dinosaur. Everything is easy going with shy David and his very special world until Susan Vance, a madcap heiress, appears on the scene. Susan, a girl who always gets what she wants, wants David. She manages, in record time, to persuade the professor to take care of her tame Brazilian leopard 'Baby'. As a result, David loses a priceless dinosaur bone and alienates Susan's aunt Elizabeth, who had promised a million dollars to David's museum.
Life - 1938
"Cary Grant handles the role of the paleontologist with his usual comic skill but the real surprise of the picture is Katharine Hepburn. There has long been a delusion abroad that Miss Hepburn?s dramatic talent was confined to a narrow range, and her recent costume pictures seemed to prove it. In Bringing Up Baby she leaps bravely into a new and daffy domain already conquered by Carole Lombard and equals Miss Lombard?s best."
William Boehnel - New York World-Telegram - 1938
"Too farcical? Perhaps, but what joyous, unrestrained, sidesplitting fun! The acting of the entire cast, under Howard Hawks' bullet-speed direction, is superb. Having proved that she is the cinema's finest dramatic actress, Miss Hepburn now demonstrates that she is a comedienne of the highest order."
Otis Ferguson - The New Republic - March 2, 1938
"Katharine Hepburn builds the part from the ground, breathless, sensitive, headstrong, triumphant in illogic, and serene in that bounding brassy nerve possibly only to the very very well bred. Without the intelligence and mercury of such a study, the callous scheming of this bit of flutt would have left all in confusion and the audience howling for her blood. As it is, we merely accept and humor her, as one would a wife."
Frank S. Nugent - The New York Times - March 4, 1938
"To the Music Hall yesterday came a farce which you can barely hear above the precisely enunciated patter of Miss Katharine Hepburn and the ominous tread of deliberative gags. In Bringing Up Baby Miss Hepburn has a role, which calls for her to breathless, senseless and terribly fatiguing. She succeeds, and we can be callous enough to hint that it is no entirely a matter of performance."
Dave Kehr - Chicago Reader
"Try to sit back sometime and enjoy this 1938 Howard Hawks masterpiece not only for its gags, but for the grace of its construction, the assurance of its style, and the richness of its themes. Cary Grant's adventures with Katharine Hepburn lead from day into night, tameness into wildness, order into chaos; needless to say, it's a deeply pessimistic film, through it draws its grim conclusions in a searingly bright and chipper way. Amazingly, the film was a failure when first released (during Hepburn's 'box-office poison' period), but time has revealed its brilliance."
Geoff Andrew - Time Out
"One of the finest screwball comedies ever, with Grant - a dry, nervous, conventional palaeontologist ? meeting up with madcap socialite Hepburn and undergoing the destruction of his career, marriage, sanity and sexual identity. The catalyst in the process is Baby, a leopard that causes chaos wherever he goes, and finally awakens Grant to the attractions of irresponsible insanity. Fast, furious and very, very funny."
Alan Dale - Comedy is a Man in Trouble - 2000
"I can't think of another top female star of the era who was equally able to blend slapstick and sexual charisma. Even though Hepburn?s sharp cheekbones and slim-hipped, statuesque figure makes her look as if she were made of glass, she takes more pratfalls than any romantic heroine ever did ? she has the back ripped out of her dress in a hotel bar, trips over a phone cord, falls down a bluff, gets dunked in a creek, and unknowingly tugs a mangling leopard around on a leash. For a while, Hepburn even worked on a caged set with a live leopard, until the 'tame' Baby sprang on her back.... She?s miraculously funny in Bringing Up Baby ? somehow both airy and unstoppable...."
David Thomson - The New Biographical Dictionary of Film - 2002
"Nobody on the screen could be so funny and so moving in making a fool of herself, or so touching in reclaiming her dignity. That is why screwball comedy seemed in her hands one of Hollywood's most civilized forms and it is why Bringing Up Baby is so serious a film ? without ever lousing the status of being one of the funniest."
What Kate had to say
Katharine Hepburn - Me - 1991
"This script was a good one. Cary Grant was really wonderful in it. And I was good too. And the leopard was excellent.... Cary was so funny on this picture. He was fatter, and at this point his boiling energy was at its peak. We would laugh from morning to night. Everyone contributed anything and everything they could think of to that script.... Oddly enough, this picture did not do too well on its first release. Now it is considered a big hit. But I think that my presence - 'box-office poison' - was the trouble."
What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say
"Kate's a joy. At the end of Bringing Up Baby she climbs up on a ladder next to the brontosaurus, to apologize for what happened. The ladder falls, and she climbs to the back of the brontosaurus, where I'm standing on a platform. She had to get over the brontosaurus. As she moves, the brontosaurus starts to collapse. I told her when and how to let go. I told her to aim for my wrists, an old circus trick. You can't let go of that kind of grip, whereas if you go for the hands, you'll slip. She went for my wrists, and I pulled her up. Kate was marvellous trusting if she thought you knew what you were doing."
"Once she got the hand of the role, she was wonderful to work with - she had the poise of a good fighter. When she turns, she's 'in balance,' she could knock you out if she wanted to. I'd play gold with her at weekends in the middle of shooting, and she had a lovely stroke. She was a fine tennis player, and she had a tennis player's timing in comedy. That marvellous coordination! As for her famous ability to 'direct', I encouraged her to talk things over, as long as it wound up my way!"