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Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  18 February 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 42,906 users  
Reviews: 236 user | 102 critic

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard "Baby."



(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Major Applegate (as Charlie Ruggles)
Walter Catlett ...
Mr. Gogarty
Aunt Elizabeth
Fritz Feld ...
Dr. Lehman
Leona Roberts ...
Mrs. Gogarty
Mr. Peabody
Mrs. Lehman
Virginia Walker ...
Alice Swallow
John Kelly ...


Mild mannered zoology professor Dr. David Huxley is excited by the news that an intercostal clavicle bone has been found to complete his brontosaurus skeleton, a project four years in the construction. He is equally excited about his imminent marriage to his assistant, the officious Alice Swallow, who is interested in him more for his work than for him as a person. David needs the $1 million endowment of wealthy dowager Mrs. Carleton Random to complete the project. Her lawyer, Alexander Peabody, will make the decision on her behalf, so David needs to get in his favor. However, whenever David tries to make a good impression on Peabody, the same young woman always seems to do something to make him look bad. She is the flighty heiress Susan Vance. The more David wants Susan to go away, the more Susan seems not to want or be able to. But David eventually learns that Alexander Peabody is her good friend, who she calls Boopy, and Susan's Aunt Elizabeth, with whom David has also made a bad ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

leopard | bone | museum | love | lawyer | See All (75) »


And so begins the hilarious adventure of Professor David Huxley and Miss Susan Vance, a flutter-brained vixen with love in her heart! [Theatrical trailer.]


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 February 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Leoparden küßt man nicht  »

Box Office


$1,073,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


After a bad start, Howard Hawks grew to respect Katharine Hepburn tremendously for her comic timing, ad-libbing skills and physical control. He would tell the press, "She has an amazing body - like a boxer. It's hard for her to make a wrong turn. She's always in perfect balance. She has that beautiful coordination that allows you to stop and make a turn and never fall off balance. This gives her an amazing sense of timing. I've never seen a girl that had that odd rhythm and control." See more »


When David and Susan are putting Baby into the stall in the stable, the shadow of the boom is very clear in the lower front left corner of the screen as they close the stall door. See more »


[first lines]
Prof. LaTouche: Good morning, Miss Swallow.
Alice Swallow: Shh.
Prof. LaTouche: Why what's the matter ?
Alice Swallow: Doctor Huxley is thinking.
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Featured in American Masters: Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004) See more »


I Can't Give You Anything but Love
(1928) (uncredited)
Words by Dorothy Fields
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Played as background music very often throughout the film
Sung a cappella by Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Utter perfection. Howard Hawks, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant make the most exquisite comedy of the sound era
2 January 2004 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

In his glorious Bringing Up Baby, Howard Hawks ratchets screwball comedy up to its tautest and springiest level. In clumsier hands, screwball all too often gallops into the frenetic, fraying the nerves; Hawks maintains a presto pace, but never lets the mixups and misunderstandings grow implausible – he just glides serenely to something else. (And he makes it look easy, which it isn't: Peter Bogdanovich fumbled in his loose remake What's Up, Doc, making it labored and literal-minded.)

Hawks could barely go wrong with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as his leads, but the rest of the cast he assembles, human as well as animal, can't be faulted either (with the redoubtable May Robson earning extra credit). And while he draws on stock characters and stereotypes that probably date back to commedia dell'arte – the stuffy professor, the blithe rich girl, her crusty dowager aunt, the bumbling sheriff – he freshens each one up, making them distinctive, memorable and endearing.

Behind a pair of repressive spectacles, Grant plays the single-minded paleontologist whose path crosses with that of madcap Hepburn, never again to uncross. The plot revolves around a leopard named Baby, a million dollars, an intercostal clavicle bone, a dog named George who buries it....well, it all makes perfect sense while you're watching.

Underneath all the antics, Hawks never loses sight of the pastoral romance that Bringing Up Baby at its core really is (at its most magical in the woods under a full moon, and captured by Russell Metty's lovely photography). Grant's been rooting around in the dirt for so long looking for dinosaur bones that it takes him forever to 'get' Hepburn – an airborne sprite who never comes down to earth. (Their alchemy here is rarefied, not the commoner sort of reaction they kindled in the stage-bound The Philadelphia Story.)

Last but not least, the movie features the canine talents of Asta (né Skippy), who appeared as himself in the Thin Man series – Nick and Nora Charles' lovable cur. Here he plays George, who, barking his stubby tail off, has no qualms about tangling with Baby the leopard. Is there any question that this high-strung wire-haired terrier is and will forever be (pace Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie) Hollywood's top dog? How fitting that he should lend his considerable talents to Bringing Up Baby, the most exquisite comedy of the sound era.

45 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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