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
Despite strong previews and trade reviews, the film performed erratically. It did well in most West Coast and East Coast cities, faltered in the Midwest and, amazingly, flopped big time in New York City, where it was pulled from the Radio City Music Hall after just one week. Howard Hawks would later say the problem was that he had failed to put any normal characters into the film so there was nobody for the audience to identify with. See more »
The Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus skeleton has numerous errors, including the head of a different dinosaur, Camarasaurus. This was not known until certain discoveries were made at least 30 years after the film came out. See more »
Maybe the prototypical example of the breed, in fact. Zoologist Grant (we'd call him a paleontologist nowadays) goes to a golf course to try to wrangle money out of a potential donor: along the way he meets up with Katherine Hepburn, and they have all sorts of wacky misadventures.
Grant's great, though it's not a typical role for him -- he's uptight, buttoned down, smothered. He's clearly the superego character, straitlaced and repressed and anti-life (it's no accident he works with bones). Hepburn was never lovelier than she was here -- she's the id character, all action and movement. There's a dedicated minority of people who hate this movie, mostly I think because they see the things Hepburn's character does as cruel. That's the point. Hepburn's not supposed to be nice -- she's id. We laugh partly because Grant needs to be loosened up, but partly because some of Hepburn's actions are shocking. Ideally, we should be in the same position as Grant in the movie: half-attracted, half-afraid.
Great "rat-a-tat" dialog in the classic Hollywood tradition. I can't think of many screenwriters today who could deliver such dialog. Highly recommended, one of the great Hollywood comedies.
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