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Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Passed | | Comedy, Family, Romance | 18 February 1938 (USA)
1:38 | Trailer
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.


Howard Hawks


Dudley Nichols (screen play), Hagar Wilde (screen play) | 1 more credit »
3,715 ( 2,493)
2 wins. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Katharine Hepburn ... Susan Vance
Cary Grant ... David Huxley
Charles Ruggles ... Major Applegate (as Charlie Ruggles)
Walter Catlett ... Slocum
Barry Fitzgerald ... Mr. Gogarty
May Robson ... Aunt Elizabeth
Fritz Feld ... Dr. Lehman
Leona Roberts ... Mrs. Gogarty
George Irving ... Alexander Peabody
Tala Birell ... Mrs. Lehman
Virginia Walker Virginia Walker ... Alice Swallow
John Kelly ... Elmer


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


The laughing streak of Mister Grant and funnyman Ruggles hits a new high...in the maddest yarn that ere did spurt from the fountain head of sweet romance , oh baby! (print ad) See more »


Comedy | Family | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The first of five times director Howard Hawks would work with actor Cary Grant. The other four are: Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), I Was a Male War Bride (1949), and Monkey Business (1952). It is not only considered the best of the five, but also the highlight of their careers. It's their highest-rated comedy on AFI's 100 Funniest Comedies List (#14) and the only Howard Hawks movie on both AFI lists in 1998 and 2007 of the top 100 greatest movies of all time. It even moved up from 97th place in the first list to 88th in the second. See more »


When the Professor LaTouche brings in the telegram for Dr. Huxley; he is holding it with his left hand. But on the next immediate cut as he hands it to Alice; he is now holding it with both hands. 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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Alternate Versions

Some scenes were cut for the German theatrical release. In 1992 the German ZDF TV reconstructed the missing scenes but the German voice actors/actress who dubbed the movie were no longer available. Thus the reconstructed version changes between the existing dubbed scenes and English-speaking scenes with German subtitles. However, the additional scenes are also from a different print, resulting in a much lesser contrast. See more »


Referenced in Svengoolie: The Invisible Woman (2012) See more »


Music by Daniel Decatur Emmett
[Heard in the background during the parade/butcher shop scene.]
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User Reviews

The animal inside ...
20 August 2013 | by cafmSee all my reviews

Animals play a significant role in Bringing Up Baby, adding absurdity to the comic situations and its theme of

crazed infatuation. When we first meet him, palaeontologist David Huxley (Grant) is preparing to marry his co-worker Alice Swallow (Walker). Alice, we learn, is a rational, no-nonsense woman who sees marriage as a convenient and rational transaction rather than as an expression of love. As the film opens, David and Alice are putting the final touches on a brontosaurus skeleton that he has been working on for five years. The skeleton seems to be a symbol of the couple's relationship - dry, brittle, tenuous, old and, most importantly, dead.

Enter Susan Vance (Hepburn), whose wild anarchic nature is just what the doctor ordered. She seems, on the surface, hair-brained - and this may be true - but her ditziness is the result of being absolutely, utterly, ridiculously head-over-heals in love (at first sight, as is the case with most l'amour fou scenarios) with David and doing whatever she can to sabotage his plans to marry Alice. Susan's leopard, named Baby, is the symbol of her love for David, for the moment the leopard lays its eyes on him, it is instantly affectionate and follows him around, just as Susan does. Jittery David is, of course, terrified of the beast and all that it represents.

The leopard becomes an increasingly useful symbol as the film continues. At her aunt's estate in Connecticut, Susan releases another leopard its cage, thinking it is Baby captured by zoo officials when in fact it is a rogue leopard from the circus on its way to be gassed after attacking someone. With two leopards on the loose, the analogy becomes unmistakable - the wild leopard that Susan releases is David's libido, free at last after being repressed for so long in a loveless relationship. Indeed, towards the end of the film, when the wild leopard traps the host of characters in the local jail, it is nervous, terrified David who steps up and boldly saves the day.

This I suppose is just one way of reading and enjoying a film like Bringing Up Baby. i think it's interesting that the film announces its interested in exploring psychoanalysis with the inclusion of a character who is a Freudian therapist (Dr Lehman played by Fritz Feld). Psychoanalysis was, of course, very popular among Hollywood screenwriters between the 30s and 50s who adopted all manner of coded symbols for sex after Joseph Breen's Production Code so tightly reasserted control over what could and couldn't be represented on screen. But the fact that Dr Lehman's diagnoses are so far off tells us that the science of the mind is no match for the power of l'amour fou, which turns men and women into wild, irrational carnal beasts.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

18 February 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bringing Up Baby See more »


Box Office


$1,073,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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