Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don't Make a Scene: Bringing Up Baby

The Story: In the movies, in romantic comedies or romantic dramas, it's called "Meeting Cute." The two potential paramours collide ... sometimes literally... into each other's orbits, and circle around each other, as if they were heavenly bodies caught in each other's gravity fields. They wobble, they parry, they dance...frequently against their will, and most often to one of their's frustration.  But, they can't get free of each other; a screenwriter's contrivances are stronger than anything Einstein could come up with.

Here is one of the best, the "Meeting Cute" of paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) with Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) in Bringing Up Baby—he's buttoned down, conservative, neat, tidy (and probably brave, clean and reverent), concerned with dead things for a living and in need of growing up—and fly-by-night Susan Vance is his exact opposite: where he's studied, she's instinctual; he's deferential, she's aggressive; he's methodical, she's scatter-shot; he's a "details" guy, she's a generalist.  Well, to get back to science, opposites attract...even if it's only trouble.

They complement each other, but their attraction seems to disrupt the Universe.  Disaster follows in their wake, which David cannot stand, much less fathom.  It makes him crazy, frustrating him, and driving him to distraction.  Constraints are broken down by Susan's anarchy and pretty soon he can't help but be in love.  It's only logical—what in the hell would he been doing spending all this time with this girl if he wasn't.

Good thing, too.  The order of his life—his work, his career, his impending wedding—is pretty neat and tidy, and in desperate need of being shaken up; Susan is his tornado.  The two of them together resembles something of the real world, messy and chaotic but copable.  More than that, Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans—Susan is the anarchic Life-force that disrupts David's lock-step march with Order and Death. 

But, of course, this is all sub-text in the details.  The story is an old one.  Boy Meets Girl.  Boy Loses Mind.

And Heart.

Happy Valentine's Day.

The Set-Up: On the day before his wedding to his colleague Miss Swallow, David Huxley (Cary Grant) is attempting to secure a million dollar donation for his dinosaur museum, playing golf with his potential benefactor's lawyer, a Mr. Peabody.  Right off the tee, David has hooked his ball.  And Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) has taken it and is about to play with to speak.


DAVID HUXLEY: Oh, look. Loo..k..

DAVID: Hey that's my ball! Just a minute!

DAVID: Uh, say...
SUSAN VANCE: Well, here's hoping...
DAVID: I say! Just a minute, I beg your

SUSAN swings and hits.

DAVID: Oh dear...

SUSAN: You shouldn't do that, y'know...

DAVID: But tha...What shouldn't I do?

SUSAN: Talk while someone's shooting.
DAVID: Yes, but that was my ball y...
SUSAN: Well, anyway, I forgive you, 'cuz I got a good shot.
DAVID: But, you don't understand...

SUSAN walks off, DAVID following.

SUSAN: See? There it is, right next to the pin.
DAVID: But...that has nothing to do with it...
SUSAN: Oh, are you playing through?
DAVID: No, I've just driven off the first tee...
SUSAN: (laughs) I see you're a stranger here. You should be over there. This is the 18th fairway and I'm right on the green.
DAVID: Yes, but...
SUSAN: If I sink this putt, I'm going to beat my record.

DAVID: (To Peabody, waiting on the first fairway) I'll be with you in a minute!!

DAVID: What kind of ball are you playing?
DAVID: Well, I'm playing a Crowflight.
SUSAN: Hmm. I like the PGA better.

DAVID: I'm just trying to explain to you that you're playing my ball. You see, A PGA has two black dots and a Crowflight has a circle...
SUSAN: Mm-hmm.
DAVID: Y..y..
SUSAN: I'm not superstitious about things like that...
DAVID: Oh, but that doesn't have anything to do with i...
SUSAN: Stop talking for a minute, would you please...

SUSAN: Would you take out the pin?
DAVID: But...

DAVID: Oh my, this is so silly, I never saw such...

DAVID: There, you see? It's a circle.
SUSAN: Well, now, of course it is. Do you think it would roll if it was square?
DAVID: No, I have reference to a mark on the ball.
SUSAN: Oh no, I was merely being silly...
DAVID: That proves it's a Crowflight.
SUSAN: What does it matter? It's only a game, anyway.

DAVID: Well, my dear young lady, you don't seem to realize that you've placed me in a m...very embarrassing position.
SUSAN: Oh really? I'm sorry...
DAVID: The most important corporation lawyer in New York is waiting for me over on the first fairway.
SUSAN: Then it's silly of you to be fooling around on the eighteenth green.
DAVID: don't mind if I take this with me?
SUSAN: No! Not at all! Tell the caddy-master to put it in my bag when you're finished.

PEABODY: Huxley!

PEABODY: Huxley! Come on!

DAVID: Oh, yes! I'll be with you in a minute, Mr. Peabody!

SUSAN is blocked in the parking lot and attempts to get out by slamming into the car in front.

CADDY: Hey, Mister. I think that's your car!

DAVID: Hey! Hey! Oh...

DAVID: I'll be with you in a minute, Mr. Peabody!


DAVID: Hey! Hey! What do you think you're doing?
SUSAN: I'm trying to unpark my car!

SUSAN: Oh! Hello!
DAVID: This is MY car!
SUSAN: Oh, good, would you mind moving it out of the way?
DAVID: No! No! This is MY CAR!
SUSAN: Yes, I understand that! If you'd move it back about four feet, well, maybe I'll be able to get out!
DAVID: Well, I'm afraid you made a mistake. THIS is your...

SUSAN revs the engine.

DAVID: Wait! What did you say?

SUSAN: I said if you move it back about four feet, I'll be able to get out. I'm in a terrible hurry and I can't budge.
DAVID: Oh, you want me to move YOUR car...
SUSAN: Would you mind terribly?
DAVID: Well, yes I will, but I...
SUSAN: Oh, that would be awfully kind of you.
DAVID: Well, take it easy with that car..
SUSAN: Yes, I'll go slowly.

SUSAN accelerates in reverse and crumples a bumper on the tree.

DAVID: No..what...

DAVID: What are you doing?

SUSAN: Well, I..I have to get into position.

DAVID: Well, please be CAREFUL!
SUSAN: I will.

DAVID starts her car.

SUSAN: Now, you say "when."
DAVID: Alright.
SUSAN: Am I clear?
DAVID: Yes, you're clear now.
SUSAN: Clear?
DAVID: Yes...

SUSAN accelerates into the car in front of her.


DAVID: Now look what you've done!

SUSAN: Oh, that's alright, I'm insured.

DAVID: Well, I don't care whether YOU'RE insured or not!

DAVID: Look! Let me drive this car.
SUSAN: Oh, it's alright, it's an old wreck, anyway. Doesn't matter...
DAVID: Well, don't understand! This is MY CAR!
DAVID: Of course!
SUSAN: YOUR golf ball. YOUR car. Is there anything in the world that doesn't belong to you?

DAVID: Yes, thank heaven...YOU!!

SUSAN: Now, don't lose your temper.
DAVID: Well, uh...

DAVID: My dear young lady, I am not losing my temper. I am merely trying to play some golf!
SUSAN: Well, you choose the funniest places. This is a parking lot!

DAVID: Will you get out of my car?
SUSAN: Will you get off my running board?
DAVID: This is MY running board!

SUSAN: Alright, honey, stay there, then!

SUSAN starts to pull out, with DAVID being carried away, clinging to the car, protesting the entire way.

DAVID: Oh! Oh! Oh!

SUSAN: Oh, you think everything belongs to you, this is my car....

 SUSAN: If you want to come with me, you're more than...
DAVID: My dear young lady, you...

PEABODY: Huxley! Huxley!

DAVID: I'll be with you in a minute, Mr. Peabody!

Bringing Up Baby

Words by Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde

Pictures by Russell Metty and Howard Hawks

Bringing up Baby is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

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