Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Bringing Up Baby (1938)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

In Howard Hawks' classic and definitive screwball comedy:

  • it highlighted the comedic antics and "misadventures" between shy, bespectacled paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant) and scatter-brained, fast-talking eccentric heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) [Note: It was remade in homage as Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc? (1972) with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal]
  • in the film's opening, the mild-mannered David was high up on a scaffolding working in the Stuyvesant Museum of Natural History to assemble a Brontosaurus skeleton (but he was missing only a single bone about to finally be delivered - an "intercostal clavicle"); he was preoccupied by his stiff and bossy co-worker and bride-to-be Miss Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) who he would marry the following day, and an impending $1 million dollar donation
  • that afternoon, he had an appointment to play golf with Mr. Alexander Peabody (George Irving), a lawyer who represented a wealthy, gift-giving philanthropist-sponsor; Peabody would supervise Mrs. Elizabeth Carlton Random (May Robson), aka Aunt Elizabeth, and her proposed donation to complete the construction of the hall
  • during his golf game on the course, the mad-cap Susan continuously interrupted bumbling David's golf game with Mr. Peabody, by stealing his golf ball (or playing it), and driving away in his battered car ("I'll be with you in a minute, Mr. Peabody!")
  • in the next sequence set at a fashionable supper nightclub in the Ritz Plaza Hotel, a tuxedoed, black top-hatted David arrived to meet Mr. Peabody for dinner to discuss the million dollar grant; Susan was also present, showing off an olive game that she learned from a bartender -- she held an olive on the flat part of her hand, tapped her hand, and then caught the airborne olive in her mouth; walking by, the unsuspecting David slipped and took a pratfall on the olive she just dropped on the floor
  • a rapid exit from the supper club ensued - to cover up David's torn tuxedo and her ripped evening dress; it was expedited as he walked in unison close behind her, covered her posterior and saved her reputation; outside, David confessed his fixation on Susan: "Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because after all, in moments of quiet I'm strangely drawn toward you, but well, there haven't been any quiet moments. Our relationship has been a series of misadventures from beginning to end...", before he sprawled face-first onto the ground
  • when Susan offered to drive him to her Aunt's Connecticut farm on the day of his scheduled marriage to Alice, he wasn't aware that she had a music-loving, 3 year-old tame pet leopard named Baby that she planned to bring along in the car. He was also forced to bring along a package containing the all-important "intercostal clavicle bone" for the brontosaurus reconstruction that he was working on
  • during their drive to her Aunt Elizabeth's farm in Westlake, Connecticut, with her 3 year-old pet leopard Baby in the back seat - and along the way after Susan rear-ended a truck carrying a load of chickens, Baby got away and attacked fluttering poultry (off-screen) in the chicken coop; covered with chicken feathers, David fumed - annoyed that he had to pay for Baby's expensive meal - "an assortment of ducks and chickens, not to mention a couple of swans" that cost him $150
  • in a funny scene, David purchased 30 lbs. of raw sirloin steak (in one piece) at a market from a bewildered butcher for the hungry animal
  • fluffy negligee-wearing David admitted his strange appearance ("I don't know, I'm not quite myself today"); he also sarcastically exclaimed in front of Susan's rich Aunt Elizabeth as he jumped into the air while dressed in the fluffy and frilly negligee (Susan's dressing gown): "Because I just went gay all of a sudden"; Susan explained to her Aunt that David was a friend of her brother's from Brazil and that David was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he quipped: "I'm a nut from Brazil"
  • further upset arose when David's dinosaur bone was stolen by Susan's aunt's dog George (Asta of The Thin Man series) and buried somewhere on the grounds
  • during a long chase in the woods after an escaped Baby, Susan carried a butterfly net while David was prepared with a rope and croquet mallet; they found Baby sitting on a neighbor's roof - to calm the tame leopard and attract him down off the roof, they serenaded Baby with his favorite and fondest song, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby"; after causing a disturbance, the two were reported by the home owner Dr. Fritz Lehman (Fritz Feld) and thrown in the local jail by Constable Slocum (Walter Catlett)
  • during a major incarceration scene in adjacent jail cells in the Westlake City Jail, Susan fancifully pretended to be a gangster moll (a member of the 'Leopard Gang,' infamous for robberies and other criminal activities); suddenly, another leopard (not Baby but a murderous escaped animal from the circus) appeared - it was a case of mistaken leopard identity; Susan dragged the angry and spitting wild leopard into the jailhouse at the end of a rope; stepping in front of her with a chair, David heroically defended her from the vicious leopard and chased it into an empty jail cell
  • in the climactic finale, the missing dog-buried bone was returned by Susan, and back in the museum, David was attempting to reconstruct the brontosaurus skeleton; Susan and David found themselves swaying and dangling from the crumbling and collapsing scaffolding platform; she apologized to David: ("Oh David, look what I've done. Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh, oh, David, can you ever forgive me? You can and you still love me...You do, oh David"), and he replied during their final kiss and embrace: ("Oh, dear. Oh, my. Hmmm")

An Interrupted Golf Game with Mr. Peabody

David Covering Up Susan's Ripped Dress

'Baby' (Susan's Pet Leopard) in Back Seat

David: "I just went gay all of a sudden"

Serenading 'Baby' With "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby"

The Westlake City Jail

Collapse of Brontosaurus Skeleton


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