Eccentric heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) steals a dinosaur bone from absent-minded paleontologist David Huxley (Cary Grant), forcing him to track her down to her Connecticut farm. Along the way he runs into trouble with the authorities and a possible sponsor for his museum, and ends up looking after Susan's pet leopard, 'Baby'.
"The love impulse in man", says a psychiatrist in Bringing Up Baby
, "frequently reveals itself in terms of conflict." That's for sure. For a primer on the rules and regulations of the classic screwball comedy, which throws love and conflict into close proximity, look no further. A straight-laced paleontologist (Cary Grant) loses a dinosaur bone to a dog belonging to free-spirited heiress Katharine Hepburn. In trying to retrieve said bone, Grant is drawn into the vortex surrounding the delicious Hepburn, which becomes a flirtatious pas de deux that will transform both of them. Director Howard Hawks plays the complications as a breathless escalation of their "love impulse" yet the movie is nonetheless romantic for all its speed. (Hawks's His Girl Friday
, also with Grant, goes even faster.) Grant and Hepburn are a match made in movie heaven, in sync with each other throughout. Not a great box-office success when first released, Bringing Up Baby
has since taken its place as a high-water mark of the screwball form and it was used as a model for Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc? --Robert Horton