BRINGING UP BABY CRITERION COLLECTION REVIEW

BRINGING UP BABY has been run over by every Tom, every Dick and a great amount of Harry’s. Howard Hawks has been spoken of highly by loads. His use of fast paced humour, rat a tat staccato dialogues and sharp eyed use of direction mostly gain the traction. Ignored is the fact the film was a flop at the time. Great films often are. Hepburn usually gets a run as well. She is seen as both straight woman and clever positioner of craft. She wasn’t first choice, more due to her salary demands and lack of box-office success for several years at that point. The producers saw something thankfully. Finally, Cary gets his day in the sun. He was the slapstick charmer. Gracing the screen with a hap dash flow that was all his. He was not first choice by a very long way. Not an uncommon thing to be honest but Hawks saw something. Again thankfully.

Welcome to the life of Dr.David Huxley (Cary Grant), mild-mannered paleontologist and man who keeps himself to himself. For the past four years, he has been trying to assemble the skeleton of a Brontosaurus. No mean feat. If only he could find that one missing bone. That “intercostal clavicle.” But he cant. Marriage becons him and he is less than thrilled. Alice Swallow (Virginia Walker) is dull and makes dish water sparkle. If the bone is not found, he will be married to her and not get the grant from Elizabeth Random (May Robson)that will keep him busy and in his beloved museum. David then stumbles into Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) at a golf course.  She plays his ball you see. Its a day before David’s big day and this is his chance to relax. From this moment on, Susan will get David into all manner of issues. Introduce him to a leopard, help him uncover a buried bone and maybe find him love.

Leave it to me to say that BRINGING UP BABY is a laugh a minute gem. You enter into 90 minutes of the chaotic life of a man put upon. He has little desire but to complete something and as the old adage goes, you have to climb to the top of a mountain to see far away. This is the broad idea behind BRINGING UP BABY. Life stuffs you with its nuances, it slices you with its idiocy but it also uplifts. You sometimes find more in the simple things than in the complex and if you suspend disbelief, you will laugh enough to find joy in this most simple of things. A comedy about chaos…

DISC

Ok. So there is a thing at the moment. Some have recently floated around with comments about the quality and consistency of Criterions releases. Fair point for some I agree but BRINGING UP BABY is what you would expect of a studio cash cow. Its 4K is SOLID. Textured, delights in being pristine visually and upgrades standard def to a new, print height. Well what did you expect. I admit. There is a little light loss in the outdoor scenes. This is noticeable by the heat of the light being dampened and the image dimming slightly. However it should be noted that the stock is old and 4K is not the saviour for older films some have stated.

EXTRAS

Oh boy. We have some of the old here. Bogdanovich waxing lyrical about his love for Hawks. Much more interesting is Scott Eyman Grant piece. No offense Peter. Eyman analysis of Grant at a point in his career, adds something new to the work and the films of Grant. There should have been more of costume designer Howard Greer with costume historian Shelly Foote. They are both fun and detailed in what they know and what they say. The best thing here by a shot is Howard Hawks: A Hell of a Good Life, a 1977 documentary by HansChristoph Blumenberg featuring the director’s last filmed interview. Fuck me that is a good doc…

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary from 2005 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
• New video essay on actor Cary Grant by author Scott Eyman
• New interview about cinematographer Russell Metty with cinematographer John Bailey
• New interview with film scholar Craig Barron on special-effects pioneer Linwood Dunn
• New selected-scene commentary about costume designer Howard Greer with costume historian Shelly Foote
• Howard Hawks: A Hell of a Good Life, a 1977 documentary by HansChristoph Blumenberg featuring the director’s last filmed interview
• Audio interview from 1969 with Grant
• Audio excerpts from a 1972 conversation between Hawks and Bogdanovich
• Trailer
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Sheila O’Malley

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