best films: #1: BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
What better way to return to the blogging world than by officially wrapping up the very first series I ever featured on Journalistic Skepticism, my 100 movies countdown. (FYI: This list is circa 2009, so it’s about time for an update, seeing as though I’ve viewed quite a few movies since then… a FYC for a revised Top 100 will be coming your way in the coming months!) After all the sweeping epics and goofy comedies and sentimental kids flicks and harrowing thrillers, my #1 movie of all time all comes down to Baby. The tamed, house-trained leopard that is. One of the reasons I fell in love with movies, to be honest, it’s an enduring classics that I could never see too many times and that elicits laughter unlike most anything that’s come after it. Bringing Up Baby is my all-time favorite. You can’t get a much better pair of actors than Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. They’re both legendary talents who are best known, perhaps, for their more serious roles but truly shine in comedy. Particularly this screwball affair in which an eccentric heiress, a bumbling paleontologist, and a runaway pet leopard chase each other around the countryside.
It sounds like the plot of some terrible CGI-ed Adam Sandler vehicle now, but the movie is sheer brilliance. Hepburn plays high society type Susan Vance to outstanding effect. Her natural lilt works great in this setting, and her timing is beyond. Grant is her overly able straight man who gets worn down by Susan’s endless charms. It’s goofy, to be sure, but it purely defines what I find most wonderful about the cinema. It tells a seemingly simple story in such a way that anyone who watches it leaves with pure joy. Howard Hawks’ now-classic is all the more incredible considering it was a catastrophic flop when it was released. Thank goodness it wasn’t lost into obscurity due to its ill will. It’s an astounding piece of comedy gold, and I am hard-pressed to find anyone who’s watched it that doesn’t agree with that.