When this film was released in 1938, the great majority of filmgoers were young enough to have experienced the era of vaudevile, whose death knell had been sounded by the coming of "talkies" after 1927. For this reason the film was not so much of a hit as it is today. Considered old fashioned and a bit passe, these type of screwball comedies that borrowed heavily on vaudeville routines, no longer commanded broad appeal and the genre in general was soon confined to such lesser lights as Abbot and Costello.
Flash forward 65 years and BRINGING UP BABY is now acclaimed as a minor masterpiece. That it harkens back to vaudeville is no longer a handicap. More entrancing is that it features two legends of the Silver Screen in their early prime. Cary Grant, who cut his teeth on the vaudeville circuit, is amazing in both his comic timing and his ability to carry off visual gags. To see the Grant who went on to become the very symbol of urbane sophistication stumbling around the set dressed in a night gown is priceless.
Screwball comedy is a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer comedy that arises out of a certain situation, rather than comedy generated for it's own sake, such as is evident in BRINGING UP BABY. One weakness of the genre is that as one visual gag follows another in rapid fire succession, the viewer becomes somewhat jaded, just as a gourmet would feel after consuming too many chocolate bonbons in a single sitting. After an hour or so, my attention was beginning to wander because my brain was not able to connect to a discernable plot line. Although it was great fun to see Grant and Hepburn go through their paces, one's intellect was not engaged and in the end the film just seemed a bit longer than it really is.
It's quite an honour for such a film to be featured in a two disc package. I am a big fan of Cary Grant and very much enjoyed the retrospection on his career. When they made Cary Grant they certainly did throw away the mould.