Directed by Howard Hawks, Bringing Up Baby stars Cary Grant as harried palaeontologist Dr. David Huxley, and Katharine Hepburn as heiress Susan Vance in this screwball classic.
This post is part of The First Annual Valentine’s Day Meet-Cute Blogathon, hosted by the excellent Phyllis Loves Classic Movies.
In the Spring 1996 edition of The Paris Review, famed director Billy Wilder described a meet cute as “where boy meets girl in a particular way, and sparks fly”. When David meets Susan you can practically hear the crackle of electricity; Grant and Hepburn have fantastic screen chemistry together, and were perfectly cast as the unlikely pair. Producers originally wanted Carole Lombard – a cousin of Howard Hawks – for the part of Susan, reluctant to pay the costly salary of Hepburn after she had experienced a string of box office flops. Various actors were considered for the part of David, including Harold Lloyd and Robert Montgomery, before Howard Hughes suggested Grant to his friend Hawks.
When the audience is introduced to David, he isn’t having the easiest time, to say the least. Having spent the past several years of his career attempting to assemble a Brontosaurus skeleton – which is missing just one bone – he is staring down the barrel of his impending marriage to a woman who tells him their life together will be focused on his work, rather than on any romantic pursuits. His stress is compounded by an upcoming game of golf with Mr. Peabody, the lawyer of a wealthy woman who is considering making a substantial donation to the museum at which he works.
David and Susan’s first encounter is on the golf course, when in classic meet-cute style he discovers that she is playing his ball. She playfully admonishes him for sneaking up on her while she was taking her shot, and is oblivious as he tries to explain to her the differentiating marks on each of their golf balls:
Susan: Well what does it matter? It’s only a game anyway
David: Well my dear young lady, you don’t seem to realise you’ve placed me in a very embarrassing position
Susan: Oh really? I’m sorry
David: The most important corporation lawyer in New York is waiting for me over on the first fairway
Susan: Then it’s silly of you to be fooling around on the eighteenth green
David: [gesturing to the golf ball] You don’t mind if I take this with me?
Susan: No not at all, tell the caddy master to put it in my bag when you’ve finished
As if this confusion isn’t enough, it also turns out that the pair drive identical cars, a fact which comes to light after David spots Susan disastrously attempting to drive his vehicle out of the parking lot.
David: Well, you don’t understand – this is my car!
Susan: You mean, this is your car?
David: Of course
Susan: Your golf ball? Your car? Is there anything in the world that doesn’t belong to you?
David: Yes, thank heaven – you!