#371- Bringing Up Baby

Quick recap: A woman with a pet leopard forces a hapless scientist to fall in love with her. Congrats?

It happens to the best of us

Fun (?) fact: Bringing Up Baby was considered a commercial failure at the time. It was so bad director Howard Hawks was fired from RKO Pictures and Katherine Hepburn was considered ‘box office poison’.

All cats interrupt phone calls, no matter how big or small they are

My thoughts: Bringing Up Baby is the original ‘screwball comedy’ because literally everyone is insaneHoward Hawks, in discussing why the film did so poorly, hypothesized it was because there’s no straight man to calm things down. Everyone, from the constable, to the housekeeper and to the main characters has their own ridiculous personality. Susan, played by Hepburn, exists as pure chaotic energy. She’s the first Manic Pixie Dream Girl! Everything she does sets off consequences (usually negative) to those around her, especially David, whose only fault is that he engaged with her. After that, it was all over. From what I’ve seen, it’s this frenetic pace that also helped turned audiences off. It was too witty, there were too many jokes being thrown around and too many characters who needed the spotlight. I’ve seen all sorts of comedies and this movie was ridiculously fast even for me.

But I still loved it. The main draw for me is the attraction Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn had. They were perfect to play opposite each other. Grant was a seasoned Vaudeville actor so slapstick comedy was nothing new for him, but Hepburn had never done anything quite like this. I think what makes her so successful is that she truly enjoyed herself. You can see how much fun she is having causing all this trouble and seems perfectly at ease in front of the camera. It’s hard not to fall in love with her. I enjoyed all of the acting, really, because in this movie, there was no such thing as over the top. And of course the leopard was just icing on the cake. I was worried he would used to do tricks and would be seen throughout the whole film, but that wasn’t the case. He’s integral to the plot but he really isn’t shown all that much.

Despite how well Susan and David worked together, their romance made me all sorts of uncomfortable. I know that’s the joke but she really did ruin so much of his life in 24 hours, including the final scene when she destroys his life’s work in a matter of seconds. Still, he tells her that their time spent together was the happiest in his life so far so maybe this will be the beginning of changes for him. One can only hope.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Beauty and the Beast

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#365- The Jungle Book

Quick recap: Mowgli wants to continue living in the jungle even though literally every animal either hates his very essence or just wants to eat him.

Did you know there is fan fiction where Baloo Bagheera Gay Dad it Up and raise Mowgli together? Because I did not.

Fun (?) fact: According to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, we should be pronouncing Mowgli as if the first syllable rhymes with ‘cow’. She reportedly never forgave Disney for messing this up.

Me around any responsibilities

My thoughts:  My usual strategy with a cartoon is to invite my nine year old to watch it with me and get his ‘hot take’ on things (as the kids say). This worked perfectly with A Night at the Opera ….and that’s about it. He stayed for about 15 minutes, got bored and went to go play on his phone. When asked later on if there was any wisdom he wanted to impart from the little bit he did watch, my son rolled his eyes deeply and replied, ‘It was horrible. Just horrible.’

I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed The Jungle Book. I thought the animation was really pretty and I’m a sucker for animals. Even more enjoyable, I was quite pleased to find out that this movie isn’t as racist as I remembered it to be. As an example, Louis Armstrong was originally chosen to play the orangutan King Louie but was cut because Disney didn’t want him to be likened to an ape, the racist stereotype. How progressive! But really, this just felt like a sweet story about a little boy growing up. A timeless tale, if you will. There was a wide range of genres of music from scatting to a barbershop quartet that made the movie seem more fun than I remember as a kid. I found myself humming along to several tunes days later, a sign that I’m hooked.

I’m always surprised when I rewatch a childhood film to find that I now identify with an entirely different character than I used to and I no longer fear the villain. This time around, it made total sense why Bagheera wanted Mowgli back in the village and how totally wrong Baloo was for the boy. As a kid, Baloo just looked fun and sweet but considering he let Mowgli get kidnapped by monkeys in the middle of their first song together, maybe he wasn’t the best choice. Then again, Bagheera almost let Kaa the snake eat him so he’s not entirely blameless. As for Shere Khan, who absolutely scared me as a kid, now I see him as just a tiger who needs to eat and who is rightfully scared of fire. Adulthood may have less imagination but it sure brings about some good logic.

Final review: 4/5

Up next: Tabu

#359- My Fair Lady

Quick recap: Professor Higgins places a bet he can turn Eliza Doolittle, a poor flower girl with the most grating voice, into a proper woman in just a few months’ time. It proves to be quite the challenge.

Fun (?) fact: Although Audrey Hepburn went through lengthy vocal training, it is Marni Nixon’s voice you ultimately hear. This bummed me out more than I expected it to.

My thoughts:  My Fair Lady is the musical to end all musicals. It’s hilarious at times, the music is catchy, the costumes are ridiculously beautiful and it’s got freakin’ Audrey Hepburn in the leading role! So why didn’t I love this movie?

Before I get to the heavy stuff, here are the fun highlights:

favorite song- Wouldn’t it be Loverly (because it’s fun to sing)

least favorite number– I’m an Ordinary Man

Favorite scene– the race track

favorite costume-

 

I think I walked away from this movie with sadness because it’s actually a depressing film. Eliza is a poor girl who has clearly had a rough life. The only family she has is her drunk father who only seeks her out when he needs money. She finally catches a break with Professor Higgins, but is reduced to being humiliated and tortured and mocked mercilessly, all because of her status and voice. And when she finally, FINALLY triumphs, she realizes she was nothing more than a lab rat or a monkey to keep everyone’s attention. And then in the end she goes back to Higgins who has not treated her well at all, except to grudgingly admit that her face is alright. I get the humor in this, I really do, and Audrey Hepburn plays the role so perfectly. But if you look at the facts, this is a woman who had nothing and still has nothing, so she must return to the man beat her down because he’s grown accustomed to her being around.

Final review: 4/5. The music and performances make this a true classic although the story itself is icky.

Up next: The Young and the Damned

 

#313- Meet Me in St. Louis

Quick recap: The Smith family encounters many ups and downs leading up to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903. A better title for the film could’ve been, If You Love St.Louis so Much, Why Don’t you Marry it?

a special ‘thanks’ to Judy Garland for getting this song stuck in my head for a week straight

Fun (?) fact: The mother of Margaret O’Brien (who played Tootie) wanted her child to get paid more, but the studio refused. Instead, they randomly chose a lighting guy’s daughter to fill the roll, going so far as to dress her and give her lines. The studio eventually backed down and O’Brien took over her roll again. The lighting guy then dropped a light during one of Tootie’s scenes, just narrowly missing her. He was later committed to an institution. Hollywood didn’t play around back then.

let me tell you, though, this kid was amazing

My thoughts: I love a good musical, and Meet Me in St. Louis didn’t disappoint. There were infectious songs, beautiful costumes, romance and an absolutely terrifying Halloween scene that gave me nightmares, so what else could I ask for?

So, first off, the entire cast was fabulous, especially Margaret O’Brien (as mentioned earlier) and Judy Garland as Esther Smith. I have heard her voice over and over in the Wizard of Oz but never really appreciated its depth until this movie. Side note: I had no idea this was considered a Christmas film. Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was damn depressing, which is just about what I expect all my holiday movies to be, so I’m on board. Anyway, I loved everything about Garland except for her eyebrows, which really weirded me out. But I also feel guilty about that knowing the hell she went through on account of her looks. And maybe that was the style at the time?

Oh, honey. No.

And then there is that crazy Halloween scene, which just comes out of NOWHERE. The scene begins with Rose helping the little girls, Tootie and Agnes, with their costumes and I’m thinking it’s just going to be another cute peek into this family’s life. But then the girls go outside to join their friends, who have started a freaking BONFIRE in the street. What are they burning?Why are they burning things? Girls are dressed as boys and boys are dressed up as girls and it’s madness. There’s apparently some game going on where the older kids pretend to kill the neighbors by throwing flour in their faces and screaming, ‘I hate you!’. And the thing is, Agnes and Tootie already had a conversation with their mother about the flour so it’s a known thing. The rest of the movie is your typical romance and family fare, but this scene was downright creepy.

The hell?

Final review: 5/5. I was originally going for a 4 but when you get a song stuck in your head for a week, it does things to you.

Up next: Grease