Review - The Philadelphia Story/ Bringing Up Baby
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Bringing Up Baby/ The Philadelphia Story (DVD-2006)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Daniel Severin

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made a great screen team. The two best films they made together, Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story, have just received the deluxe treatment on DVD from Warner Home Video. Each DVD is a two-disc set loaded with extras that make them must-owns!

The 1938 film Bringing Up Baby is seen today as one of the funniest movies ever made, but on its release it flopped. The fast pace may have confused audiences. In only 30 minutes, Grant goes from restoring a dinosaur skeleton and quarrelling with his fiancée to running after a lawyer across a golf course, chasing spoiled heiress Hepburn, and driving to
Connecticut with Kate and the leopard Baby. Baby was the first of five collaborations between Grant and director Howard Hawks, according to the humorous, fact-filled audio commentary by Peter Bogdanovich. The film cemented Grant's screen image and, sadly, reinforced the view of Hepburn as Box Office Poison.

Disc two of the set is all extras. The acclaimed documentary “Cary Grant: A Class Apart” examines the career and appeal of the last true movie star. Another hour-long documentary explores the career of innovative director Howard Hawks, whose career spanned 40 years and produced countless cinema classics. Check out the Hawks trailer gallery and you'll see what I mean!

After Bringing Up Baby bombed at the box office, Katharine Hepburn left the movies for the bright lights of Broadway. Philip Barry's play The Philadelphia Story was a perfect vehicle for Kate and became a big hit. Seeing it as her ticket back to movie stardom, she got Howard Hughes to buy the movie rights for her, and the rest is history. Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, a naïve society woman about to marry a politician. James Stewart won a Best Actor Oscar for playing Mike Connor, a tabloid reporter who teaches Tracy about life, love, and social class.

This sophisticated comedy was brilliantly opened up for the movies by director George Cukor and a talented cast and crew. According to film historian Jeanine Basinger's audio commentary on The Philadelphia Story, the classic opening sequence that is so often excerpted was Cukor's idea. The silent movie-like clash between Kate and Cary alludes to the couple's divorce without dampening the film's spirit.

The new Philadelphia Story DVD has lots of extras. Besides the commentary, a documentary traces Cukor's lengthy film career. The compelling 90-minute program “Katharine Hepburn: All About Me” features the legendary star discussing her work and sharing home movies with her fans. Shorts on the disc present a zeitgeist of 1940s cinema, and a host of trailers prove just how many great movies George Cukor made.

I'll admit, I'm a bit biased when it comes to these movies. Bringing Up Baby is my second favorite film of all time, and I am ecstatic it's finally on DVD. I also love Cukor movies, but even without all the extras, these two films are worth buying as great romantic comedies from
Hollywood's Golden Age.



© 2006 Daniel Severin/Celluloid Dreams



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