Paul Malikkal

Review

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Paul Malikkal

Not unlike The Lady Eve, this is a comedy of dualisms: David Huxley and David Bone, the tamed leopard and the wild leopard, the cold Alice and the vivacious Susan.It could purely be a coincidence that two films from the same era, in the same sub-genre of comedy use doubling and juxtaposition to develop theme, but perhaps these are dualistic films because they're both films about love and love is a dualistic emotion. Alice looks forward to her unobtrusive, frictionless marriage with David, which will allow him to focus almost entirely on his work. In other words, she only wants one side of the duality. She only wants Baby, the tame leopard. But in chasing that leopard, you inevitably have to face its untamed, vicious counterpart. And when Susan pulls in that fierce, dangerous animal into the police station for the man she loves, she's accepting both sides of love, the pain, and the pleasure. Throughout their day together, David frequently remarks about how he "isn't himself today." He can't bear to be recognized as the respected paleontologist he's known as at the museum. Yet no matter how unpleasant he grows, Susan can't help but adore him. And might that be what love is: loving someone's worst self along with their best self? Loving the untamed leopard along with the tamed one?

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