Cary Grant is a straightlaced paleontologist about to be married to a woman even morestraightlaced than he. His life flies into pieces when he runs into the flighty socialite KatharineHepburn. Falling instantly in love, Hepburn does all she can to keep Grant nearby, no matter theconsequences, and she embroils him in the task of bringing a leopard named Baby to heraunt’s country estate.
What follows is every conceivable (and even some inconceivable) sort of misunders…anding,and Grant descends helplessly (but very entertainingly) into a vortex of chaos. Hepburn is elegantbeyond measure, and though at first you think you might want to strangle her, her blithe, innocentsadism very quickly becomes most endearing. Charlie Ruggles also puts in very funny turn asa cowardly big-game hunter. Director Howard Hawks’ trademark overlapping dialogue is frontand centre, and this in no small way contributes to the film’s lightning pace.
The sound is a good, solid, clean mono. The vintage we’re talking here is 1938, so someminor distortion is understandable. Whatever minor flaws there are in the sound reproduction donot interfere with the clarity of the dialogue, however.
The print is in decent shape, but a more thorough restoration would have been welcome.Granted the film is an old one, but there is still a bit more grain and (sometimes) speckling thanthere need be. Some shots are noticeably more damaged than others. That said, the overall imageis clear and clean.
Director/film historian Peter Bogdanovich, a man whose love for films of this period is clearfrom his own output, does the honours with a commentary that serves as an excellent guidethrough the film. Disc 1 also has trailers for five Hawks films. Disc 2 has an 87-minutedocumentary Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Less complete is The Men Who Made theMovies: Howard Hawks. Just under an hour long, this feature couldn’t hope to becomprehensive, but it does skip over some pretty significant entries in the Hawks filmography(where is The Thing?). Also included is the short “Campus Cinderella” (in colour) andthe cartoon “A Star is Hatched.” Decent extras, but other than Bogdanovich’s commentary, thereisn’t that much about the feature itself. The menu’s main screen is scored.
The word “classic” gets thrown around a lot, but this is a comedy that definitely deservesthe appellation. There is room for improvement in the package, but it certainly shouldn’t besneezed at, either.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Cary Grant: A Class Apart” Documentary
- “The Men Who Made the Movies: Howard Hawks” Documentary
- “Campus Cinderella” Short Feature
- “A Star Is Hatched” Cartoon