Some thoughts on "Bringing Up Baby"

Avneet Sharma: If Justice League is any indication, we'll probably see a lot more male characters you like. Cary Grant in that movie never really gets a handle on Katharine Hepburn... his saying he's in love with her in the end almost comes as an act of self-defence, a defensive spell cast, making it seem as if he's got a handle on everything she can apply onto him (a wild pretence!). For momentarily she is induced into being grateful, or playing being grateful, that is, as if she was at his mercy, his control: and this is a predictable routine, required on her part so that she's not just a phallic woman but a feminine one at source, that gives him a moment where he knows exactly what he'll have to face with her; he can relax. It's a funny thing in this movie. I'm sure the idea is that Cary Grant is supposed to actually need Katharine Hepburn/Susan, for she's the wild, the sex, he's not going to get in his married life with his due wife. But the movie doesn't play out this way in actuality. From the start, his upcoming marriage is about a career of peace and stability, with her (Alice, his determined and stern due wife) the guardian of it, more than anything else. We never have a sense, really, other than his questioning about lack of sex and lack of babies (which is not a big admittance, given that he never in the movie seems one to want to stick to an act of command more than momentarily), that he wouldn't be content with that. He's got stability, and she's the formidable shield that'll keep away all intruders (which is, incidentally, the married life the sex-addict John Updike wished for and got with his second wife... just by the by.) If this sounds horrible to you, just imagine you're a Depression age individual watching a film where the ostensible despised state is someone promised that -- stability, with a fierce shield of a woman protecting it -- rather than a merry-go-round life with an unpredictable nutter, who's a source of instability to the guarantee that any act you initiate will go as planned (sound like Depression life, anyone?)... any act, including ensuring that one step you take follows another as planned, rather than it being subverted to your somehow falling on your ass, and who can only be waylaid, or perceived as perhaps being somewhat waylaid/managed, if you've got a quip ready each and every time she interrupts your nervous system's plans for initiated synapse to actually follow through with its ostensibly inevitable predetermined follow through.

About Justice League... yeah, this spot Cary Grant finds himself in is basically where each character other than Superman is with Wonder Woman. It's the idea behind there being so many male members of the team... the load can get distributed, so Aquaman can feel the relief after he gets subverted against course by her in knowing he's not due for another round for awhile... now's for Cyborg to feel not like a spy but a caught-out perv, and impossible-to-catch Flash to feel like an infant swaddled in arms, however ostensibly gleeful about it, and Batman to feel like a leader who's stuck in dated ways so has to relent to ....

I will say, though, that the extended scene where Cary Grant finds himself at dinner is something Susan leads him to that is an empowering treat for him: he's constantly interrupting people's talk to get up and chase after that dog... who's his lead to the lost dinosaur bone. Amidst the matron at the table and the ostensibly patriarchal big-game hunter, he never loses the ability to keep in mind his original purpose, which is abstract to this Alice-in-Wonderland turnabout in his life, and can be imagined vicariously enjoying his ability to so readily unsettle his fellow dinner guests' expectations of him... play the part of Susan, for awhile, in a sense. Susan set this up, but he can pretend he's in on it too. Two wild agents, rationally causing what amounts to disturbed expectations, chaos, for others.

So maybe the end would be more satisfying is if somehow an ideal could be constructed. His due wife Alice would remain with him as a shield, a protection against inanity and intrusion, and Susan would be equipped as a weapon, something he could unleash against others if his shield failed him and he found himself amongst domestic types -- mothers and fathers -- and domestic situations he has no business as an adult falling back into. She's great for that kind of dire emergency... absolute chaos for use and cover. As an analogy, Susan is first caught site of what the war will soon offer Americans... humiliating, un-manning adult reliance on the like of welfare and parental support to survive, has to meet with what war will confront it with in its requiring the instant subversion of estimations of men as assured dependents, into their surely being something else entirely -- warriors who can ride the war wind.


Popular posts from this blog

Full conversation about "Bringing Up Baby" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Review of "the Snowman"