I always feel like I’m missing something when I watch a movie by one of the Great Classic Hollywood Auteur Directors like Hawks. But I didn’t worry about it much this time… worried instead about the mild sexual undertones of a movie where the leading man is helping search for the leading woman’s kitty, while she is helping search for his bone. No wonder they fall in love completely unprovoked in the final scene.
Grant is a timid professor working on his dinosaur skeleton, engaged to marry an uptight girl, and Hepburn is a completely free, intelligent but breezily unaware-acting rich socialite determined to keep Grant occupied enough that he can’t get married. They were both wonderful in this, and the writing is super, and it’s a joy to watch, but as Katy pointed out, it’s a little TOO screwball. Grant stutters nervously and Hepburn talks over everybody and there’s just no stopping or even slowing down. It’s a blessing that there’s no incidental music cluttering up the soundtrack further. So it’s a bit tiring to watch, but still a magnificent comedy.
IMDB says the movie was a flop, and Hawks and Hepburn both lost jobs because of it. A missed reference to The Awful Truth, and I can’t believe neither Katy nor I noticed that George was the same dog as Mr. Smith in that movie. Grant and Hepburn were both terrific, and Charlie Ruggles (again playing a major) was funnier than in the Lubitsch pictures. Also good: a monocled german named Fritz (Fritz Feld played bit character parts in hundreds of movies) and Aunt Random (80 year old May Robson). Among the Hawksian favorite themes (via Senses of Cinema) found in the movie: nicknaming (KH starts calling CG Mr. Bone), screwing with gender conventions (KH has the more masculine, take-charge character) and social norms.
Wikipedia says it was (arguably) the “first work of fiction, aside from pornography, to use the word gay in a homosexual context.”
Didn’t learn a terrible lot from P.Bog’s audio commentary, but gained a greater appreciation for the movie just by watching (actually listening) to it again, with Peter going on about how great everything is. One gem: “It’s easier to watch on a big screen because you see it bigger.”