Bringing up Baby

  1. Who created this message and why? What do they stand to gain by its

production – profit? Visibility?

In as much as the initial reception was heart folding, the film Bringing up Baby has received worldwide accreditation with time. Created in 1938, by film director Howard Hanks, from a short story written in the Colliers Magazine, the film is a depiction of what he was known for; integrating comedy and an intelligent story line. In the film, the director attempted to bring out an extra-ordinary mixture of cultural stereotyping and psychological romantic intrigues. This can be exemplified by the character of Alice who is depicted as being in love with the idea of David having a successful museum rather than him as a person. Perhaps on an obvious note, the director had the intention of bring out comedy at its peak where the misfortunes, which seem to follow the paleontologist in his journey to appease and impress Mrs. Random, are endless and have a funny twist of intelligence and genius in the plot making. The director brings out a sort of journey to his comedy, where every event leads to another, from the leopard running away, the dog stealing the last missing bone of the Brontosaurus, to the David and Susan being locked up in the cell mistakenly: all this, to add comic flare to the events comprising the movie. Another reason why the director would stand to gain from the film was the accreditation he would receive after being able to bring the Bringing Up Baby short story in the Collier’s magazine to a full film.

  1. How might different people understand this message differently? How might individual viewers create different meanings in media messages through interpretation?

The main ideal behind this film is intellectual comedy and such being the case it is subject to varying perceptions. For instance, there have been different interpretations and comprehensions of the word gay. The word gay is used by the professor when he accidentally loses his clothes and has to explain why he is wearing clothes that belong to Susan. In the period when the movie was produced, the term was implied to mean happy but decades down the line, the term is a direct representation of homosexual inclinations. The director is most likely trying to indicate that the culture of homo-sexualism was pronounced then to a point it would be subject of hilarious intrigues or it was beyond reality and its mention was comical. Another message that can be perceived with varied ideas in the screwball-comic nature of the movie is the notion of wealthy people going through misfortunes and their lives being in utter chaos as a result of the interference of an ordinary person. In this case, the wealthy people were not very amused in comparison to the ordinary citizens who would find the movie as a comical release. In the movie, Professor David in able to cause chaos in the lives of Mrs. Random and Susan, even though it is unintentional in most cases.

  1. Other than entertainment, why is this message being sent? What economic or political factors or contexts might be important in the construction or interpretation of this media?

In the relevant time context that this film was created, the other message that the film is likely to send is that of social stratification. The film was released in the 1930s, when the screwball comedies were at their peak. The screwball comedies mainly involved the apparent flawless world of the wealthy being hit by shambles due to interference by an ordinary or poor citizen. The social-economic status and differentiation was sneered at and made fun of in this film. In addition, the director’s inclusion of the gay joke is indicative of the distance that the society then associated homosexuals with reality, thus the hilarious nature of the idea. From the director’s previous works like A Girl In Every Port, he can be termed as personnel smuggler in the sense he smuggles his personal opinions regarding the homosexual behavior into the film. Lastly, the movie can be seen to reflect the materialistic and status-quo mindsets that women were embracing in relationships. This is depicted by Alice who from the start is keener on her fiancé finding the missing bone and finishing the construction of the brontosaurus than the planned pre and post wedding plans. This is a social critique on the role of women in relationships in advent of the intellectualism and professionalism women were embracing at that time.


The film was not received with positive appraisal at the time but as the years moved on there was corresponding positive interest in the film. The ultimate result was the film gaining royalties, awards as well as accreditation as one of the best screwball comedies ever produced. The intellectual twist and comical flare brings out the film as one before its time, judging by the fiction the director was able to attain. There are numerous messages that are passed – as seen previously – among them the social stratification and the state of gay idealism in that period.



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