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BRINGING UP BABY: A MASTER CLASS ON BLU-RAY

The Criterion Collection has done it again: its treatment of the celebrated  1938 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby offers a feast of fresh material to sink your teeth into. There’s a German-made interview documentary with Howard Hawks filmed in 1977, a year before he died… Peter Bogdanovich’s audio interview with the director from 1972, as well as a commentary that Bogdanovich recorded in 2005…a superlative video essay about Cary Grant by his biographer, Scott Eyman…an informative overview of cinematographer Russell Metty’s career by fellow cameraman John Bailey…an eye-opening exploration of Linwood Dunn’s visual effects by Craig Barron…a knowledgeable look at Howard Greer’s costumes by expert Shelly Foote…a keen-eyed essay about the movie by film critic Sheila O’Malley… the original short story by Hagar Wilde that appeared in Collier’s magazine in 1937, revealing the origins of the screenplay she wrote with Dudley Nichols…and the piece de resistance, a 1969 q&a session recorded at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in which Cary Grant provides a candid, charmingly self-deprecating view of his career and this film in particular.



The Grant exchange with members of the audience is worth the price of admission alone. That’s not to belittle the other valuable contributions; it’s just that Grant was a rare presence on television talk shows and I’ve never heard him open up as he does here.

As for the Wilde story, it’s fascinating that a studio reader saw so much potential in it. It’s amusing, to be sure, but I don’t know if I would have sensed the possibilities in it—unlike the magazine stories that inspired All About Eve and Sweet Smell of Success, also republished by Criterion, which are virtual blueprints for those classic films.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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