The two main protagonists Susan and David are
portrayed by actress Katharine Hepburn and actor Cary Grant playing against type in a classic "conflict" of the sexes: a mad-cap, scheming, aggressive, impulsive, accident-prone and daffy society heiress, and a bumbling, clumsy, absent-minded, straight, nerdy and stuffy paleontologist from a natural history museum.( Dirks)
It is these against type characters that see Bringing Up Baby deviate from the supposed trajectory of films of this era. It is important to remember the historical timing of this film; the 1930's was time between two world wars, shortly after the Great Depression and only 18 years after national women's suffrage had been granted in the US. The film is widely credited with being the first, obvious and blatant time the word gay was ever used in the context of homosexuality.i When the film was released, its failure at the box office led to Hepburn having to buy her way out of her contract and Hawks ( the director ) being sacked from RKOii . A number of film critics attribute the failure of the film due to the fact that it was way before it's timeiii.
The scene in which this essay concentrates is when Susan and David embark on their slapstick hunt for 'George', the dog responsible for the stealing and supposed burying of David's precious bone and ' Baby' the leopard. As a dog barks in the distance David shouts with excitement "that's a dog" and the two scramble after the sound into a dense bush. Often the typical romantic comedy is said to revolve around the improbability of the love match between the two main protagonists and certainly, at first glance this scene appears to follow the formula. The ensuing chase through the woods is full of misdoings by Susan and the consequences, normally negative that fall on David. However this is where the scene on closer examination begins to deviate from the normal formula applicable to romantic comedy and hint of a hidden depth below the surface.
To begin with David assumes what we could consider to be the stronger male position, persuading Susan to keep back as they crawl through the bush with a "let me go first" for fear that Susan might get hurt- whilst simultaneously allowing all the branches from the bushes to hit her on the face. However when Susan, shortly afterwards is trapped by poison ivy, David refuses to rescue her citing that his fianc, a Miss Swallow, would be unlikely to get herself trapped in such a situation- rejecting Susan, who is seemingly pretends not to notice David's apparent dislike for her. Throughout the next scenes dealt with by this essay he repeatedly rejects, puts down and protests Susan, he is also relatively rude to her telling her to "shut up" and speaks harshly to her on a number of occasions.
There are a number of interesting reviews and theories that point to this part of the film in considering to what extent this film deviates from standard trajectories of male dominated courtship patterns. The male dominated courtship pattern in films, particularly of this era often see's the male protagonist as strong, self assured confident, able to provide for the weaker and less self assured women. In Bringing up Baby we see a clear role reversal with