sexta-feira, 15 de junho de 2012

Fear of Leopards

     Howard Hawks had a unique taste in women. He admired women that could be on the same level as men, that could be "one of the boys", that could swear and smoke without losing their femininity. In all of his movies, is that delicious battle of the sexes between a "macho" and a strong, independent female that keeps the audience on their toes. From "Only Angels Have Wings" (1939) to "The Big Sleep" (1946), there are lots of examples of that ongoing man vs. woman struggle.
    One movie that falls out of the category, however, is "Bringing Up Baby" (1938). In the movie, Cary Grant plays paleontologist David Huxley who needs to convince a rich lady to donate a million dollars to his museum. During a golf game with the woman's lawyer, he accidentally runs into the aloof Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn), marking the start of the hysterically absurd situations in the film, which reminds the spectator of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream".
     Although David makes it pretty clear at the beginning that he doesn't want "any woman interfering in my affairs! It's fatal!”, the non-stoppable Susan chases him until he's convinced to come to her house, thinking Susan is being attacked by a leopard sent by her brother. David rushes to her apartment only to find himself trapped in one of her charming feminine tricks. He then has to accompany Susan to deliver the leopard at her aunt's house in Connecticut.
     During the trip, Baby (the leopard) eats the car seats, gooses and pounds of raw steak. He's "gentle as a kitten" and loves hearing the song "I Can't Give You Anything But Love". He is sort of a wild child. Much like Susan, who sees no bound and does everything to get what she wants, even if it takes being "animalistic". There are a few hidden references to the connection between Susan and the leopard, like the polka dot dresses she wears throughout the picture. At one point, Susan says "Don't be silly, David, you can't make a leopard stand still.", which can be referred either to her nature or to the real leopard that's gone missing.
      The aspect that differs this movie from others directed by Howard Hawks is that the woman is the one in control in this picture. The man just follows her around and spends the whole movie, literally, looking for "his bone" (the last missing piece of his brontosaurus skeleton), just like a dog. The constant fear that David has of Baby eating the family dog George can be compared to his fear of Susan taking over his "pants".
      Meanwhile, an untamed circus leopard is being taken to execution. The characters mistake it from Baby and let it escape. Now there are two leopards and one dog on the loose! Close to the movie's ending, Susan's persistence leads her to capturing the wild leopard, unaware of its aggressiveness. David, who now knows about the confusion, shows his "hero" and manly side for the first time and saves Susan by shooing the animal into a jail cell. From that we can infer that while Baby represents the free, exotic Susan and George represents the methodical David, the untamed leopard can also be a metaphor for David's closeted savage side.
     Curiously enough, in the letter sent by Susan's brother it is written that Baby "likes dogs". Susan adds: "I don't know whether he eats dogs or is fond of them". But in the end, the "leopard" was just fond of the "dog", and, like critic Pauline Kael wrote: "No paleontologist ever got hold of a more beautiful set of bones".

(esse é um texto que fiz para uma application de uma faculdade. Não fui aceita, mas o texto ficou.)

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