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At the dinomovies: "On the Town" versus "Bringing Up Baby"



I will never forget seeing, at JHU, the marvelous climatic scene in the 
classic 1939 screwball comedy "Bringing Up Baby" (widely considered the Acme of 
the 
genre) when the enormous AMNH Brontosaurus skeleton, just completed with the 
insertion of the intercostal clavicle on the dorsal series, collapses beneath 
the ditzy socialite played by Katherine Hepburn as she says "Oh my" dangling 
in the air held by her new paleontologist fiance played by Grant in his 
favorite role. 

Ten years later another classic comedy, "On the Town," a Gene Kelly/Frank 
Sinatra musical also set and in this case actually filmed in New York, starts 
with a trio of sailors singing the great Loenard Bernstein "New York, New York" 
as they disembark on 24 hour leave from a Fletcher class destroyer in the 
Brooklyn naval yard in search of the sights by which I mean of the babe kind if 
you 
know what I mean. Before you know it the oversexed rascals are at the world 
famous Museum of Anthropology where they come across another faux Hollywood 
mounted skeleton based on Camarasaurus. It too collapses due to the 
unauthorized 
hi-jinks of the trio in association with the two dames -- err, women -- they 
encounter, one of whom is a surprisingly skilled dancing anthropoligist don't 
you know it. This wanton destruction of city property contributes to all sorts 
of troubles as the gang and their girls -- err women -- flee the police across 
Manhattan, back into Brooklyn and down to Conie Island in order to serve 
justice for the loss of the invaluable dinosaur. 

I long knew about "Bringing Up Baby," but had no idea that the other great NY 
comedy flick also involved a collapsing sauropod skeleton. One wonders of the 
creators of the latter, which was based on a Broadway play, did it 
deliberately as a homage. Of the two the BUB scene is the better, the skeleton 
is much 
larger and its collapse more giddily spectacular. 

Of course, as I am sure you remember, BUB (the baby being a pet 
jaguar/leopard) is the first movie in which the term gay is used to refer to 
sexual 
orientation. The Grant character is compelled to wear a woman's fluffy bathrobe 
due 
to the scheming designs of the Hepburn character. When he answers the door at 
her family's Connecticut estate a startled elderly women asks why he is wearing 
the robe and he exclaims "because I've suddenly decided to go gay!" Grant as 
paleontologist, Hepburn at her most gorgeous, a friendly big cat, the collapse 
of a giant dinosaur skeleton, and socio-sexual tolerance. What else can one 
ask for? 

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