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"There is a leopard on your roof and it’s my leopard and I have to get it and to get it I have to sing."
Milquetoast paleontologist David Huxley (Grant) is about to be married and is only missing one piece of his Brontosaurus skeleton (the "intercostal clavicle"). The night before his wedding, he's supposed to butter up a rich widow's lawyer so she'll donate a million dollars to the museum. Things take a rapid turn for the worse, though, when he meets scatterbrained heiress Susan Vance (Hepburn), who accidentally steals his golf ball, and then his car, preventing him from finishing the meeting. After the evening ends with Susan braining the lawyer with a rock, David vows that he never wants to see her again.
The next morning, Susan calls David on the telephone. Her brother in South America has mailed her a tame leopard called Baby, and she enlists David to help her transport it to her aunt's farm. Then, having made up her mind that David is the man she's going to marry--though he doesn't know it yet--she does whatever comes to mind to keep him there. It turns out that Susan's aunt is the potential museum donor, so they have to conceal David's identity and the presence of Baby, while also hunting for the intercostal clavicle, snatched up and buried by the dog.
Then Baby escapes, and so does a man-eating leopard from the circus, leading to several cases of mistaken identity as multiple groups of people go leopard-hunting in the forests of Connecticut. Everyone ends up in jail (briefly), David's fiancee rejects him, and the dinosaur skeleton is destroyed, but David confesses his love for Susan at last, and the movie ends with their happy, if still scatterbrained, embrace.
- Absent-Minded Professor: David is one of these.
- Annoying Laugh: Susan, though some might consider it cute.
- Cardboard Prison: David casually exits his jail cell when he gets exasperated listening to Susan babble at the constable. He even briefly gets the constable to join him back in his cell, before the cop realizes what has happened and has the cell locked up for real this time.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Doesn't even begin to describe Susan. She spends most of the movie perpendicular to reality.
- Dinosaur Doggie Bone: Possibly the Trope Maker.
- Disposable Fiance: Alice, who isn't even present for most of the film.
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Susan's bathrobe, that David is forced to wear after his clothes are ruined.
- Grande Dame: Elizabeth Random, Susan Vance's aunt who displays little tolerance for David Huxley, but who is eccentric enough to want her own leopard.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Averted. Cary Grant's improvised line "I just went GAY all of a sudden!" may have been the first intentional use of the word to mean "homosexual" in mainstream film.
- Doubles as Hilarious in Hindsight, as Cary Grant is rumored to have been bisexual. We're pretty sure he had a thing with Rock Hudson.
- Henpecked Husband: David manages to be this even before he is married. After Alice, even Susan must come as something of a relief.
- Herr Doktor: The psychiatrist.
- High-Class Glass: The psychiatrist.
- Humiliation Conga: David for most of the film.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Katherine Hepburn's character, one of the earliest examples of this character type in film. (Nathan Rabin, creator of the term, calls her the Trope Maker, although Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey is actually an earlier example).
- Meet Cute
- Misplaced Wildlife: Baby is from South America, which is jaguar territory, and is played by a jaguar despite the dialogue.
- Mistaken Identity: Mistaken leopard identity.
- Motor Mouth: Susan, to the end.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast
- The Pratfall: David slips on an olive Susan dropped and falls really hard on his butt.
- Romantic Comedy
- Shout-Out: When asked whom he pulled a criminal job with, David says "Mickey the Mouse and Donald the Duck."
- Susan also tells the police that David is really 'Jerry the Nipper'; this was the nickname of Cary Grant's character in his previous film The Awful Truth. David lampshades this by protesting that Susan is making everything up out of movies she's seen.
- Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying: There is no such thing as an intercostal clavicle. There can be no such thing as an intercostal clavicle. "Intercostal" means "Between the ribs", and the clavicle connects the rib cage to the shoulder girdle.
- Science Marches On: The clavicle in question comes from a brontosaurus, which is now recognized by the scientific community as Apatosaurus.
- Stalker with a Crush: Susan.
- Uptight Loves Wild