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Classic Movie Characters: Susan Vance

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Played by Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby.

Can someone just throw David Huxley (Cary Grant) a bone? No, really. All the scientist wants is that last piece for his dinosaur and $1 million from a dinosaur of a dowager to support his museum. Then he can marry his uptight fiancée. Instead, he meets the irrepressible Susan, who annoys, embarrasses, and then, of course, captivates him. Susan is one of the first (and the best) of the Screen Savers, those screwball heroines who show their men the joy of escaping a dead-end job, a bitchy girlfriend, or the general ennui of life without, well, them.

Defining Moment: As they chase after an excruciatingly yappy terrier who has buried David’s prize bone, Susan exclaims, “Isn’t this fun, David? Just like a game.” Her face is filled with glee. We realize that life is a game to her—and that David should start playing as soon as possible.

1938.  Directed Howard Hawks.