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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Two Winners and A Loser


Born Yesterday (1950) Is Born Again On Blu-Ray

Columbia got its licks from Washington for what Mr. Smith had done there, so was this time careful to put as much civics lesson as comedy into Born Yesterday, a defanged depict of politicians bought by loudmouth Broderick Crawford as he shacks up in DC with apparent birdbrain Judy Holliday. This was the latter's breakaway to stardom after capture of raves for the part on Broadway and being eccentric support in a handful of films (most recent and notable of these Adam's Rib). Judy and Brod share a hotel suite in Born Yesterday, big as a floor, but apparently not a bed, though it's left for us to imagine they do. Holliday was something different in realm of humor, her line readings like no one else's before or since. Director George Cukor hailed her ability to go from farce to pathos in a single shot; it's still apparent, and effective, in work she does here with both Crawford and William Holden. Death would close memory banks on a unique talent --- I remember TV listings from the 60's always reading "The Late Judy Holliday" whenever one of her pics was shown. Selling point by then might have been Holden as the egghead who educates JH and keeps us aware that US government is crystal clean despite Brod corrupting a congressman. "One bad apple" could never spoil such a splendid crop as ours in Washington, assures Bill.


The after-drama to comedy that was Born Yesterday occurred on Oscar night (3-29-51) where Judy Holliday was nominated for Best Actress. She was a guest at Jose Ferrer's party to which fellow nominee Gloria Swanson was also invited (Ferrer and Swanson were doing a Broadway revival of 20th Century together). Jose rented New York's La Zambra restaurant and had a radio hook-up with the award ceremony should any of guests cop a win. He'd been nominated for Cyrano de Bergerac, but figured Bill Holden a sure bet for Sunset Boulevard. Swanson had high hope she'd take the prize for the same film over favorite Bette Davis, whose All About Eve triumph seemed a pipe for honors. The hot wire to H'wood was for awardees to address radio listeners live from the party, Fred Astaire being airwave host. Ferrer got the Best Actor nod he'd not expected, but bigger shock by far was Judy Holliday knocking back both Bette and Gloria for coveted Actress statue. The wire photo at right tells not the real story of the winners/loser trio snapped together minutes after announcements: fact is, la Swanson was less than "Gracious" for her loss, and in fact told Judy Holliday that she was "awfully young" to have won the award, having "just started out, with a whole life and career in front of you" (GS would outlive JH by eighteen years). Gloria added that this was "my last chance" to receive such an accolade, and that now she'd miss out on rebirth as a serious actress as opposed to a personality left over from a vanished era. Still, appearances had to be maintained, thus the photo, which saw publication in hundreds of newspapers the next day.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

BORN YESTERDAY and BORN TO BE BAD. Great idea for a double feature!

8:54 AM  

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