Born Yesterday (1951)

102 or 104 mins | Comedy-drama | February 1951

Director:

George Cukor

Producer:

S. Sylvan Simon

Cinematographer:

Joseph Walker

Editor:

Charles Nelson

Production Designer:

Harry Horner

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

According to a HR news item, Judy Holliday initially refused to reprise her popular Broadway role for this film. In Sep 1947, a HR news item announced that Rita Hayworth would star in the film. A late Apr 1949 HR news item reported that Gloria Grahame was to be borrowed from RKO for the lead, and that Jean Arthur and Lana Turner had also been considered for the part. A 16 Oct 1947 HR news item stated that Columbia was negotiating with Paul Douglas to reprise his Broadway role. According to modern sources, Garson Kanin convinced Columbia studio head Harry Cohn to cast Holliday by first writing with his wife, Ruth Gordon, a part in the 1949 M-G-M film Adam's Rib particularly for her. Her performance in Adam's Rib garnered her critical acclaim and convinced Cohn of her comedic abilities. One scene which was singled out for praise by contemporary and modern critics involved a gin rummy game between "Billie" and "Harry" in which Billie quickly wins, despite enthusiastically humming the song "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and constantly rearranging her hand. In another popular scene, when Harry tries to impress Billie with his knowledge and her ignorance of words, he asks her to define "peninsula," and she retorts by calling it "the new wonder drug."
       Larry Oliver and Frank Otto also reprised their Broadway roles. A 20 Sep 1950 article in LADN reported that before filming began, the cast perfected their comic timing during six performances in front of live audiences of studio employees. Although ... More Less

According to a HR news item, Judy Holliday initially refused to reprise her popular Broadway role for this film. In Sep 1947, a HR news item announced that Rita Hayworth would star in the film. A late Apr 1949 HR news item reported that Gloria Grahame was to be borrowed from RKO for the lead, and that Jean Arthur and Lana Turner had also been considered for the part. A 16 Oct 1947 HR news item stated that Columbia was negotiating with Paul Douglas to reprise his Broadway role. According to modern sources, Garson Kanin convinced Columbia studio head Harry Cohn to cast Holliday by first writing with his wife, Ruth Gordon, a part in the 1949 M-G-M film Adam's Rib particularly for her. Her performance in Adam's Rib garnered her critical acclaim and convinced Cohn of her comedic abilities. One scene which was singled out for praise by contemporary and modern critics involved a gin rummy game between "Billie" and "Harry" in which Billie quickly wins, despite enthusiastically humming the song "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and constantly rearranging her hand. In another popular scene, when Harry tries to impress Billie with his knowledge and her ignorance of words, he asks her to define "peninsula," and she retorts by calling it "the new wonder drug."
       Larry Oliver and Frank Otto also reprised their Broadway roles. A 20 Sep 1950 article in LADN reported that before filming began, the cast perfected their comic timing during six performances in front of live audiences of studio employees. Although CBCS credits John L. Morley and Ram Singh as "Natives," no natives appeared in the viewed print. Exterior scenes were shot on location in Washington, D.C.
       On 1 Dec 1950, William H. Mooring, motion picture editor of the Catholic newspaper Tidings and syndicated columnist for numerous Catholic papers, labeled the film "clever film satire strictly from [Karl] Marx." His accusations were countered by, among others, conservative columnist Louella Parsons, reviewer William R. Weaver of MPH and Kenneth Clark of the MPPA, who stated "we feel very deeply and sincerely the picture gives warmth and positive support to the democratic ideals, principles and institutions of America." On 26 Mar 1951, HR reported that the film was picketed by the Anti-Communist Committee of the Catholic War Veterans because Holliday and Kanin were affiliated with organizations on the Attorney-General's list of subversive groups. Holliday won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of "Billie Dawn." The film also received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Costume Design (black and white). Kanin's play also served as the basis for the 1992 film Born Yesterday , directed by Luis Mandoki, and starring Melanie Griffith, John Goodman and Don Johnson. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Nov 1950.
---
Film Daily
20 Nov 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 47
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1951.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
20 Sep 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald
9 Dec 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Nov 50
pp. 590-91.
New York Times
10 Dec 1950.
---
New York Times
27 Dec 50
p. 30.
Tidings
1 Dec 1950.
---
Variety
17 Nov 50
p. 8.
Variety
6 Dec 1950.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial supv
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Sd eng
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin, as produced on the stage by Max Gordon (New York, 4 Feb 1946).
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1951
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 25 December 1950
Production Date:
15 June--12 August 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 January 1951
Copyright Number:
LP644
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
102 or 104
Length(in feet):
9,283
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14779
SYNOPSIS

Wealthy, crooked junk dealer Harry Brock arrives in Washington, D.C. with his brassy mistress, former Brooklyn showgirl Billie Dawn, and checks into a lavish hotel suite. Although he himself is crude and pushy, Billie's unrefined behavior embarrasses Harry during a meeting with Congressman Norval Hedges and his wife, and although he does love her, he considers breaking off their relationship until his lawyer, the alcoholic Jim Devery, reminds him that for tax purposes, he put his business holdings in Billie's name. Jim suggests that Harry hire someone to smooth Billie's rough edges and then marry her, because a wife cannot testify against her husband. Harry offers the job to reporter Paul Verrall, who earlier attempted to interview him. Paul readily accepts, both because he is attracted to Billie and because he hopes to discover something about Harry's operations. Later, Paul delivers some books to Billie, instructing her to circle everything that she does not understand and look up the words in the dictionary. The following day, Paul takes Billie on a tour of the capital. Billie is excited by her lessons in U.S. history, and her simple, honest enthusiasm impresses Paul. Paul's advice helps Billie to reconcile with her father, who does not approve of her relationship with Harry. Paul's disdain for Harry causes Billie to raise questions about Harry's business dealings. One day, after eavesdropping on Harry's conversation with Jim and Hedges, Billie, who with Paul's encouragement has started to express herself, asks Hedges why he puts up with Harry's bullying and points out that Harry was never elected to a position of power. Then, when Jim asks Billie to sign ... +


Wealthy, crooked junk dealer Harry Brock arrives in Washington, D.C. with his brassy mistress, former Brooklyn showgirl Billie Dawn, and checks into a lavish hotel suite. Although he himself is crude and pushy, Billie's unrefined behavior embarrasses Harry during a meeting with Congressman Norval Hedges and his wife, and although he does love her, he considers breaking off their relationship until his lawyer, the alcoholic Jim Devery, reminds him that for tax purposes, he put his business holdings in Billie's name. Jim suggests that Harry hire someone to smooth Billie's rough edges and then marry her, because a wife cannot testify against her husband. Harry offers the job to reporter Paul Verrall, who earlier attempted to interview him. Paul readily accepts, both because he is attracted to Billie and because he hopes to discover something about Harry's operations. Later, Paul delivers some books to Billie, instructing her to circle everything that she does not understand and look up the words in the dictionary. The following day, Paul takes Billie on a tour of the capital. Billie is excited by her lessons in U.S. history, and her simple, honest enthusiasm impresses Paul. Paul's advice helps Billie to reconcile with her father, who does not approve of her relationship with Harry. Paul's disdain for Harry causes Billie to raise questions about Harry's business dealings. One day, after eavesdropping on Harry's conversation with Jim and Hedges, Billie, who with Paul's encouragement has started to express herself, asks Hedges why he puts up with Harry's bullying and points out that Harry was never elected to a position of power. Then, when Jim asks Billie to sign some papers, she refuses to do so without first reading them. This so angers Harry that he hits her, and an hysterical Billie leaves the apartment. She contacts Paul, and the following day, believing Harry to be out, the two of them search Harry's room for the papers. Harry is home waiting, however, and while Billie distracts him, Paul takes the papers. Later, Harry proposes to Billie, who turns him down, explaining that she is leaving him in search of a different life. When Billie reveals that Paul has taken Harry's papers and plans to expose his nefarious dealings, Harry offers Paul money to return them. Paul is uninterested, however, and Billie offers to sign back one company a year to Harry as long as he behaves himself. Finally, Billie and Paul, who have each grown more like the other, get married. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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