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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Favorite Filmmakers | George Cukor

The series continues with Kate Hepburn's favorite and the so called 'director to the women stars', George Cukor! You can read the previous installment of this series here


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GEORGE CUKOR (1899 - 1983)

George Cukor was a pretty wonderful director - even if he was against casting Lucy in Born Yesterday (and okay, fine, the movie was awesome and Judy Holliday was fantastic, but isn't everything made better with a dash of Lucy?). So, I present to you six favorite Cukor films, discounting the movies he worked on but was not properly credited for (like Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz).


THE WOMEN | 1939 | Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard

You can actually read my review of this movie here. I actually didn't like this movie as much as I thought I would, but then you should know that I was expecting this to be a five star film. I thought some things were over the top about it, and it dragged a little too long, but over all I had to include this movie on this list because it's the prime example of why Cukor was THE premiere women's director. I have to give this movie credit for having an incredible, all star female cast (perhaps the best to date; but then there is Stage Door...) in a era which people consider male dominated. (Besides that list up there, you also have the supporting talents of Marjorie Main, Ruth Hussey, the fabulous child actress Virginia Weildler - the kid sister in The Philadelphia Story - and appearances by Hedda Hopper & Butterfly McQueen). So how can I not include this film on the list??!! You can read more about the fabulous performances in this movie (primarily Roz) in my review. It is a pretty good movie and fits well in with the year of 1939.


THE PHILADELPHIA STORY | 1940 | Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart

Okay, so really, what can I say about this movie that hasn't been said already? I can't really think of anything, except this is really cinema at some of its best, and if you haven't seen it yet you've really been depriving yourself. This is the cinematic masterpiece that conjoined the talents of three of my all-time favorite people (and three of the most fabulous actors in Hollywood): Kate, Cary, and Jimmy. This is the movie that won Jimmy Stewart the Oscar. This is the movie that won Kate the hearts of audiences - this was the film that she made after years of being called "box office poison", swearing to come back with a hit and she did. THIS. I can't imagine that you wouldn't know the plot, but basically C.K Dexter Haven (aka Cary), Tracy Lord (Kate)'s ex-husband, and a tabloid reporter (Jimmy) and his photographer (Ruth Hussey) show up for Tracy's second marriage, trouble ensues. Real trouble. Also, Virginia Weildler again! I'm sorry, but am I the only who who finds her kind of fabulous? I realize now I've seen her in all sorts of films. Anyways, if you haven't seen this one yet pull yourself out from underneath your rock and go see it. Now. 


A WOMAN'S FACE | 1941 | Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas

I have actually experienced three versions of this movie: the film in question, the original 1938 Swedish movie with Ingrid Bergman, and a radio program with Bette Davis. Out of all three, I have to admit to liking this one best, even though Ingrid is like my second favorite actress and I love her to bits and pieces. But this movie really clicked in all the right places for me, and tied up the loose ends that the Swedish version didn't, and Joan was actually pretty fabulous in the role. This movie is basically about a young woman named Anna Holm who was burned in a fire that killed her parents, and now her pretty face is left with an ugly scar, and she has turned herself against the world. Melvyn Douglas is the plastic surgeon that gives her another chance at life, but Conrad Veidt has other plans for Anna that would restore her to her life of crime. This 1941 American version also takes place in Sweden. It was on Youtube, but unfortunately it got deleted, but if you do happen to come across it, I highly recommend you watch it, you'd be surprised; it's kind of the black sheep on my list. 


GASLIGHT | 1944 | Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Angela Lansbury

Okay, so The Philadelphia Story and this movie are pretty much battling it out for my favorite film on the list. The other day, Bette asked me what my favorite Ingrid performance was and it basically came down to this and Notorious. This whole movie is just about near perfect, okay? I love EVERYTHING about it and am trying to get my friend to watch it just so I can see it again (she kind of loves Isabella Rossellini - long story - because of me, and I'm easing her into Ingrid now). So Ingrid plays Paula Alquist, basically forced to move into the house her aunt was killed in by her new husband, played by Charles Boyer. But he's keeping a secret, and in order to cover up this lie of his, he goes to all sorts of measures that result in Paula beginning to go insane. Angela Lansbury plays the sassy maid who flirts brazenly with Charles Boyer's character, and she doesn't make matters any better. Ingrid won her first Oscar for this, and it's so well deserved! Really, I just adore everything about her performance in here, no one could play a beautiful-lady-who-was-in-love-but-is-now-losing-everything-and-might-be-going-mad better than her. Some people say she was a little "over the top" in this, but I could never agree and positively beg to differ. She's just fabulous in this, okay? I love it all, the darting eyes and the classic Ingrid screaming, just perfect. Oh, and Charles Boyer and Angela Lansbury were pretty darn good, too. Also, doesn't this film have just one of the best, best endings ever? "Are you suggest this is a knife, my husband? Have you gone mad? Shall we try it and see?"


ADAM'S RIB | 1949 | Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday

I've mentioned this before, but anyways, I'll say it again: it's pretty much either this or Woman of the Year for favorite Kate & Spence movie for me; and I've seen them all! Basically, Judy Holliday shoots her cheating, chauvinistic husband when she catches him with his mistress. He didn't die, but she's sent to court. Kate and Spence play Adam and Amanda Bonner, husband-and-wife-lawyers who are perfectly happy until Amanda defends  Judy's character and Adam her husband. Obviously, things aren't so smooth after that. I don't know if I've ever said this, but I have this real fascination with court scenes in movies, I always enjoy them as long as they're played well - I love the drama and I love it when there are clever lawyers involved. This is probably one of the best examples of that type of a movie. The acting is, of course, top notch.We would all expect Kate and Spence to be amazing. Judy Holliday, despite going on to win an Oscar, is pretty underrated and I can't understand why because she's a great actress and I always enjoy her performances. Anyways, bottom line is, this is a pretty fantastic movie. 


BORN YESTERDAY | 1950 | Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford

So I've done a review of this movie, too. Broderick Crawford hires bookish William Holden to teach his apparently "dumb blond" lover, Judy Holliday, to be smart. All sorts of hilarious outcomes occur when Billie (Judy) proves to be a little too smart, and learns what a real scumbag her tycoon lover is, and starts to fall for William Holden. This was the movie that won Judy the Oscar, and as I mentioned back up there, I don't understand why she isn't appreciated enough because she really is a great actress. So, so, so funny in this. Everything about the character was spot on and just right and I couldn't keep laughing, plenty of hilarious scenes mostly involving Judy. Just a really great performance, to be put simply. She was so great that I can even forgive Lucy not being cast, because at least this came out of it. William Holden is also pretty cute in this nerdy character that was a step or two away from what he usually does, and Broderick Crawford played the indignant tycoon fantastically. He and Judy have great rapport, especially in a scene where the play a game of gin.

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Once more, I trimmed that list and left out other really great movies like My Fair Lady (1964), The Actress (1953),  Holiday (1938), and Pat and Mike (1952). Oh, and if you're wondering about Camille (1936), I haven't seen it yet, and no, it's not because I have some kind of a Garbo boycott going on. I just want to read the book first, and it's only to-be-read list, right after I get through a collection of three James Cain novels. (All of the great film noirs I've already seen on screen, but so much fun to read in print!)

But anyways, Cukor did all sorts of great movies, didn't he? I mean there are other films, too - ones he wasn't credited for, so I had to leave them out.

Okay as usual, please, bloggers, check out the blogathon I'm co-hosting. I'm going to keep advertising this all the way up onto the blogathon, it's never too late to join in! And remember, you don't have to think of a film right now - I still haven't!!!

12 comments:

Lasso The Movies said...

George Cukor is one of the greatest directors ever. His comedies are always among my favorites. I've never seen A Woman's Face, but it looks great. Thanks for the great post on one of my all time favorites.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Hi Rianna-

I'm Bud from the blog Sunday Stealing (http://sundaystealing.blogspot.com). Every week we rip a meme off someone's blog. Today we chose one of yours from December of 2011. We give you full credit and link back to your blog. The great thing is that a lot of previous "victims" such as yourself have become regular players! We usually publish the blog between 1 and 3 PM EDT Saturday. We usually get between 40 to 60 people who play and comment on each others responses. And a lot of our players are previous victims of our theft like you! We hope you play along in the weeks to come! Thank you and have a great day...

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LĂȘ said...

George Cukor was certainly a great female director. Last week I watched a cool film directed by him, A Double Life, for which Ronald Colman won the Oscar. I'm becoming more and more a fan of Ronald's work.
I have already watched Camille but I also bought the book to read it. Now I just have to find time to do it!
Kisses!

Kristen said...

Adore Adam's Rib and the Philadelphia Story. Have to watch Born Yesterday and The Women but considering how much I seem to enjoy Cukor's work already, I have high hopes for them!

Rianna said...

Exactly, Cukor was wonderful. Definitely check out A Woman's Face when you get the opportunity. The Swedish version wasn't as good in my opinion but it's worth checking out as it's one of Ingrid's earlier roles and fun to watch.

Rianna said...

Will check it out, thanks for letting me know

Rianna said...

Will have to check it out. I've only seen Ronald Colman in Random Harvest, but it was a really great performance and its one of my favorite films. And I can't wait to read Camille, its a slim read so I'll probably get around to watching Camille by the end of the summer!

Rianna said...

The Women isn't a favorite favorite but it was still really good; I did like Born Yesterday better, however. They're both great though so I hope you check them out!

dfordoom said...

A Woman's Face is a great little movie. Very underrated.

Sofia said...

I'm ashamed to say I've only watched The Philadelphia Story! And I loved it, one of my all-time favorites. All those films looks splendid, though, so I'll be taking a little a note to remember them.

Also, I chose you as one the bloggers to pass the Liebster Award to, Rianna. It's slightly different from the one you already have, it comes with questions and such.
Here: http://filmflare.blogspot.pt/2012/07/blog-award.html

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James Brannan said...

Mr. Cukor is my favorite director. He did direct some wonderful pictures. I like what you wrote about him. This is a fine, interesting article. I enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

By the way, I would like to invite you to join my blogathon, "The Great Breening Blogathon:" https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/extra-the-great-breening-blogathon/. It is celebrating the life and work of Joseph Breen, the enforcer of the Motion Picture Production Code between 1934 and 1954. As we honor his birthday, which is on October 14, we will be discussing and analyzing the Code era, breening films from other eras, and writing about our own ideas for classic movies. One doesn't have to agree with the Code and Mr. Breen to enjoy that! I hope you will do me the honor of joining. We could really use your talent!

Yours Hopefully,

Tiffany Brannan

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