Directed by Fred Zinneman
Written by Robert Anderson, based upon the novel by Kathryn C. Hulme
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Dame Edith Evans, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Dean Jagger
Over the course of film history we recognize dozens of genres and spilled copious volumes of words over them. By way of example there are noirs, musicals, war films, monster films, gangster films, westerns, spaghetti westerns, horror, Italian horror and…and the list goes on and on. There’s so many different genres it’s understandable when one slips through the cracks, especially when they aren’t exactly fashionable. Which is how Biblical films can feel like the forgotten step-child of genre cinema to most cinephiles, even as it was one of the original film genres.
Ben-Hur was first produced in 1907 as a one-reeler, remade in 1925 with Ramon Novarro and remade again in 1959. H.B. Warner, better known as Mr. Gower the druggist in It’s A Wonderful Life played Jesus in the silent version of The King of Kings. And Carl Theodor Dreyers 1928 film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, might still be the granddaddy of all religious/Biblical films, with Renee Jeanne Falconetti giving the performance to end all performances.
Directed by George Stevens
Screenplay By Michael Wilson and Harry Brown, based on the novel “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser, and the stage play “An American Tragedy” by Patrick Kearney
Starring Montgomery Clift, Shelly Winters, Elizabeth Taylor and Raymond Burr
George Stevens is an interesting character. He started his film career as a cinematographer for Laurel and Hardy, then moved on to directing comedy, his big break being Katherine Hepburn’s Alice Adams. After that it was on to Astaire/Rogers movies, and even the classic action/comedy, and obvious inspiration for Indiana Jones, Gunga Din. By 1940 he had a nice little thing going, and could have gone on doing it forever, had World War II not intervened and changed it all up.
In the war, Stevens was a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, contributing to various war documentaries, and shooting footage of D-Day and the concentration camps. By all accounts he saw many harrowing things, which is why when he came back, he didn’t have the taste for comedy any longer, turning instead to straight drama. Some of his post-army films were weepies, some were not, but none had anything in them resembling comedy. Continue reading
Directed by George Cukor
Screenplay by Albert Mannheimer, from the play by Garson Kanin
Starring Judy Holiday, William Holden and Broderick Crawford
It was only a few short weeks ago I mentioned the sorta-coincidence of doing back-to-back entries in this series on Best Picture losers starring William Holden. I also speculated it was likely we’d soon see another, given Holden starred in a good number of Best Picture losers in the 1950s. Well, whaddaya know – my prediction came true! Meaning we’ve now gone three-out-of-four with Best Picture losers starring William Holden.
So here, I give you Born Yesterday.