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 Born Yesterday

Born Yesterday (1950)

Today's films push the envelope. Many filmmakers aim for shock value, filling their movies with a plethora of sex, violence and gore. However, 50 years ago, filmmakers struggled with censors to put out films that would barely be PG-rated by today's standards. Such is the case with Born Yesterday (1950).

In Born Yesterday, Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford), a junk dealer, hires journalist Paul Verrall (William Holden) to tutor his dim-witted mistress Billie Dawn (Judy Holliday). Although the film was clearly written for a mature audience, writer Garson Kanin and director George Cukor were forced to amend the film to appease censors.

Director George Cukor explains, "It seems ludicrous now, but twenty years ago you couldn't have a character say, 'I love that broad,' you couldn't even say "broad." And the nonsense that went on to get over the fact that Judy Holliday and Broderick Crawford lived together! It required the greatest skill and some new business that Garson invented, like Billie Dawn always creeping into the apartment the back way. We managed to keep it amusing, I think, but it was so unnecessary."

The censors, however, thought the scrutiny was necessary, and Cukor was urged to use caution when filming Holliday's dresses. At that time, it was mandatory for the intimate areas on the body, especially breasts, to be completely covered. The censors also requested that Cukor avoid any suggestion that Billie was trying to get Paul in bed. Billy's line: "Are you one of those talkers, or would you be interested in a little action" was deemed offensive. However, Cukor stood his ground and the line made it to the final cut of Born Yesterday. The director knew what he was doing: Born Yesterdaygrabbed five Academy Award nominations (Best Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay) and Holliday ended up taking home an Oscar for Best Actress.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenwriter: Albert Mannheimer
Cinematographer: Josph Walker
Composer: Frederick Hollander
Editor: Charles Nelson
Art Director: Harry Horner
Costume Designer: Jean Louis
Cast: Broderick Crawford (Harry Brock), Judy Holliday (Billie Dawn), William Holden (Paul Verrall), Howard St. John (Jim Devery), Frank Otto (Eddie).
BW-103m.

by Georgelle Cole

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