Movies We Like
When I read the play "Born Yesterday," a comedy written by Garson Kanin, I was dying to watch the adapted classic film. The tale itself is so simple yet brilliant: a Pygmalion story. A man shapes a woman into his likeness and then falls in love with her. Add on a backdrop set in post-World War II in a hotel with a view of the White House, and the story becomes politically analytical. Kanin weaves his characters and elements together so flawlessly, in a manner that asks the audience to think about morality, social class, relations between the sexes, and intelligence subconsciously, while watching the plot unfold.
I finally had a chance to watch the film, and Judy Holliday and William Holden arrested my attention full-heartedly.
Broderick Crawford plays Harry Brock, a rich but corrupt tycoon who hires the journalist Paul Verrall (Holden), to educate his ex-showgirl mistress Billie Dawn (Holliday) and teach her social grace. Paul Verrall is skeptical at first, but finds that even though she is uneducated, she is capable of learning quickly. Billie Dawn is aptly named; as she is awakened to Verrall’s wisdom and upbringing, she begins to see society in a new light, and she starts to understand who Harry Brock actually is, as well as her own role of signing papers that contribute to governmental corruption. She comes to understand that the ignorance in which she lived all her life prior to Paul was an aid to Brock’s harmful schemes.
Holliday and Holden’s performances are solid, and the way their characters’ vast differences wind up bringing them together is played beautifully. It is important to watch this classic instead of the more recent version; the essence of the original play is captured in the black-and-white riveting plotline that spells c-l-a-s-s-i-c.
Born Yesterday won an Oscar for Best Actress (Judy Holliday) and was nominated for four more (Best Costume, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay).