BORN YESTERDAY [1950 / 2019] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
BROADWAYS BIGGEST HIT. . . now a perfectly swell motion picture!
From one of the truly legendary directors of the Hollywood’s golden era, George Cukor [‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’], comes the beloved comedy-classic ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
Judy Holliday [‘Bells Are Ringing’] gives an unforgettable, Oscar-winning performance as Billie Dawn, the dumb blonde girlfriend of corrupt millionaire junkyard tycoon Harry Brock [Broderick Crawford]. A man with social ambitions, Harry Brock is embarrassed by Billie Dawn’s uncouth behaviour and lack of social refinement, so he sends her on a crash course in culture with young journalist Paul Verrall [William Holden]. Billie Dawn proves to be an able student in lessons of life and love, whilst also becoming all too aware of her partners crooked business dealings. Emboldened by her new education, Billie Dawn stands up to Harry a Brock and his bad ways.
Acclaimed for its delectably witty screenplay [based on Garson Kanin's smash-hit Broadway production] ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ is a tour de force of comic acting, which boasts sizzling performances from its main players and pitch-perfect direction from George Cukor. The film is presented here for the first time in stunning High Definition, with a selection of informative and entertaining extras.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1950 New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Nomination: Best Actress for Judy Holliday. 1951 Academy Awards: Win: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Judy Holliday [Judy Holliday was not present at the awards ceremony but watched it with several nominees in New York including fellow-best actress candidate Gloria Swanson. In Hollywood, Ethel Barrymore accepted on her behalf]. Nomination: Best Director for George Cukor. Nomination: Best Writing and Screenplay for Albert Mannheimer. Nomination: Best Costume Design in Black-and-White for Jean Louis. Nomination: Best Picture for S. Sylvan Simon. 1951 Golden Globes: Win: Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Judy Holliday. Nomination: Best Motion Picture in a Drama. Nomination: Best Director for George Cukor. Nomination: Best Actress in a Drama for Judy Holliday. 1951 Laurel Awards: Win: Top Female Comedy/Drama Performance for Judy Holliday. 1951 Venice Film Festival: Nomination: Golden Lion Award for George Cukor. 1951 Writers Guild of America: Nomination: WGA Award (Screen): Best Written American Comedy for Albert Mannheimer. 1952 Jussi Awards: Win: Diploma of Merit: Best Foreign Actress for Judy Holliday. 2012 National Film Preservation Board, USA: Win: National Film Registry for the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
FILM FACT No.2: Though all the major Hollywood studios wanted to film Garson Kanin's Broadway play “Born Yesterday,” Columbia Studios purchased the rights for $1 million in 1948. However, the project was put on the shelf for months because of casting problems. In April 1950, Columbia Studios head Harry Cohn assigned George Cukor to direct the film, though George Cukor was not the studio's first choice. George Cukor's preparatory work for ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ was quite innovative. The actors rehearsed the screenplay for two weeks, and then performed it before an audience drawn from studio employees. George Cukor's idea was to give the actors a chance to develop “dimensional characters,” and clock laugh values from audience reaction before the cameras began rolling. George Cukor held that if a scene is funny, there is no need to play about with it. When people complained, “that laugh overrode the line, I did not hear the next line,” George Cukor's answer remained the same, “Go and see the movie again.” But he did make some changes – when the laughter was long and loud, he added some visual detail. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Holliday initially refused to reprise her popular Broadway role for the film. In September 1947, Rita Hayworth was reported to be in line for the role, but in late April 1949, it was 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. On the 16th October, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Columbia Studios was negotiating with Paul Douglas to reprise his Broadway role. Although the film was clearly written for a mature audience, Garson Kanin (screenplay) and George Cukor were forced to amend the film to appease censors. George Cukor explained, "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 Greer 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.” In the stage production, Holliday's character Billie Dawn wore only five costumes, but in the film, costume designer Jean Louis designed thirteen elaborate creations. George Cukor asked Louis to “characterize” the clothes, with obviously expensive and ornate clothes at the beginning, when Billie Dawn is dumb and self-centred. However, as she acquires culture, her wardrobe becomes simpler and more elegant.
Cast: Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden, Howard St. John, Frank Otto, Larry Oliver, Barbara Brown, Grandon Rhodes, Claire Carleton, Chet Brandenburg (uncredited), Charles Cane (uncredited), Helen Eby-Rock (uncredited), Mike Mahoney (uncredited), Paul Marion (uncredited), William Mays (uncredited), John Morley (uncredited), David Pardoll (uncredited), Bhogwan Singh (uncredited) and Smoki Whitfield (uncredited)
Director: George Cukor
Producer: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay: Garson Kanin (play) (screenplay revision) (uncredited) and Albert Mannheimer (screenplay)
Costume Design: Jean Louis (gowns)
Composer: Frederick Hollander
Cinematography: Joseph Walker, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Black-and-White)
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio
Running Time: 102 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Columbia Pictures / Arrow Films
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BORN YESTERDAY’  is a charming, uproarious film that is held up by the strength and wit of its brilliant lead performance of Judy Holliday as Billie Dawn and the journey of self-discovery and assertiveness that she embarks on. While the tale of an uncouth impolite woman being tutored to integrate her into society is one that’s been told time and again, Judy Holliday delivers her lines with such sincerity and blissful ignorance that it is truly wonderful to watch this brass showgirl change before our very eyes.
Anytime Judy Holliday is on-screen is a delight in how much she just owns this role. From Billie loudly playing the radio and singing to it while guests are trying to have a conversation, to her admitting that she is okay with putting very little thought into her life as long as she’s happy, to her genuine excitement as she circles every newspaper article so that her tutor, Paul Verrall [William Holden], will explain it to her. But even throughout these changes, she retains her sense of joy and wonder about the world – it’s just that that joy grows as her world grows.
This is one of George Cukor’s funniest films, in a long career of witty comedies. The dialogue is overflowing with great lines and revelations as Billie’s ignorance begins to fade and she sees the world that her fiancée, equally uncouth junk tycoon Harry Brock [Broderick Crawford], has made for himself. The absurdly loud banter between Judy Holliday and Broderick Crawford is charming in its own way, like watching two stubborn gangsters try to solve math equations, while the scenes between Judy Holliday and William Holden lead to some hilarious reactions from the two as they learn from each other.
Overall, ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ is a simple yet refreshing movie about knowledge overcoming ignorance. Judy Holliday is captivating from start to finish, always curious and always enchanting. The script is a perfect mixture of comedy and drama without sacrificing one over the other, leading to a satisfying conclusion and journey for our captivating lead. I had a smile on my face the entire time during this one, and it is not hard to see why.
BORN YESTERDAY MUSIC TRACK LIST
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36, 2nd movement (uncredited) [Music by Ludwig van Beethoven] [Played at the outdoor concert] [Also played on the phonograph]
I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE (uncredited) [Music by Jimmy McHugh] [Lyrics by Dorothy Fields] [Sung by Judy Holliday while playing cards]
THE BATTLE OF THE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC (uncredited) [Music by William Steffe] [Played when Billie is looking at the Gettysburg Address display]
AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL (uncredited) [Music by Samuel A. Ward] [Played when they're at the Jefferson Memorial]
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Blu-ray Image Quality – Columbia Pictures and Arrow Films presents us with a wonderful superior 1080p image transfer and of course shown in the standard 1.37:1 aspect ratio. You can retire your old Columbia Classics DVD. Again, we tip our hats off to cinematography Joseph Walker, with his technical image wizardry and the studio’s overall commitment to remastering with the utmost care and proficiency. Whatever Arrow Films continues to release, bears the stamp of impeccable attention to every last detail. Such care needs to be readily pointed out and praised – because, it is a rarity among the majors pumping out “old movies” in hi-definition. The Black-and-White image herein is 100% reference quality and be prepared to enjoy this amazing image. Fine detail pops out as it should. In close-up we can even appreciate minute amounts of hair, makeup and clothing fibres. There are several brief instances of softness, mostly during moments of rear projection or inserted stock footage. Otherwise, you are going to LOVE this image transfer.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Columbia Pictures and Arrow Films brings us the film in the wonderful 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio experience, and is perfectly adequate for a dialogue-driven movie with only the briefest of underscore provided by composer Friedrich Hollaender. With the audio experience there are no technical anomalies to report. The dialogue is very clean, stable, nicely rounded, and easy to follow. The music breathes quite easily throughout the film, though there are no big shifts in terms of dynamic intensity. Also, there are no pops, audio dropouts, or digital distortions to report and especially for a film released in 1950.
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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Yesterday Today: An Appreciation of ‘BORN YESTERDAY’  [1080p] [1.78:1 / 1.37:1] [20:16] With this featurette, we get to view a newly-filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew for the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’ Geoff Andrew mentions the film was directed by George Cukor in 1950 and was one film out of six films with the collaboration of husband and wife writing team Garson Kanin (1912 – 1999) and Ruth Gordon (1896 – 1985) between 1938 until 1969. Director George Cukor had a very successful career and made really great films over a decade, but the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ is the most interesting period of his career, and of course with his other film ‘Adam’s Rib,’ and with the married couple Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, they were also involved with the film ‘Double Life’ which sadly was not a very successful film, but the other films directed by George Cukor were his most ultimate highlights of a very successful career in directing films. To some people, they felt George Cukor was very underrated and felt he just made films for either the look or plays and rather neglected his career, but some say some of George Cukor’s films were very elegant with an amazing visual style, and sometimes he would film long takes so the viewer would pay attention in what they were viewing on the screen, but most of all, he was a great director towards males actors, as well for female actors, and especially George Cukor was very interested in women, and with women discovering themselves, also for women fighting against the expectations of society and especially men also, but most of all having women expressing themselves and the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ shows this very well with the very talented actress Judy Holliday. One thing especially about George Cukor, is that he was very interested in the theatre and everything the revolves around theatre productions and its performances, especially the way the actors present different personalities, also pretend to be something that they are not really like and it comes through the director likes the actor is transformed by certain experiences, which again is something that happens in the movie ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ and especially the main character Billie Dawn. Film critic Geoff Andrew says that people often do not say anything about the director George Cukor and his work, but other people comment about the director and that his films are compassionate, that they are witty and there is an element of kindness towards the characters, as well as understanding his characters and especially nobody in his films is an absolute villain or even an angel, but most of all, George Cukor likes to understand people very strongly, especially in the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY,’ but the film was originally written for a stage play by Garson Kanin and he was brought into help put some input into the script right up to the point when they started shooting the film, because the original script was a bit of a mess and Harry Cohen at Columbia Pictures wanted the Epstein brothers to work on the script and George Cukor was not at all happy with this situation, so George Cukor stood his ground against Harry Cohen and demanded Garson Kanin to come in and work on the script, because of Garson Kanin writing a successful novel, and Harry Cohen did not want Garson Kanin mentioned in the credits in the film or even pay Garson Kanin for his effort, and after some long hard persuasion from George Cukor, and Garson Kanin agreed to help out the director George Cukor, because Garson Kanin believed in the project, and on top of all that, George Cukor believed in Garson Kanin script. The difference between the play and the film is censorship, and in the film certain things are only hinted related to the relationship between the big time bully Harry Brock and Billie Dawn, who of course is kept woman and of course they could not show the real reason how these two characters lived together when the film was released in 1950, also certain words you could say in the play, but was also not allowed to be said in the film, but otherwise the film is basically faithful to the play, but what George Cukor and Garson Kanin were able to open up the film, with Paul Verrall and Billie Dawn wandering around Washington and visiting the famous buildings and that is why George Cukor loved filming on location, which of course is much better than working in a studio environment and to show what Geoff Andrew means, we get to view certain clips from the film with this featurette. To the virtue of George Cukor and novelist Garson Kanin script, Geoff Andrew thinks most people would agree, that the movie ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ is mostly remembered for the amazing performance of the actress Judy Holliday and it is most ironic as Judy Holliday played the character Billie Dawn in the hit stage play on the Broadway stage for four seasons, which is almost two years and of course Judy Holliday knew the character off by heart, but Harry Cohen was totally against Judy Holliday appearing in the film for several nasty reasons, but when they were making the film ‘Adam’s Rib’ and the main stars in the film were determined to show Harry Cohen what a good actress Judy Holliday was, who appeared in a supporting role in that film, where a woman shoots her husband and George Cukor had the camera on Judy Holliday for well over eight minutes especially Judy Holliday’s face and Harry Cohen was then finally convinced that Judy Holliday was a very good actress to appear in the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY,’ and George Cukor was rewarded with a stunning performance from Judy Holliday, and of course it was her first real performance, and of course Judy Holliday winning an Oscar for a her performance in ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’ Sadly, Judy Holliday made only seven films in her career, but sadly passed away with her last film, but despite her character was made to look not very intelligent and had a left wing sympathy and caused problems in here career in securing roles in films, and what a pity, because if Judy Holliday had lived much longer, the actress would have had a tremendous acting career in films. Director George Cukor was so pleased to have Judy Holliday in the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY,’ as he said about the actress, that he admired her courage, he also admired her independence, but also her intelligence, but also her comedy timing in the film and also gave a very touching performance in the film, and perhaps her famous scene in the film where she is playing the card game Gin rummy with Broderick, where Judy Holliday wins one hand after another and of course does it with very little dialogue. Geoff Andrew also mentions the actor Broderick Crawford and especially William Holden who went onto other great films like the Billy Wilder film ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ As to the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY,’ Geoff Andrew says it is a very funny, touching and beautifully directed film by George Cukor and again like to take long takes to draw the audience into the scene, especially on the actors performance, visually the film is very nice, never feels claustrophobic and has some wonderful locations scenes around Washington DC, and at that point this Geoff Andrew’s featurette ends and it is a really enjoyable experience and full of fascinating facts about the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
Special Feature: Blonde Ambition: Richard Dyer on Judy Holliday  [1080p] [1.78:1] [25:23] With this featurette, Richard Dyer celebrates the Oscar-winning actress Judy Holliday and he says some very interesting information about the actress and especially in the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ and especially with a combination of her character in the film, on the one hand Judy Holliday plays the character of a typical dumb blonde and most of her characters in her other films was very similar characters. Also, Richard Dyer says that Judy Holliday tries to act like a “dizzy blonde” as well as a female comic, but very verbal when the actress speaks and often her character runs rings round the male characters in her films, and very similar to the actress Goldie Hawn. Judy Holliday started in Vaudeville perfecting her character into movies. Richard Dyer also relates other blonde female actors like jean Harlow and Lucille Ball who played similar characters like Judy Holliday, but also mentions Mae West who he feels is a wonderful comic actress and also so very cynical and in your face. Now Richard Dyer now goes into detail of Judy Holliday who he thinks is a very interesting case, and one aspect is that Judy Holliday was Jewish and was born in New York and something about her humour and a kind of irony, but Judy Holliday had a very Jewish intellectual background and has a very informed educated element. Richard Dyer says that Judy Holliday started out in reviews and came to fame in cabaret and was very New York and a very smart kind of outlook. Despite playing the character of a dumb blonde, but clearly the actress is playing it with great intelligence. Richard Dryer then says that ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ at times seems to be totally political and subversive and also feels the film with the gangster character played by Broderick Crawford is controlling someone in the Government and doing shady deals, but of course it is a fictional film and I feel maybe he is looking at the film too seriously and I totally disagree with his conjecture about the film. But on the other hand Richard Dyer says the film is wonderfully complex and I totally agree with his comment, and again mentions that Judy Holliday won an Oscar for her performance in ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ and even beating Bette Davis for her role in ‘All About Eve.’ At that point, this Richard Dyer featurette ends.
Special Feature: Da Na Na Buh – BOOM! [Audio only]  [1080p] [1.37:1] [19:37] With this featurette, we get to view a new video essay on the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ by critic David Cairns, and at the same time we get clips from the film and also lots of behind-the-scene photographs related to the film, David Cairns especially comments about the actress Judy Holliday, like some of the comedic clowns we have seen in other films, and feels the actress Judy Holliday can move you, make you laugh, and Judy Holliday was a supreme good technician and suddenly you would be touched by her performance. Judy Holliday could understand text with subtle detail and vocally she was fascinating, and could hit a note with a bullseye, all in all, Judy Holliday was a true artist, and that is what director George Cukor would say about Judy Holliday. George Cukor first worked with Judy Holliday in a film entitled ‘Winged Victory’ and also worked with the actress in the film ‘Adam’s Rib.’ David Cairns also talks about the actors Broderick Crawford and William Holden who also appeared alongside Judy Holliday in ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’ David Cairns also mentions the problem with the script and where George Cukor brings in Garson Kanin to get the script right, especially as Garson Kanin wrote the novel “Born Yesterday.” David cairns also brings up the problem with the censors related to the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ where they had to make great changes with the play “Born Yesterday” where Judy Holliday played a kept woman character by Broderick Crawford’s hoodlum character, and in the play the whole thing is set in a hotel, whereas with the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY’ they expand its scenario in having Judy Holliday and William Holden making trips around Washington DC and especially exploring all the big tourist attractions like the theatre, museums and the seat of Government, as well as with the William Holden character wants to educate the Judy Holliday character and eventually the William Holden character falls in love with the Judy Holliday character. But the trouble with this featurette is that David Cairns just waffles on endlessly about the character of Judy Holliday to a point of boredom and also pointing out the obvious and to me this featurette was a totally pointless exercise.
Special Feature: Image Gallery: With this featurette, we get to view two items and they are as follows:
Production Stills: Here we get to view six black-and-white 1080p images to do with the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
Posters: Here we get to view 17 colour 1080p American and Overseas posters from the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
Special Feature: Original Trailer  [1080p] [1.37:1] [1:42] With this featurette, we get to view the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
PLUS: Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick.
BONUS: FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated 20 page collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Pamela Hutchinson. Contents includes: Cast and Crew. Born Yesterday and The Difficulties of Controlling Education by Pamela Hutchinson. About The Transfer. Production Credits. Special Thanks. Plus we get to view lots of wonderful black-and-white and colour photos related to the film ‘BORN YESTERDAY.’
Finally, ‘BORN YESTERDAY’  remains a total delightful, relevant social comedy about acceptance, empowerment, and personal growth. It's also a spectacular showcase for the multi-faceted talents, especially of the delightful Judy Holliday in the role she created and immortalized. Broderick Crawford and William Holden also file fine portrayals in this clever and surprisingly good rollicking hilarious romp. So, when all is said and done, at the end of the day I'd say this film is a totally brilliant film, and even though it could seem naïve and cartoonish in places, and to me, it is an all-time classic with a warm heart, a charming personality, and a performance by Judy Holliday that deserved the Oscar she eventually received. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso