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Born Yesterday

Born Yesterday (1950) starring Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford

Synopsis of Born Yesterday

 Broderick Crawford wants his girlfriend Judy Holliday to be cultured.  He hires William Holden to teach her in a hilarious Garson Kanin comedy set in Washington, D.C. Priceless Judy repeated Broadway triumph and won an Oscar(r) for playing the quintessential dumb blonde.

Cast of characters in Born Yesterday

  • Billie Dawn (Judy HollidayAdam’s Rib).  The ditzy girlfriend/mistress of sleazy junk millionaire Brock.  She starts out as nothing but a pretty ornament for him.  But gradually she becomes aware of who he is … and who she is.  A funny, endearing performance.  She deserved her Oscar for this performance.
  • Born Yesterday (1950) - the romantic triangle between William Holden, Billie Holliday, Broderick CrawfordHarry Brock (Broderick CrawfordAll the King’s Men).  The corrupt, junk-dealer millionaire, who wants his beautiful mistress to fit into high society in Washington, D.C.  He hires a journalist to give her a crash course on history, grammar, and politics.  And he gets more than he paid for …
  • Paul Verrall (William HoldenMiss Grant Takes RichmondSunset Boulevard).  The journalist who is hired to tutor Billie.  Along the way, he finds out that she may be ignorant, but she’s not stupid.  And she’s not only beautiful on the outside.  He begins to fall in love with her, as she begins to bloom.  And when Brock offers him $100,000 to leave her — he refuses.  To put that in perspective, that would be the equivalent to $1,000,000 in today’s money.

Editorial review of Born Yesterday courtesy of Amazon.com

Born Yesterday (1950) starring Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick CrawfordJudy Holliday’s Oscar-winning performance is just one of the reasons to watch this terrific 1950 comedy, which is equally acclaimed for its deliciously witty screenplay (based on Garson Kanin’s long-running Broadway hit) and George Cukor‘s silky-smooth direction. Holliday plays Billie Dawn, the floozie fiancée of a junk-dealer millionaire (Broderick Crawford), who is trying to make a good impression among the Washington, D.C., politicos he’s hoping to influence. To ensure that Billie gets properly “culturefied,” the corrupt Crawford hires a D.C. journalist (William Holden) to give the seemingly dim-witted blonde a crash course in politics, history, literature, and–you guessed it–true love.  Billie’s not nearly as dumb as she seems, of course, and before long she’s graduated from pawn to sassy queen on her husband’s political chessboard.

Watching Born Yesterday is a crash course in itself–an object lesson in how low American screen comedy has fallen from these delirious heights. The movie’s funny even when there’s a pause in the golden dialogue, such as when Holliday tests Crawford’s patience in a sublimely comedic round of gin rummy. There’s not a single scene in which Holliday (reprising her Broadway role) isn’t simply perfect, the cogs turning smoothly behind her dim expressions and coarsely high-pitched squeal. Suave as ever, Holden is her match made in heaven, and Crawford is a brute who’s too stupid to be genuinely malevolent. Put ’em all together and you’ve got a timeless classic, so flawless that a 1993 remake was instantly doomed to pale comparisons. –Jeff Shannon