Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

The films of George Cukor: a "woman's director"?


Recommended Posts

cukor.jpg

 

Of all the film directors of the Golden Age, George Cukor is perhaps the only one of whom I can remember having seen a movie of his in a theater when I was still just a kid (obviously The Wizard of Oz is something I saw on TV for the first time).

 

That would have been Cukor's remake of The Blue Bird (1976), which featured Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Ava Gardner and Robert Morely, among others. I saw it as a kid when it was first released and revisited just a few days ago, having finally found it on DVD.

 

Anyway, TCM will dedicate Sunday's schedule to the films of George Cukor, which include beloved classics like Camille, The Women, and My Fair Lady. (I'm also a huge fan of Cukor's Little Women (1933) but that movie isn't included).

 

MyFairLady.jpg

 

*_TCM SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 28_*

 

*Camille* (1936) 6am ET

In this classic 19th-century romance, a kept woman runs off with a young admirer in search of love and happiness.

Cast: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allen Dir: George Cukor BW-109 mins, TV-PG

 

*Dinner At Eight* (1933) 8am ET

A high-society dinner party masks a hotbed of scandal and intrigue.

Cast: Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow Dir: George Cukor BW-111 mins, TV-PG

 

*David Copperfield* (1935) 10am ET

Charles Dickens' classic tale of an orphaned boy's fight for happiness and the colorful characters who help and hinder him.

Cast: W. C. Fields, Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Madge Evans Dir: George Cukor BW-130 mins, TV-G

 

*Adam's Rib* (1949) 12:15pm ET

Husband-and-wife lawyers argue opposite sides in a sensational women's rights case.

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell Dir: George Cukor BW-101 mins, TV-G

 

*Gaslight* (1944) 2:15pm ET

A newlywed fears she's going mad when strange things start happening at the family mansion.

Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty Dir: George Cukor BW-114 mins, TV-PG

 

*The Marrying Kind* (1952) 4:15pm ET

A judge forces a divorcing couple to think back on the problems that drove them apart.

Cast: Judy Holliday, Aldo Ray, Madge Kennedy, Sheila Bond Dir: George Cukor BW-92 mins, TV-G

 

*Born Yesterday* (1950) 6pm ET

A newspaper reporter takes on the task of educating a crooked businessman's girlfriend.

Cast: Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden, Howard St. John Dir: George Cukor BW-102 mins, TV-PG

 

*The Philadelphia Story* (1940) 8pm ET

Tabloid reporters crash a society marriage.

Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey Dir: George Cukor BW-112 mins, TV-G

 

*The Women* (1939) 10pm ET

A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays.

Cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland Dir: George Cukor BW-133 mins, TV-PG

 

*My Fair Lady* (1964) 12:30pm ET

A phonetics instructor bets that he can pass a street urchin off as a lady.

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White Dir: George Cukor C-172 mins, TV-G

 

*Romeo And Juliet* (1936) 3:30am ET

Shakespeare's classic tale of young lovers from feuding families.

Cast: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver Dir: George Cukor BW-125 mins, TV-G

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know if it was always Cukor's doing, or sometimes a producer like David Selznick as in the earlier films, but boy, when it came to casting he rarely set a foot wrong in his films. And generally got superlative performances out of the performers too. Just look at "David Copperfield" - every cast member just seems so right!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a good thing you mentioned Selznick. I don't remember off the top of my head how many of his movies Cukor directed, except of course that he was the original director of Gone With the Wind and may, by some estimates, have directed as much as 40% of the film before Victor Fleming was brought in to finish the picture according to Selznick's wishes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Watched A Star is Born over the weekend - this surely has to rank among the highest accomplishments in Cukor's career. One thing that struck me is the very "Pygmalion"-like aspects of the story, which are most obvious in the scene where James Mason changes the makeup applied by the studio men on Judy Garland, on her first day at the studio. I'm sure that aspect of the story was very helpful in preparing Cukor for directing My Fair Lady nearly a decade later.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> It's a good thing you mentioned Selznick. I don't remember off the top of my head how many of his movies Cukor directed, except of course that he was the original director of Gone With the Wind and may, by some estimates, have directed as much as 40% of the film before Victor Fleming was brought in to finish the picture according to Selznick's wishes.

 

I'm not a particularly big fan of Fleming's (I wish GWTW had been directed by Michael Curtiz), but it's very unfair to him to say that he "finished" the film -- because Cukor had barely begun it before Selznick pulled him off it and replaced him with Fleming.

 

I can't believe that any objective observer or historian would place Cukor's on-set contribution at more than 5%-7%, though his work on the film in pre-production, especially in casting and production design, were an enormous asset to the movie's success, and something Fleming really had no hand in, whatsoever.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know, I've been reading Sragow's bio of Fleming, and I believe that's where I came across that estimated, but it could have come from somewhere else.

 

One other interesting fact that I found in Sragow's book is that in Cukor's remake of A Star is Born, even the scenes that are exactly the same as in the original tend to run a third longer than in the 1937 version.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> I don't know, I've been reading Sragow's bio of Fleming, and I believe that's where I came across that estimated, but it could have come from somewhere else.

>

> One other interesting fact that I found in Sragow's book is that in Cukor's remake of A Star is Born, even the scenes that are exactly the same as in the original tend to run a third longer than in the 1937 version.

 

I've long contended that the '54 version of A STAR IS BORN would be a really great movie, if only they'd cut out all the musical numbers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=CineSage_jr wrote:}{quote}

> I've long contended that the '54 version of A STAR IS BORN would be a really great movie, if only they'd cut out all the musical numbers.

 

Oh, I totally agree. The story loses a lot of momentum with those numbers. It really wasn't a great idea to add those, as good as Garland is in them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Musical numbers tend to attenuate the story-telling process, robbing the story of some of its power. If you can actually continue the drama parallel to the numbers, then it can work, but if the story stops dead for a song and a dance, it can be deadly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

I don't want to read too much into it, but it's fun to look at the basis of The Women. It isn't the romance standard formula for me.

 

Good girl is wronged by bad girl.

Good girl must stand up for herself when "friends" seem fair-weathered.

Good girl and bad girl have showdown, and it is the talk of the townsfolk.

Good girl has to face the crisis, is supported by true blue sidekicks.

Good girl wins respect of all around by clearing the air of the deceit.

Good girl vanquishes bad girl-who exits "the town".

 

Exchange cowboy for girl....

Men just up the ante, adding guns and a card game.

 

BTW- I just LOVE the repeated reference to *Jungle Red.*

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a really sharp analysis, C.! I'm very impressed by the insight you've demonstrated.

 

Usually for me, I'm always thinking "How is the movie framed and photographed?" "Is the editing too fast or too slow?" and sometimes I won't allow themes, ideas and motifs to register, at least not on a conscious level.

 

But, in the case of The Women, yes, I also love the constant references to Jungle Red. It's not a color I'd like to use, myself, mind you. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I credit JonnyGeetar. He got me thinking on this. The Women isn't the standard romance formula. It's just the Reno thing and all the western getups makes a perfect little cinematic joke and ties it all up in a lasso.

 

I think Anita Loos and Claire Boothe Luce are brilliant!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...