Born Yesterday (1950)

Born Yesterday (1950)Born Yesterday is a film released in 1950 by Columbia Pictures. It is based on a play, also entitled Born Yesterday. The film follows the story of a Harry Brock, a corrupt tycoon who travels with his showgirl girlfriend to Washington, DC in order to attempt to buy off a Congressman. Gradually, his girlfriend learns more about Brock’s corruption.

Born Yesterday has won numerous awards, and is regarded as a cult classic. The film’s marketing included the tagline "A perfectly swell motion picture!"

Cast and Crew of Born Yesterday

Judy Holliday stars in the film as Emma "Billie" Dawn, showgirl mistress of Harry Brock, played by Broderick Crawford. William Holden serves as Paul Verrall, the journalist hired to educate Emma Dawn. Howard St. John plays Jim Devery, Harry Brock’s lawyer. The cast also includes Frank Otto, Larry Oliver, Barbara Brown, Grandon Rhodes, and Claire Carleton.

Born Yesterday was directed by George Cukor and produced by S. Sylvan Simon. Garson Kanin wrote the original play, while Albert Mannheimer adapted it for the screen with the uncredited assistance of Kanin. Frederick Hollander composed the score for Born Yesterday, while Charles Nelson and Joseph Walker handled the editing and cinematography, respectively.

The film was released on December 26, 1950, and has a running length of 103 minutes.

Plot Synopsis of Born Yesterday

Broderick Crawford stars as Harry Brock, a rude, corrupt tycoon on his way to Washington, DC with Emma "Billie" Dawn, his beautiful mistress. They are accompanied by Jim Devery, Brock’s equally corrupt lawyer. The trio travel with the intensions of buying off a Congressman. During the trip, Devery encourages Brock to marry Dawn, based on the fact that a woman can not legally testify against her spouse.

Over the course of their travels, Brock decides that Dawn is rude, ignorant, and uneducated, an ironic notion seeing that Brock possesses all of those qualities himself, only to a greater extent. Brock decides to hire Paul Verrall, a journalist who is willing to provide Billie with an education. Billie and Paul become romantically involved, and it is gradually revealed that Billie was actually quite intelligent to begin with. With Paul’s teachings, she learns to think for herself and sees the error of Brock’s ways.

During this time, Devery convinces Brock to sign over several of his assets to Dawn in order to conceal them from the authorities. Eventually, Brock decides to retrieve them, creating a conflict with Dawn and her new perspective on their relationship. Billie decides to leave Brock, and slowly returns his possessions under the condition that he leave her and Paul alone. Finally, Paul marries Billie.

Critical and Audience Reception of Born Yesterday

Critical reception of Born Yesterday was quite favorable upon its release, and remains so today. The meta-critic review site Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 95%, with nineteen positive reviews and only a single negative review. Critics often cite the film’s lively dialogue, convincing acting performances, and the political leanings of the film as its most notable strengths. Critics were particularly impressed with Judy Holliday’s ability to turn the "dumb blonde" stereotype on its head in a convincing manner. User reviews on the Internet Movie Database place Born Yesterday at a 7.6 out of 10, with 3,476 votes counted.

The original 1950 version of Born Yesterday is commonly considered to be superior to its 1993 remake, and some even find it to be superior to the original play.

Awards and Recognition for Born Yesterday

Judy Holliday won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Emma "Billie" Dawn. The film was also nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Writing, Black-and-White, and Best Picture.

Born Yesterday also received a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical or Comedy (also going to Judy Holliday). It was nominated for Golden Globes in the category of Motion Picture Drama, Best Motion Picture Director, and Best Motion Picture Actress in a Drama.

Born Yesterday won the Jussi Award, the Finnish equivalent of the Academy Awards, for Best Foreign Actress (again, going to Holliday). Albert Mannheimer was nominated for the Best Written American Comedy Award by the Writers Guild of America, as well as the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion.

Picturegoer, a British film magazine, gave Born Yesterday its Seal of Merit, and compared Holliday’s acting performane to Carole Lombard.

Additional Facts about Born Yesterday

Judy Holliday starred in both the stage and screen versions of Born Yesterday.

Born Yesterday was sold to Columbia Pictures by Garson Kanin for one million dollars, the highest recorded screenplay price at the time. When Columbia purchased the rights to the film, they intended to have Rita Hayworth in the leading female role. However, Hayworth wasn’t interested in the part, for she had recently gotten married. Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, was opposed to having Judy Holliday reprise her stage role in the film, but was later convinced.

Several actresses auditioned for the role of Billie before Holliday received the role, including Marie McDonald, Celeste Holm, Paulette Goddard, Ida Lupino, Evelyn Keyes, and Marilyn Monroe.

Born Yesterday was remade in 1993, and starred Melanie Griffith (as Billie), John Goodman (as Brock), Don Johnson (as Paul), and Edward Hermann (as Devery). Critical reception of the remake paled in comparison to the original.