Born Yesterday, forgotten today : Judy Holliday

Due to a slight hiccup in East Midlands Trains’ normally reliable services today (and yesterday, and the day before and the day before that) * I’ve had even more time than usual to spend studying my MG, and I have to report that there was an article in it today that frankly got my goat.

It was a column by Tanya Gold.  She had two themes, viz –

  1. “Sport is moronic” – on this one, I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
  2. “I have been dead to film awards ceremonies since 1950, when Bette Davis (All About Eve) and Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard) lost out to Judy Holliday (who?) in Born Yesterday (what?) at the Oscars.”

On this point I can provide illumination.  Judy Holliday was a truly wonderful comic actress and, with all due respect to Davis and Swanson, her Oscar was well deserved.  Born Yesterday  was a romantic comedy directed by George Cukor in which a shady tycoon hires a journalist to coach his chorus girl moll in etiquette – with hilarious results!!!  In it we see someone unusually intelligent (Holliday) pretending to be someone intelligent pretending to be stupid, as opposed to … well, some more commonly observed combinations of those qualities.  Particularly in newspapers.

Judy Holliday was also plagued by the House Unamerican Activities Committee for her radical views.  The – Transcript of the hearing suggests that she decided to play it in character.  She seems to me to have run rings around her interrogators and – unusually -escaped without either being blacklisted herself or implicating any of her associates.  Her career did suffer, though, which is perhaps why she is not as well known today as she should be (even to Guardian journalists).  She died in 1965, aged 43.

Here are two clips, the first the set up, as it were, and the second the most famous scene.  Note the Oscar worthy use of a cigarette holder and how – as one commenter points out – the first two minutes of the second clip tell us all we need to know about the relationship between the two without a word being spoken.

(* Liberal England was first on the scene.)

4 thoughts on “Born Yesterday, forgotten today : Judy Holliday

  1. Is it true that a train lost a wheel and hoiked up the track just outside Market Harborough, and that’s what caused the closure of the line?

    • Yes – apparently an axle broke and ripped up two and a half miles of track, sleepers and all. On the upside, this meant I had a few unscheduled scenic coach trips, on the downside it took me over three hours to get to work. Swings and roundabouts.

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