Monday, June 7, 2010

Judy Holliday

A few months ago we rented Born Yesterday (1950) from Netflix.  This was Judy Holliday's first leading role in a movie, and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.  I had never seen the film before, so it was a treat.

Broderick Crawford plays Harry Brock.  I loved him in "Highway Patrol" on TV, but it was easy to hate him in this film for his treatment of Holliday's character, Billie Dawn.  At the same time, he was able to evoke pity in the audience because he was so pathetically inept at being human.

Holliday truly deserved the Oscar for this performance.  She was happy in her role as Crawford's girl until he hired William Holden to give her some lessons in how to be more refined.  One of Crawford's lines is, "Shut up! You ain't gonna be tellin' nobody nothin' pretty soon!" ...and he wants to teach Billie how to be refined?  How would he know?

She does become more educated during the course of the movie, and that would be good enough, but she brings so much more to the screen.  Every look and every action is brilliant.  Watch her playing gin.  The cards do magic things in her hands.  I couldn't concentrate on the game with her dealing.

I looked over the rest of the cast from Born, and there aren't many names that stand out.  Of interest is Larry Oliver who played Congressman Norval Hedges, the one Brock is trying to bribe.  Oliver only had one other acting role listed at IMDB, and that was the TV version of the same story on "Hallmark Hall of Fame," playing Senator Norval Hedges.  His real career was on Broadway where he was in, you guessed it, "Born Yesterday" among other roles.

What a shame that Judy didn't live long enough to make more films.  She was only in 13, as I count on IMDB, plus a few appearances on TV.  I was too young to catch her on Broadway.  Her finest roles, Born Yesterday and Bells are Ringing were both from plays in which she starred.

Judy was also wonderful in Adams Rib, with Tracy and Hepburn, but that was their film, not hers.  That role may have been helpful in getting her into Born Yesterday.

I have Bells are Ringing at home right now, from Netflix.  I saw the film when it was released in 1960 at Radio City Music Hall in NY.  That is the way to premier a film!  I was only ten years old, but I remember the day.

My wife hasn't seen it yet, so after we screen it, I will add comments in another blog.  So many movies, so little time!

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