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Born Yesterday

"Born Yesterday" on DVD

Holden Takes a Holliday

Director George Cukor's adaptation of the Garson Kanin play teams Broderick Crawford, William Holden and Judy Holliday in what's an outstanding morality comedy.

As a comedy it doesn't leave you rolling on the floor, though there are lots of great light moments in it. As a morality tale it works much better, however, as it tells the tale of the comeuppance of a corrupt millionaire junk dealer (Crawford) at the hands of his "main squeeze."

Crawford's Harry Brock blows into Washington DC to spread around a little influence and, while there, hires young journalist Holden to take his lady around and teach her a little sophistication.

Naturally, she ends up teaching Holden - and everyone else - a few things along the way, as well as awakening in herself an appreciation for life's "big picture" and the realization that, in her role as a signing authority in Brock's empire, she's been used as a pawn in some rather questionable dealings.

Holliday really steals the show as the unsophisticated ex-showgirl concubine who's a lot smarter than most people suspect, a performance that earned her a "Best Actress" Oscar. Crawford chews the scenery (and this isn't meant as a putdown; the character demands it) as the corrupt blowhard Brock, while Holden is gentle and sophisticated as the "writer-turned-Professor Henry Higgins."

There's a nasty bit when Holliday begins using her new-found knowledge and sense of social consciousness against Crawford and he roughs her up a bit. It's a powerful scene you feel viscerally - yet compared with how such scenes are usually handled today its presentation is rather mild.

It just goes to show that it's the writing and direction, not the effects or violence, that make for the most powerful images.

There's also a lot of "rah rah" about the United States, its founders and its foundations. It isn't drum beating for the sake of it, however, since it's essential to the plot. Besides, it doesn't hurt to be reminded evert si often of what makes America a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.

The DVD is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 2 channel mono (as opposed to our preferred presentation of only using the center channel for such mono releases) and the audio and black & white video quality are very good for an old flick like this. Extras include the theatrical trailer, chapter stops, and some cast/crew info. There's also some vintage advertising for the film and a decent liner essay inside the package.

Born Yesterday, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
approx 102 minutes, fullscreen (1.33:1) black and white, Dolby Digital 2 channel mono
Starring Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford
Produced by S. Sylvan Simon, Screenplay by Albert Mannheimer, based on Garson Kanin's stage play
Directed by George Cukor


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Updated May 13, 2006