Born Yesterday (1950 film)

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Born Yesterday
Born yesterday.jpg
original film poster
Directed by George Cukor
Produced by S. Sylvan Simon
Written by Albert Mannheimer
Garson Kanin (uncredited)
Garson Kanin (play)
Starring Judy Holliday
Broderick Crawford
William Holden
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Editing by Charles Nelson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates December 26, 1950 (1950-12-26TUS)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4.15 million (US rentals)[1]

Born Yesterday is a 1950 comedy-drama film based on the play of the same name by Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. The screenplay was written by Albert Mannheimer with uncredited contributions from Kanin.[2]

Judy Holliday (in an Oscar-winning performance), William Holden and Broderick Crawford star in the story of a corrupt tycoon who brings his ditzy showgirl mistress with him to Washington when he tries to buy a Congressman. He hires a journalist to educate his girlfriend, and in the process, she learns just how corrupt her boyfriend is.

The film was produced and released by Columbia Pictures, which was somewhat ironic, given that Kanin frequently stated that the uncouth junk dealer Harry Brock was modeled on Columbia topper Harry Cohn, with whom he'd long had a testy relationship. According to Cohn biographer Bob Thomas, Cohn knew of the connection but was not bothered by it.

In 2012, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


White House Sightseeing bus as pictured in the film.

Uncouth tycoon Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) goes to Washington, D.C. with his brassy mistress, Emma 'Billie' Dawn (Judy Holliday), and his crooked lawyer, Jim Devery (Howard St. John), to "influence" a politician or two. The lawyer also presses Harry to marry Billie on the grounds that a wife cannot be forced to testify against her husband.

Harry becomes disgusted with Billie's ignorance and lack of manners (though he himself is much worse) and hires a tutor for her, journalist Paul Verrall (William Holden). Blossoming under Paul's encouragement, Billie turns out to be much smarter than anybody knew and begins thinking for herself. The two fall in love.

Meanwhile, Devery had persuaded Harry to sign over many of his assets to Billie to hide them from the government. When Harry needs to get them back, he comes into conflict with Billie's new-found independence. She and Paul use her leverage to escape from Harry's domination; she promises to give him back his property little by little as long as he leaves them alone. Billie and Paul marry.


All cast members are now deceased.

Awards and honors[edit]

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, with Judy Holliday winning the Academy Award for Best Actress. The other nominations were for Best Costume Design - Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing - Screenplay.

Holliday also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical or Comedy, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama. The film received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and Best Motion Picture Director (Cukor).

Holliday also won a Jussi Award (the main film award in Finland) for Best Foreign Actress.

The film was nominated for the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award, and the Writers Guild of America Best Written American Comedy Award (Mannheimer).

The British film magazine Picturegoer awarded the film its Seal of Merit, but warned its readers that Holliday's character is "from New York's East Side, and speaks in a baby Bronx voice that is like the tinkling of many tiny, tuneless cymbals." The magazine admired Holliday's performance and spoke of her in the same breath as Carole Lombard.

American Film Institute recognition


A new version of Born Yesterday was released in 1993, starring Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson and John Goodman.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the episode "Stage 5" of The Sopranos, J.T. (Tim Daly) cites this movie as the inspiration for the mob boss character in the movie "Cleaver".



  1. ^ 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  2. ^ David Thomson Have You Seen...?, 2008, London: Allen Lane, p118

External links[edit]