George Stevens

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For other people named George Stevens, see George Stevens (disambiguation).
George Stevens
George Stevens with Oscar for Giant.jpg
George Stevens with his Oscar for Giant
Born (1904-12-18)December 18, 1904
Oakland, California, United States
Died March 8, 1975(1975-03-08) (aged 70)
Lancaster, California, United States
Cause of death
Heart attack
Occupation director, cinematographer, actor, writer, producer
Years active 1915–1970
Spouse(s) Yvonne Howell (1930–1947)
Joan McTavish (1968–1975)
Children George Stevens, Jr.
Awards

Academy Award for Best Director

Legion of Merit
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1954)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director

New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director

George Stevens (December 18, 1904 – March 8, 1975) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.[1]

Among his most notable films are A Place in the Sun (1951; winner of six Academy Awards including Best Director), Shane (1953; Oscar nominated), Giant (1956; Oscar for Best Director), and Diary of Anne Frank (1959; nominated for Best Director).

Biography[edit]

Film career[edit]

He was born in Oakland, California, and his family included his father Landers Stevens and his mother Georgie Cooper, both stage actors. His uncle was drama critic Ashton Stevens. He also had two brothers, Jack and writer Aston Stevens. He learned about the stage from his parents and worked and toured with them, on his way to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy short films, such as Night Owls (1930). His first feature film was The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble in 1933.

Stevens with Barbara Bel Geddes on set of I Remember Mama

In 1934 he got his first directing job, the slapstick Kentucky Kernels. His big break came when he directed Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams in 1935. He went on in the late 1930s to direct several Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies, not only with the two actors together, but on their own. In 1940, he directed Carole Lombard in Vigil in the Night, and the film has an alternate ending for European audiences in recognition of World War II, which the US had not yet entered.

During World War II, Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a film unit from 1943 to 1946, under General Eisenhower. His unit shot footage documenting D-Day—including the only Allied European Front color film of the war—the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Soviet forces at the Elbe River, as well as horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp and the Dachau concentration camp. Stevens also helped prepare the Duben and Dachau footage and other material for presentation during the Nuremberg Trials.[2] In 2008, his footage was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as an "essential visual record" of World War II.[3]

One result of his World War II experiences was that his subsequent films became more dramatic. I Remember Mama in 1948 was the last movie that he made with comic scenes. He was responsible for such classic films as A Place in the Sun, Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank, Giant and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He ended his directing career with the 1970 film The Only Game in Town with Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor. In the same year, he was head of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival.[4] In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Stevens was the father of television and film writer-producer-director George Stevens, Jr., the first CEO and director of the American Film Institute, He produced and directed the documentary George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey in 1984 and is the father of Stevens' grandson Michael Stevens, also a television and film producer-director.

Death[edit]

Stevens died following a heart attack on March 8, 1975 on his ranch in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles.

Awards[edit]

As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Stevens headed the U.S. Army Signal Corps unit that filmed the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For these contributions, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Stevens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1701 Vine Street. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, in 1951 for A Place in the Sun and in 1956 for Giant. He was also nominated in 1943 for The More the Merrier, in 1954 for Shane, and in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Production Co. Cast Notes
1930 Ladies Last Hal Roach Studios 3rd episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 Blood and Thunder Hal Roach Studios 4th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 High Gear Hal Roach Studios 5th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 Air-Tight Hal Roach Studios 7th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 Call a Cop! Hal Roach Studios 8th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 Mama Loves Papa Hal Roach Studios 9th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931 The Kick-Off! Hal Roach Studios 10th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1932 Who, Me? Universal Short film
1932 The Finishing Touch Universal Short film
1932 Boys Will Be Boys Universal Short film
1933 A Divorce Courtship Universal Short film
1933 Family Troubles Universal Short film
1933 Rock-a-Bye Cowboy Universal Short film
1933 Should Crooners Marry Universal Short film
1933 The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble Universal George Sidney/ Charles Murray Part of "The Cohens and Kellys" comedy series
1933 Room Mates Universal Short film
1933 Quiet Please! RKO Short film
1933 Flirting in the Park RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1933 What Fur RKO Short film
1933 Grin and Bear It RKO Short film
1934 Ocean Swells RKO Short film
1934 The Undie-World RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1934 Cracked Shots RKO Short film
1934 Hollywood Party MGM Hollywood Revue In an attempt to salvage the film Harry Rapf hired Stevens, and 8 other directors, to direct a sequence for the film.
1934 Bachelor Bait RKO Stuart Erwin/ Rochelle Hudson
1934 Kentucky Kernels RKO Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ George McFarland
1935 Bridal Bail RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1935 Hunger Pains RKO June Brewster/ Carol Tevis Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1935 Laddie RKO
1935 The Nitwits RKO Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ Betty Grable
1935 Alice Adams RKO Katharine Hepburn/ Fred MacMurray
1935 Annie Oakley RKO Barbara Stanwyck
1936 Swing Time RKO Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers
1937 Quality Street RKO Katharine Hepburn/ Franchot Tone
1937 A Damsel in Distress RKO Fred Astaire/ Joan Fontaine/ George Burns/ Gracie Allen
1938 Vivacious Lady RKO Ginger Rogers/ Jimmy Stewart
1939 Gunga Din RKO Cary Grant/ Douglas Fairbanks Jr./ Victor McLaglen/ Joan Fontaine
1940 Vigil in the Night RKO Carole Lombard/ Brian Aherne/ Anne Shirley
1941 Penny Serenade Columbia Cary Grant/ Irene Dunne
1942 Woman of the Year MGM Spencer Tracy/ Katharine Hepburn
1942 The Talk of the Town Columbia Cary Grant/ Jean Arthur/ Ronald Colman
1943 The More the Merrier Columbia Jean Arthur/ Charles Coburn/ Joel McCrea
1945 That Justice Be Done War Activities Committee Documentary/ Short film
1945 Nazi Concentration Camps Documentary
1945 The Nazi Plan U.S. Council for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality Documentary
1948 On Our Merry Way Miracle Productions Anthology story/ Co-directed a sequence
1948 I Remember Mama RKO Irene Dunne
1951 A Place in the Sun Paramount Montgomery Clift/ Elizabeth Taylor/ Shelley Winters
1952 Something to Live For MGM Joan Fontaine/ Ray Milland/
1953 Shane Paramount Alan Ladd Technicolor film
1956 Giant Warner Bros. Elizabeth Taylor/ Rock Hudson/ James Dean Warnercolor film
1959 The Diary of Anne Frank 20th Century Fox Millie Perkins/ Joseph Schildkraut/ Shelley Winters
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told George Stevens Prod. Max von Sydow Ultra Panavision 70 Technicolor film
1970 The Only Game in Town 20th Century Fox Elizabeth Taylor/ Warren Beatty Color film

Academy Awards[edit]

Year Award Film Result
1942 Outstanding Motion Picture The Talk of the Town Sidney FranklinMrs. Miniver
1943 Outstanding Motion Picture The More the Merrier Hal B. WallisCasablanca
Best Director Michael CurtizCasablanca
1951 Best Motion Picture A Place in the Sun Arthur FreedAn American in Paris
Best Director Won
1953 Best Motion Picture Shane Buddy AdlerFrom Here to Eternity
Best Director Fred ZinnemannFrom Here to Eternity
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award Won
1956 Best Motion Picture Giant Mike ToddAround the World in 80 Days
Best Director Won
1959 Best Motion Picture The Diary of Anne Frank Sam ZimbalistBen-Hur (Posthumous)
Best Director William WylerBen-Hur

Directed Academy Award performances[edit]

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
1941 Cary Grant Penny Serenade Nominated
1951 Montgomery Clift A Place in the Sun Nominated
1956 James Dean Giant Nominated
1956 Rock Hudson Giant Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actress
1935 Katharine Hepburn Alice Adams Nominated
1942 Katharine Hepburn Woman of the Year Nominated
1943 Jean Arthur The More the Merrier Nominated
1948 Irene Dunne I Remember Mama Nominated
1951 Shelley Winters A Place in the Sun Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1943 Charles Coburn The More the Merrier Won
1948 Oskar Homolka I Remember Mama Nominated
1953 Brandon deWilde Shane Nominated
1953 Jack Palance Shane Nominated
1959 Ed Wynn The Diary of Anne Frank Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1948 Barbara Bel Geddes I Remember Mama Nominated
1948 Ellen Corby I Remember Mama Nominated
1956 Mercedes McCambridge Giant Nominated
1959 Shelley Winters The Diary of Anne Frank Won

Academy Awards in George Stevens Films[edit]

Year Film Academy Award
Nominations
Academy Award
Wins
1935 Alice Adams
2
0
1936 Swing Time
2
1
1937 Quality Street
1
0
A Damsel in Distress
2
1
1938 Vivacious Lady
2
0
1939 Gunga Din
1
0
1941 Penny Serenade
1
0
1942 Woman of the Year
2
1
The Talk of the Town
7
0
1943 The More the Merrier
6
1
1948 I Remember Mama
5
0
1951 A Place in the Sun
9
6
1953 Shane
6
1
1956 Giant
10
1
1959 The Diary of Anne Frank
8
3
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told
5
0

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, March 12, 1975, page 79.
  2. ^ Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, page 197
  3. ^ Library of Congress "Cinematic Classics, Legendary Stars, Comedic Legends and Novice Filmmakers Showcase the 2008 Film Registry" News from the Library of Congress (30 December 2008)
  4. ^ "Berlinale 1970: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  5. ^ "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 

References[edit]

  • Cronin, Paul: George Stevens: Interviews. Jackson, MI, University Press of Mississippi, 2004. ISBN 1-57806-639-5
  • Moss, Marilyn Ann: Giant: George Stevens, a Life on Film. Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. ISBN 0-299-20430-8
  • Petri, Bruce: A Theory of American Film: The Films and Techniques of George Stevens. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1987. ISBN 0-8240-0070-6
  • Richie, Donald: George Stevens: An American Romantic. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1984 (reprint of 1970 original). ISBN 0-8240-5773-2

External links[edit]


Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
George Seaton
President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
1958–1959
Succeeded by
B. B. Kahane