George Cukor

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myrnaloyisdope
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George Cukor

#1 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:58 pm

George Cukor (1899-1983)

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"Stylistically, his films are defined by their unshowy
sophistication, with the discreetly fluid camera focused
firmly on the dazzling performances; he was particularly
adept with and sympathetic to actresses, and made
numerous films with women centre-stage. Fittingly, the
secret of Cukor's eminently civilised artistry lies in
its deceptive ease."



FILMOGRAPHY

Grumpy (1930) co-directed with Cyril Gardner

The Virtuous Sin (1930) co-directed with Louis Gasnier

The Royal Family of Broadway (1931) co-directed with Cyril Gardner

Tarnished Lady (1931)

Girls About Town (1931)

One Hour With You (1932) co-directed with Ernst Lubitsch – included in Eclipse 8: Lubitsch Musicals (R1) / Sherlock Home Video (R2 ES)

What Price Hollywood? (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

Rockabye (1932) Manga Films (R2 ES)

Our Betters (1933)

Dinner at Eight (1933) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in The Classic Comedy Collection / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Little Women (1933) Warner Bros (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

David Copperfield (1934) Warner Bros (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Sylvia Scarlett (1935) Warner Bros (R1) -- included in the Katharine Hepburn Collection / Universal (R2)

Romeo and Juliet (1936) Warner Bros (R1)

Camille (1936) Warner Bros. (R1) -- also included in the Greta Garbo: The Signature Collection / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Holiday (1938) Columbia (R1) -- also included in The Cary Grant Box Set / Columbia (R2 UK)

Zaza (1938)

Gone With the Wind (1939) uncredited, replaced by Victor Fleming Warner Bros (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

The Women (1939) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in The Joan Crawford Collection

Susan and God (1940)

The Philadelphia Story (1940) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in The Classic Comedy Collection / MGM (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

A Woman's Face (1941) Warner Bros (R1) -- included in the Joan Crawford Collection Volume 2

Two-Faced Woman (1941)

Her Cardboard Lover (1942)

Keeper of the Flame (1942) Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Resistance and Ohm's Law (1943) documentary

Gaslight (1944) Warner Bros (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Winged Victory (1944)

Desire Me (1947) co-directed with Jack Conway

A Double Life (1948) Republic Pictures (R1) / Suevia (R2 ES)

Edward, My Son (1948)

Adam's Rib (1949) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in the Tracy & Hepburn: The Signature Collection / MGM (R1)

A Life of Her Own (1950)

Born Yesterday (1950) Columbia (R1) / Columbia (R2 UK)

The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951)

The Marrying Kind (1952) Columbia (R1)

Pat and Mike (1952) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in the Tracy & Hepburn: The Signature Collection / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

The Actress (1953)

It Should Happen to You (1954) Sony (R1)

A Star is Born (1954) Warner Bros (R1) -- also included in the Judy Garland: The Signature / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Bhowani Junction (1956)

Les Girls (1957) Warner Bros (R1)

Wild is the Wind (1957)

Heller in Pink Tights (1959) Paramount (R1) / Paramount (R2 UK)

Song Without End (1959) completed by Cukor after Charles Vidor's death

Let's Make Love (1960) Fox (R1) / Fox (R2 UK)

The Chapman Report (1962)

Something's Got to Give (1963) uncompleted – 37 minutes of footage available on documentary Marilyn: The Final Days – Image Entertainment (R1) -- also included in the Marilyn Monroe Special Anniversary Collection Fox (R1)

My Fair Lady (1964) Warner Bros (R1) / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Justine (1969)

Travels with My Aunt (1972)

Love Among the Ruins (1975)

The Blue Bird (1976) Ruscico (R0)

The Corn is Green (1979) Warner Bros (R1) -- included in the Katharine Hepburn Collection / Warner Bros (R2 UK)

Rich and Famous (1981) Warner Bros (R1)


FORUM DISCUSSIONS

A Star is Born

The Art of Film Restoration

My Fair Lady

Holiday

The Philadelphia Story

The Women

The Blue Bird

Justine

Gone With The Wind

The Men Who Made The Movies


WEB RESOURCES

Senses of Cinema

Bright Lights Film Journal

Film Reference

PBS: American Masters

William K. Everson Collection - notes on his early films

Holiday

The Philadelphia Story


BOOKS

On Cukor by Gavin Lambert. (Rizzoli, 2000)

George Cukor : A Double Life by Patrick McGilligan (St. Martin's Griffin, 1997)

George Cukor: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2001)

Cukor & Co.; The Films of George Cukor and His Collaborators by Gary Carey (The Museum of Modern Art, 1971)

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myrnaloyisdope
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#2 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:23 pm

Just thought I should get the Cukor discussion started with a bit of gushing about Holiday, which is likely my favorite movie. 90 minutes of sublimity. For me it's the quintessential golden-age Hollywood film, where the stars, the script, and the director all unite to create something great.

I'm not sure that any other film in Cukor's career quite manages to reach such a perfect blend of performance and story. Everyone is at the height of their powers, with Katharine Hepburn at her very best in the brief period where she was a dominant screen-presence, but had yet to figure out the formula for popular success (that being her fieriness and then eventual subjugation to Spencer Tracy et al), I would argue this her most lively and true performance, because unlike her later roles she doesn't compromise and become subserviant ala her 1940's roles, she instead finds someone who will appreciate her as she is.

Similarly Cary Grant was just stepping into his familiar screen persona which in essence began with 1937's The Awful Truth, so what you have in Holiday is Cary Grant becoming Cary Grant before your very eyes. It's also fascinating because he hasn't yet fallen into a pattern of familiarity that he would later go into, so every scene feels fresh.

Then you have 2 wonderful supporting parts. Lew Ayres as Ned Seton might be my favorite supporting role ever. He's just wonderful as a cynical alcoholic, absolutely nailing the role, while giving it a lot more heart than you would expect. Edward Everett Horton is also grand as Nick Potter (a role he also played in the 1930 version), providing his usual humor but also a lot more depth than you usually see from him.

Then you have the wonderful script from Philip S. Barry's play. Of all his work I've read and seen(Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, The Animal Kingdom, and Without Love), I think Holiday is probably his best work, with the greatest combination of humor and heart. Donald Ogden Stewart deserves immense credit as well for his script as he tightens up the some of the dialogue, giving fuller characterizations to the Potters, while eliminating some unnecessary details. Having seen the 1930 version and Cukor's version, it's evident that Stewart's script really tightened things up quite a bit.

Then of course there is Cukor's direction which is completely subtle, utterly efficient, but enhances the work immensely. The original 1930 version is inferior in a lot of ways, but the most noticable is the crummy direction, which treats the script entirely like a play being filmed. Cukor's version despite having only a few settings, and essentially following the play quite closely feels very cinematic with its wonderful framing, purposeful camera movements, and excellent set design. It's your typical Hollywood style invisible editing, but it's so skillful, without a wasted shot that it's completely admirable, and evidence of Cukor's skill. It's the kind of direction that you take for granted because it is subserviant to the story, but the perfection of it is definitely uncommon.

Anyway the film is a masterpiece, and for me it's Cukor's best.

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domino harvey
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#3 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:51 pm

I guess you missed the Holiday thread which was active with discussion as recently as yesterday?

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myrnaloyisdope
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#4 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:56 pm

Glad you liked it.

Tolmides
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#5 Post by Tolmides » Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:06 am

I'm afraid I can't share your love for Holiday. I enjoy it - it'd be damn hard not to enjoy anything with Cary and Kate, not to mention the rubbery faced Edgar Everett Horton - but I don't love it in the way many seem to do. I vastly prefer The Philadelphia Story for a Cary, Kate and Cukor collaboration. Then again, I haven't watched it recently and when I first watched it I saw expecting a screwball comedy (having just come off watching The Awful Truth and Bringing Up Baby) so I'm planning on revisiting it sometime soon.

But I think Cukor is one of the great directors. For somebody who didn't make their first musical until comparatively late in his career (with A Star is Born) he certainly excelled at them; although I must say that both of his two musicals contain incongruous elements: A Star is Born plays quite well as a drama with musicals numbers tagged in, and Rex Harrison doesn't really sing in My Fair Lady.

Of course, musicals are only a slim component of his work, which was varied, but always had a strong focus on female characters, often in difficult or unhappy marriages.

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Michael
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#6 Post by Michael » Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:12 pm

Anyone seen Wild is the Wind with Anna Magnani? Comments, thoughts please. This is the only American film with Magnani I've not seen.

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carax09
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#7 Post by carax09 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 12:54 pm

I started watching it on some taped-from-broadcast dvd, but the picture quality was so ropey, I gave up after about ten minutes. It did seem like there might be a good film under all that mess, so I stopped before I would taint my impression of it for all times. If you know of an upcoming TCM airing, or a legit dvd somewhere, please do let us know!

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swo17
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#8 Post by swo17 » Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:03 pm

TCM is scheduled to air Wild Is the Wind on Nov 29 at 12:30 PM Eastern.

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Michael
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#9 Post by Michael » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:32 pm

Thanks, swo17. :)

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domino harvey
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Re: George Cukor

#10 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:31 am

Did anyone catch the Chapman Report at BAM tonite? YIKES. I can see what Godard got out of it, since he lifts the interview of Fonda for Masculin Feminin, but this film was far from a lost treasure. From Fonda's laughably bad acting to the left field
SpoilerShow
gang rape
to the abhorrent moral message-- "Well, we all know any slut like that was gonna end up like that eventually" (well, close to that anyways)-- this is one that isn't screaming out for an expedited release. Speaking of release, at least the decision to not have the female leads wear bras kept the audience from some Barmy-style sleeping. An excerpted version of the Glyns Johns storyline might have made an amusing contribution to one of those sixties sex comedy anthologies though.

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George Kaplan
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Re: George Cukor

#11 Post by George Kaplan » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:40 am

And poor Claire Bloom forced to wear chocolate brown in every scene!

royalton
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Re: George Cukor

#12 Post by royalton » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 pm

So I wasn't missing much, then? I was sorely tempted to go based on the promotional still of the guy in Speedos.

HarryLong
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Re: George Cukor

#13 Post by HarryLong » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:04 pm

Ah, Ty Hardin (or Try Harder as Tallulah B dubbed him when they did The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here), I believe. It's probably worth watching for that particular bit of eye candy ...

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domino harvey
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Re: George Cukor

#14 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:06 pm

He is in the only bearable quarter of the film... Edelstein said Cukor focused his camera so seductively on him mainly because he wanted to do him, so I guess there's that

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: George Cukor

#15 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:42 am

I'm thinking about getting this, largely for Bringing Up Baby, but I'm curious about the Cukors (The Philadelphia Story and Adam's Rib.) The only movie of his I've seen was Gaslight, and that was long enough ago that I don't even remember if I liked it or not- are those two movies good places to start with him? Are they representative?
Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: George Cukor

#16 Post by knives » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:20 am

They do have their fanbase and there's the possibility that you'll like them, but in all honesty I find them to be some of his worst work, especially Adam's Rib which thinks it's being daring when it comes to sexual politics when it's mostly corny.

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Professor Wagstaff
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Re: George Cukor

#17 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:34 pm

I've always found Cukor to be a chore, far too formal. I know The Philadelphia Story is a well loved film, but I revisited it last year and still found it a slog. I know you're more about buying the set for Bringing Up Baby, but if you do decide to visit Cukor, see Holiday.

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myrnaloyisdope
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Re: George Cukor

#18 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:57 pm

Holiday is his best film I think, I always end up dazzled by it. Cukor's direction is solid and the film moves along very nicely, it has a very sharp script (which cuts out a lot of the superfluous bits from the original play) and of course Hep and Cary at the height of their powers. Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon are really great in supporting roles, and Lew Ayres gives one of my favorite performances ever, perfectly capturing the spirit of an alcoholic screw-up.

I'm a pretty big Cukor fan and I agree that sometimes his films are too formal. I think one of his greatest strengths as a director was how he got the most out of actors. A lot of people have credited him with helping Cary Grant began the journey to Cary Grant, with a very fun and spirited performance in the bizarre Sylvia Scarlett. Chances are if you like the actors in a Cukor film, you will end up liking the film, as he brings out the best in them.

Stylistically, Cukor is usually pretty straightforward, but some of his earlier work (What Price Hollywood? especially), has some very striking editing.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: George Cukor

#19 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:21 pm

I'll give Holiday a shot before checking out the others, than- at the very least, it sounds like a movie less hateful towards the Katherine Hepburn character's strength and intelligence than the Philadelphia Story appears to be.

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domino harvey
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Re: George Cukor

#20 Post by domino harvey » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:26 pm

Holiday is a lock for number one on my 30s List. The sequence in the toy room with all the adults forming an impromptu clubhouse environment is one of the most joyous things ever filmed.

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myrnaloyisdope
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Re: George Cukor

#21 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:53 pm

Holiday is in a vicious fight with Stage Door for number one on my list! Totally agreed with you Domino about that sequence, and the thing about the film is there are a half dozen sequences that hold their own with it.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: George Cukor

#22 Post by matrixschmatrix » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:41 pm

domino harvey wrote:Holiday is a lock for number one on my 30s List. The sequence in the toy room with all the adults forming an impromptu clubhouse environment is one of the most joyous things ever filmed.
Wow, no kidding- I just watched it, and it's one of the first movies of the broad screwball/romantic comedy type of that era that I loved without having to feel like I was sort of making allowances for the weak spot. I don't know that I've ever enjoyed Katherine Hepburn more in anything, there wasn't anything political or gendered that seemed especially problematic, and everything generally but especially all the scenes in the playroom were just insanely fun.

The melodrama scenes dragged a bit, and dumped a bit into Big Hollywood Closeups, but it felt intentional- you wanted to get back to Hepburn and Grant and the brother and professor and his wife all hanging out as much as the characters do, and you catch the deadly dullness of the rich people almost immediately. If anything, you lose track of what Grant's character could have seen in Julia in the first place.

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