review for On Cukor on AllMovie

On Cukor (2000)
by Tom Wiener review

It seems unfair to try to cram a career as rich as George Cukor's into a 90-minute film, but On Cukor does do an admirable job of covering all the highlights. Cukor has long taken a back seat to fellow Golden Age filmmakers John Ford, Howard Hawks, and William Wyler, but this film makes it clear that his achievements compare favorably with theirs. Although there is an abundance of eloquent testimony from both observers of his career and friends and colleagues, it's unfortunate that commentary from the most famous team Cukor worked with, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, is missing. What's more, there isn't enough of a sense of Cukor the man here, which is understandable. Though Cukor was happy to host parties at his home, he was also discreet about his personal life, no doubt aware that any whiff of scandal connected to his homosexuality might jeopardize his career. The film discusses at some length the controversy over his firing from Gone With the Wind, but that incident didn't seem to affect his future in film. Some of his Hollywood friends and colleagues present here try to scratch beneath the surface, but it's clear that Cukor opened himself up to few people during his lifetime. He never wrote a memoir and left few papers that would give us more insight into him. Still, the films are a marvelous legacy.