Born Yesterday (1950)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Comedy of Manners, Satire  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1950 (USA)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Born Yesterday is remembered today primarily for Judy Holliday's Oscar-winning comic performance. At its release, though, it was considerably more controversial, generating protests that proclaimed the film Communist-sympathizing for suggesting that American politics could be corrupt. The core of the story is largely borrowed from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with Broderick Crawford as the authority figure who hires William Holden to tutor the coarse but good-natured Holliday. The film's emphasis is humor, not politics, with Crawford's character intended primarily as Holliday's foil rather than as any sort of serious social commentary. Certainly, crooked politicians were nothing new to motion pictures, but the film was released into an era of Anti-Communism when even the smallest criticism of the U.S. government was perceived as serving the Communist cause. So strong was this mood that Holliday was investigated by the FBI -- and cleared via a personal message from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to studio chief Harry Cohn. Audiences today will likely wonder what all the fuss was about, particularly the reaction of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who thought Holliday's Best Actress Oscar was an immoral disgrace.