Ep 8: Born Yesterday

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Story Analysis & Ratings:

Lucy says: 2 Pops ~ An excellent example of how preaching about issues can ruin a perfectly good story. Judy Holliday was lovely and charming and earned that Oscar, but the movie didn’t quite make it. Lucy’s rating breakdown: Structure: 3, Comedy: 1, Romance: 2

Jenny says: 2 Pops ~ If you want to send a message, call Western Union. Or use e-mail. Anything but your story. Jenny’s rating breakdown: Structure: 3, Comedy: 2 (for Judy, otherwise 1), Romance: 1

Blog Poll Rating: TBD

Movie Info:

Release Date: May 28,1951

Story: Corrupt businessman Harry thinks his mistress should talk better so he can bribe more congressmen, so he gets her William Holden as a tutor. He never had a chance anyway; his mistress Billie is Judy Holiday. Do me a favor, Harry. Drop dead. Release Date: May 28,1951 Director: George Cukor Writers: Garson Kanin, Alfred Mannheimer. More info at IMDb.

26 responses to “Ep 8: Born Yesterday”

  1. I couldn’t get this one at the library and didn’t have time this week to do a wider search. I did enjoy the podcast. I always learn something from your discussions on what makes a romance work in a film or book. Thanks so much.

  2. Jenny, you will let us know once you’ve watched the remake with Melanie Griffin. I’d like to hear your take on that.

    (Personally I loved John Goodman in the remake).

  3. Hello ladies. I have been adoring your books for years and lurking in the outer recesses of your blogs for months now. I have always felt a little like the nerd hanging out at the edge of the cool kids’ circle, thrilled to be allowed to listen in but not daring to speak, lest she be detected and the magic moment broken. But I’ve got boobs now and my braces are off, so I’m gonna jump right into the conversation and pretend like I’ve been cool all along.

    I am a devoted Judy Holliday fan and I love her in this movie. Even so, I agree that it is not a very compelling romantic comedy. To me, Judy is beyond a shadow of a doubt, the spark that makes this movie catch fire. Which is why you do NOT, under any circumstances want to see the 1993 remake. No spark. I thought I better get that warning in before anyone thought that a later version would have fixed any of the problems found in this version. Trust me on this one. Used-to-be nerds don’t lie.

    The romance – what there was of it – melts the motherboard of my little non-nerd heart. William Holden (Paul) is adorable in his glasses (it’s a nerd thing). And although it appears that Paul is doing all of the teaching and Billie all of the learning, there is a moment where I choose to believe that she enlightens him. It’s at the very end of the scene where they are eating the ice cream bars and discussing his paper/article. After he explains what he was trying to say in the first sentence, she looks at him and says “Well, why didn’t you just say so?” She walks off and the look on his face says (to me) that he realizes he could have (and probably should have) made his point more simply. But that is only one moment, in one scene. It would have been nice to see more of that sort of thing.

    And I will watch this movie again if only to watch Billie playing gin or to hear her say to Paul (in the bedroom, when he tells her that he doesn’t think things should get any more complicated than they already are) “I oughta take this pencil and make a circle around you.” Here’s to circles around men everywhere. I’m just sayin’.

    Other than that, I don’t really have anything to add to what you’ve already said in the podcast. I think you two (and all of the Cherries and Betties) are totally awesome (Groovy? Rad? Phat? Not sure which word to use – I haven’t been cool for very long) and I am enjoying being allowed to hang on the fringes of (and even join) your circle.

  4. Yeah, he’s kind of awesome.

    Did you ever see him when he guest-starred on the West Wing?

  5. I liked that moment, too, Jeannie, especially as a writing teacher. She was so right. And welcome out of lurk!

  6. Thanks, Eve!

    Lani and I just watched one of her favorite old movies, The Mad Miss Manton. She still loves it dearly. I thought it was awful. Which lead to an indepth discussion of why obviously flawed movies work for some people (I love The January Man even though it was written by two completely different people and the ending is awful; Lani and I both love The Ref) and are just obviously flawed for others. A lot of it comes down to characters, I think. Lani loved the heroine in this movie and I thought she was TDTL. Lani loved the hero and I thought he was a jerk. Sooner or later we’re going to find one that I love the characters in and she can’t get past them. (She keeps pointing out that she didn’t like Hot Fuzz and I loved it, but I think that was the gore factor, not character.) So we’re still cogitating on that one.

  7. I think I figured this one out. It’s a morality play. And morality plays get a pretty bad rap, but . . . I don’t like it when someone preaches to me, however, I’ll sit down and listen for awhile if someone is entertaining while doing it. Seriously, how does one learn to be a better person if not through family stories, good literature, and sitting down and thinking it through?

    I really like this movie because it seems to say it’s never too late to improve oneself. And also, it’s so funny to see how many of the problems we have today were also problems back then . . . and society hasn’t collapsed before the Visigoths (or whatever). Not so funny to think we STILL haven’t come up with a good, widespread solution for those problems, too.

    I think I’ll be able to listen to the podcast a little later today, and I’ll be back. Love those podcasts!

  8. Thank you for loving the podcasts.

    The thing we keep going back to is that for the purposes of this study, we’re looking at what makes a great romantic comedy. This may be a morality play, I like that take on it, but it’s not good romantic comedy, in the same way that Bringing Up Baby is excellent farce but terrible romantic comedy. We’re looking for stories that deliver the emotionality of the romance, that trip with the lovers to see how they meet and fall in love and commit to making it for the long run, while also delivering legitimate laughs not just amusement. It doesn’t have to be Dodgeball (currently my vote for Funniest Movie Ever), but it does have to be funny. And this one wasn’t. Billie was charming and witty, but the movie itself was pedantic and preachy. So morality play yes, romantic comedy, no.

  9. I changed the poll to emphasize that we’re looking a romantic comedy in specific, not movies in general.

    Still getting the hang of this. Sorry.

  10. Hi,

    Sorry to take this slightly off topic — but not much. I still don’t have this movie. So i have not listened to the podcast, nor have I voted. I believe this may have been one of the harder ones to find maybe? I believe there was only one or two in the system when I looked it up. So that explains my lack of vote.

    Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed looking at all the movies in a new light, and seeing new ones.

  11. Oh, good, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
    Born Yesterday is pretty much a classic, all those Oscars, but it’s an OLD classic and frankly, I don’t think it wears as well as some of the others, so that may be why.
    As I remember, Desk Set is really good. She said, crossing her fingers. Maybe we should have done Adam’s Rib. Also excellent. As I remember.

  12. My pleasure, maybe I’ll come across the ad you love so much one day.

    I love Hot Fuzz and the general Ice Cream and Blood trilogy – can’t wait for the third one to come out. Btw, if you liked it – Zombieland is funny too (Woody Harrelson -priceless). Oh, and there there is Spaced…weird but awesome (BBC show from 90’s). I think it’s available on hulu.

  13. Zombieland was too much for me, but Krissie (Anne Stuart) loves it. She showed it to Lucy and me one night and we both said, “Erp,” and quit about ten minutes in.

  14. lol aww sorry about that but it gets better – I promise. Bill Murray makes an appearance.

  15. Oh man, it’s been a monster week; I hope I can get to the podcast today . . . if I don’t pass out first. (-: It’s so very nice to have this time for myself, and the only way I can LET myself have it is by justifying it as a learning experience. (-: Sad, I know, but at least I’m good at justifying.

    I really like this program of movies, I love tweeting with y’all as it’s going on, and I love hearing your takes on the movie during the podcast. Don’t worry if you are working out the bugs.

    I think it’s good to concentrate on the rom-com aspects; I think it’s also educational to talk about why it works as a movie — just briefly, because rom com is the main focus. And you guys do that.

  16. Podcast comments: Optimum? You guys have been doing great. 15 minutes is either too long or way too short.

    Love the bull-fighting metaphor! Exactly on target there.

    I saw Billie as dumb America, but didn’t quite catch the special interests vs. journalism vs. hypocritical sell-out until the podcast.

    The scrap iron cartel probably made more sense (or had more resonance) with wartime Americans than us.

    Loved the clarification on romance arcs, and what makes a romance.

    See you tomorrow!

  17. Okay, just now managed to watch Born Yesterday (got it from the library) and I have to say I don’t believe in the romance for a moment. They are so far apart. He is going to get so tired of her after about 3 months, and she’s going to get fed up with his directing her thoughts.

    So, as a Romance, it fails for me entirely. And as a comedy, well, kind of dark, eh?

    But oh, how I love Educating Rita. Not a romance; just a student and teacher who grow and change over the years. And that’s a scenario that might have worked for Paul and Billie, without the forced romance.

  18. You know, I remembered Educating Rita as a romance. I could have sworn he falls for her.
    Of course there was an episode of Cupid that was Education Rita with a romance, so that may be it.

  19. @Jenny,

    I LOVE January Man. It is such a weird movie. Kind of an anti-thriller. But pretty much anything with Alan Rickman or Kevin Kline gets my vote. But a movie with Alan Rickman AND Kevin Kline? No way I could not love that.

  20. They had me right up to the end of The January Man when they did the slapstick climax. That was just awful. They filmed it during the writer’s strike so Shanley couldn’t do the rewrites, so I blame the director.

  21. Hi, it’s me, catching up on old podcasts months later… So yeah. I’ve seen this movie before, own a copy, and the problem with the “romance” is that they didn’t draw it out… at all! Why on earth did they have them smooch in the elevator, like, the second time they met? They could have saved all that up! Silly screenwriters. I know Paul (Wiliam Holden) doesn’t have any love for Harry (Broderick Crawford) but it seems a little sleazy for him to be kissing a girl who’s already got a man, either way. It’s not like she’s making any move to get away from Harry at that point yet, and they didn’t have enough time to fall for each other at that point either. The romance is where this movie fails.

    And yes, I just listened to the podcast, and I agree, it also fails miserably with the message, because I’m pretty dense and even I didn’t need to be hit so hard over the head with it at every turn. 😉

    I think I’d classify this as a drama, really. A dramedy at the most.

    Have any of you seen “Bells Are Ringing?” More classic Judy Holliday, in another flawed movie — sadly, her last. That thing was a mess, but it’s adorable just because of her.