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Eliza Doolittle Meets Betty Boop.
on June 1, 2002
From the moment she enters the picture and screeches "Whaaaaattttt??", in a voice that could peel wallpaper, you can't take your eyes off Judy Hollidays "Billie Dawn." In this movie adaptation of the Garson Kanin play, directed by famed "womans director" George Cukor, she takes a wonderfully written character and turns her into a classic movie performance that no one else could have played. Her crass, monosyllabic Billie is SO dumb, that, when her corrupt bully boyfriend, played by Broderick Crawford, first proposes to the owlish journalist, played by William Holden, that he refine Billies rough edges so she can be presented into the Washington society that he hopes to manipulate, well...you wonder how he can EVER mold this dim-witted clay. Along the way, she, for the first time, begins to actually THINK, and her development of a conscience and awareness of her self worth is as moving as it is comical. The backdrop of corrupt politicians who can be bought for a price (some things never change), provides the moral (immoral) climate in which Billie has unquestioningly (til now) existed. Seeing her grow into someone with character is touching to behold. In the scene towards the end, in the Rotunda, where she finally realizes the changes within her, and the potential for the "good" in life, it always brings a tear to the eye. As everyone knows, Judy Holliday beat out the toughest competition ever, Bette Davis for "All; About Eve", and Gloria Swanson for "Sunset Boulevard", to win the best actress Oscar for 1950. A good friend of mine, who knew Judy Holliday, and is presently writing a play about her life, corroborates what many already know, that she was an intensely serious and intelligent woman. Tragically, she died much too young. But her film roles will always ensure her reputation as a brilliant actress, with her portrayal of "Billie Dawn" being the role for which she'll most be remembered. There will never be another Judy Holliday, nor another Billie Dawn. (Don't even MENTION the Melanie Griffith remake!) Thanks for all the joy, dear lady.