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Born Yesterday

4.6 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Judy Holliday won the 1950 Best Actress Oscar(r) for her brilliant and funny role as Billie Dawn, thedumb blonde girlfriend of Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford), a corrupt millionaire junk dealer. Brock, a man with social ambitions and a willingness to do anything to fulfill them, is embarrassed by Billie's crass behavior and lack of social sophistication. So he arranges for her to take a crash course in culture from a handsome, young journalist (William Holden). Billie blossoms under his kind tutelage and becomes increasingly aware of her role as a pawn in Brock's crooked business deals. Brockis surprised and outraged when Billie suddenly refuses to cooperate any longer. This is a classic with unforgettable performances.


Judy Holliday's Oscar-winning performance is just one of the reasons to watch this terrific 1950 comedy, which is equally acclaimed for its deliciously witty screenplay (based on Garson Kanin's long-running Broadway hit) and George Cukor's silky-smooth direction. Holliday plays Billie Dawn, the floozie fiancée of a junk-dealer millionaire (Broderick Crawford), who is trying to make a good impression among the Washington, D.C., politicos he's hoping to influence. To ensure that Billie gets properly "culturefied," the corrupt Crawford hires a D.C. journalist (William Holden) to give the seemingly dim-witted blonde a crash course in politics, history, literature, and--you guessed it--true love. Billie's not nearly as dumb as she seems, of course, and before long she's graduated from pawn to sassy queen on her husband's political chessboard.

Watching Born Yesterday is a crash course in itself--an object lesson in how low American screen comedy has fallen from these delirious heights. The movie's funny even when there's a pause in the golden dialogue, such as when Holliday tests Crawford's patience in a sublimely comedic round of gin rummy. There's not a single scene in which Holliday (reprising her Broadway role) isn't simply perfect, the cogs turning smoothly behind her dim expressions and coarsely high-pitched squeal. Suave as ever, Holden is her match made in heaven, and Crawford is a brute who's too stupid to be genuinely malevolent. Put 'em all together and you've got a timeless classic, so flawless that a 1993 remake was instantly doomed to pale comparisons. --Jeff Shannon

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Product Details

  • Actors: Broderick Crawford, William Holden, Howard St. John, Judy Holliday
  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Producers: S. Sylvan Simon
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 15, 2000
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003L9CI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,412 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Born Yesterday" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Gentile on June 1, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Delightful! Hilarious!

How often do we get to see a perfect performance? We're closing in on a century of movies and, as we can see, it's pretty rare. So flawless was Judy Holliday's portrayal of Billie Dawn that, as a relative unknown, she came from behind to beat out two heavyweights for the Oscar in 1950. I'm sure this was due in no small part to her refining the role for nearly three years on stage.

Everything else fell into place as well. Broderick Crawford was just excellent as Harry Brock. Crawford is able to swing you back and forth between anger and sympathy for his character. Not an easy task! William Holden is perfectly calm and reserved as Paul Verrall. His character forms a wonderful opposite to Billie. And, with direction, George Cukor worked his usual magic.

Most of the themes are timeless. A person lives in ignorant bliss until their eyes are opened. They realize that there is a better life for them and begin their struggle for improvement. They discover that their greatest opponents to advancement are not those above them, but those at their current level.

A few of the elements are dated. Particularly Jim's speech about how hard it is to find a corrupt politician in Washington. Wow. Maybe that was the case in 1950. Now it's impossible to find an honest one.

It all comes back to Judy Holliday. This movie is her vehicle.

It is one of the most quoteable movies I've ever seen. "Would ya do me a favor, Harry? Drop. Dead." "You're just not couth!" "I should take this pencil and draw a circle around YOU!" "If there's a fire and I call the engines... who am I double-crossin? THE FIRE??"

She was a rare talent who we were only able to see for a very short time. I love all of her movies and this one, Born Yesterday, is my favorite.

Thank you Judy!!!!!!
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Format: VHS Tape
Judy Holiday won an Oscar for this film, and no wonder: her performance of Billie Dawn, a "dumb broad" who suddenly wises up in a most unexpected way, is certainly one of the finest and most original film performances in 20th Century American cinema. The story, from the stage success, concerns a crass junk yard tycoon (Broderick Crawford) who goes to Washington to buy a Senator--and promptly considers that his blonde-bimbo mistress Billie Dawn (Holiday) lacks enough poise for such refined circles. He accordingly entices a reporter (William Holden) to "smarten her up." But things soon get out of hand: once her mind is awakened, Billie Dawn begins to perceive her lover and his political intrigues in a very different light.
The comedy is genuine, and Crawford and Holden are as memorable as Holiday herself. But there is some serious stuff behind the hilarity: issues of personal integrity, honesty, and civic duty become increasingly important as Billie evolves, and ultimately she must make a choice between her old life and a new one. The film very neatly balances its comic elements with its serious side, and neither predominate nor throw the film off center; director Cukor steers a perfect course. A must-see and a must-own.
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Format: DVD
This was a real surprise to me!...although George Cukor is one the best directors of all time and I'm very fond of most of his pictures, Judy Holliday was never one of my favourites, especially because I hadn't seen much of her films, which aren't many.
Here, she simply stoles the show as the dumb, vulgar, low-brow, blonde, ex-chorus girl (Billie, née "Emma") and lover of an unscrupulous and corrupt "junk" millionaire, played with great skill by Broderick Crawford, one year after his flawless Academy Award Winner performance in the excellent "All the King's Men", who learns "how to think and to use her brains" with the aid of writer Paul Verrell (William Holden).
Holliday won an Academy Award for this performance, in one of the most polemical winnings of the A.A. History, because she defeated both Bette Davis (for "All About Eve") and Gloria Swanson (for "Sunset Boulevard"), and many people felt she shouldn't have won. Anyway, there's no denying that she gave and expert and very funny interpretation of the sassy Billie, with all the mannerisms, voice inflections, hollering,etc, especially in her scenes with Crawford.
You must watch this wonderful classic comedy.
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