George Stevens

The early Stevens are quite good; Gunga Din is a gas. I don't like the later films, when he got gigantic.

Parts of The Greatest Story Ever Told were directed by David Lean. And Max Von Sydow is impressive when he prophesies--he brings a Bergmanesque gloom to the moment.

ted fontenot: Stevens can get heavy-handed, even ponderous, but I think he has quite an oeuvre--varied, high quality. Gunga Din is a fine movie--everyone is good, even the stereotypes. It's fun to see Grant just cut loose--he essentially pretends he's doing an extended Vaudeville routine. Hawks, I believe, was set to direct the movie--he had it storyboarded and all fixed up to do, then he pissed off the head of the studio or some big producer.

Comedies I like: Vivacious Lady, with Ginger Rogers and James Stewart right before his breakthrough. I find Rogers unappetizing when she gets coarse (probably something like the way Jack Lemmon affects some people when he becomes morally outraged), but Stewart is pitch perfect--a great drunk scene to compare to the one he has in The Philadelphia Story.

I've already lauded at length The More the Merrier. If it ain't quite as good as Bringing up Baby and His Girl Friday, or the best of Sturges or Lubitsch, I'd hate to live on the difference. Woman of the Year is really good, too. I'm not a big Tracy fan (and I like Hepburn a lot in some things and not at all in others--this is up her alley, though), but he's flawless here. Still, Stewart, Grant, Fonda, or McCrea would have been much better--more depth and magnetism with these guys.

The Talk of the Town is interesting. Kind of an intellectual, Shavian comedy. Unfortunately, it's Irwin Shaw, not GBS. But the best Irwin Shaw. Grant's character is really a plot device, pretty much like it was in The Philadelphia Story. The movie really belongs to Colman. But it's still good.

I even like some of his later more heavy stuff. Not A Place in the Sun, but definitely Shane and The Diary of Anne Frank. Both are powerful and well-crafted. Hell, I'm even a sucker for I Remember Mama.

Gunga Din might be the only way I'd like my stereotypes--not taken seriously, and played up for what they're comically worth. It's The Front Page set in India and it proves the plot is foolproof, even when transposed in another country.

Shane I tend to like, in a heavy-handed sort of way--can't not like whatsisname, Jack Palance grinning his way into his gloves like that. But Stevens used to have a lighter touch, like Lean (may be why they collaborated at one point, with Greatest Story).

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