166 Great Directors: George Stevens

“I just knew that if you engaged the audience with a promise that something would develop, you were in business. If not, you had to contrive automatic ridiculousness continuously. Comedy, in this sense, is all about preparation. Things have to be arranged and set up – cause and effect – and if the cause is apparent to the audience, they’ll stick with it until their sagacity is rewarded. It’s their intelligence that foresees things, while the comic character doesn’t.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Mostly Giant, but his body of work is impressive.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: A Place in the Sun.

What Did I Watch: The Talk of the Town/The More the Merrier.

Where Does He Fit: Stevens’ reputation as a middlebrow Hollywood man who got a little luckier than some of his peers is unfair, but Talk of the Town isn’t really a triumph, more like a fairly enjoyable film from the 40s that got a few too many Oscar nominations. Still fairly enjoyable thanks to Grant, Arthur, and Colman being game for both the drama and the jokes. An early scene taking place during a thunderstorm where a mill is on fire and a man escapes hints at something much grittier and darker before we settle into a pleasant drama/romance. No real complaints, but the sensibility is ultimately rather safe.

The More the Merrier, happily, finds Stevens on much less serious ground and having a ball doing it. Charles Coburn is remembered mostly for beating Claude Rains in Casablanca, but he was a great actor in his own right, so don’t take it out on him, especially when the movie as a whole is such a joy to watch, with stupid jokes like a character named Mr. Dingle and Jean Arthur having arguably the most fun she ever had in a picture, with a voice perfectly suited for this kind of comedy. It’s a comedy that’s not that funny (no screwball here), yet very funny. Roommate living is hard, and so is everyone’s dick when they’re looking at Joel McCrea I’M SORRY


Most Valuable Asset: Invisible style.
Most Excited For: Shane.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes. Underrated.

Coming Up Next: G.W. Pabst, head of Weimar Cinema.


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