88 Great Directors: George Cukor

“You direct a couple of successful pictures with women stars, so you become a ‘woman’s director’…Direct a sentimental little picture and all you get is sob stuff. I know I’ve been in and out of those little compartments. Heaven knows everyone has limitations. But why make them narrower than they are?”


What Got This Director Here?
: Body of work.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Does Wizard of Oz count? If not, Star is Born.

What Did I Watch: Gaslight.

Where Does He Fit: The original version of Gaslight is considered better than the American remake that became more popular, and while I suppose I can kind of see where those opinions come from, I am frankly inclined to believe that both are just all right, with the way they are conceived not really lending oneself to the most charitable interpretations. If anything, the Hollywood remake has the fun of seeing Ingrid Bergman’s big starmaking moment alongside Charles Boyer (not as good as he could be) and Angela Lansbury (not that good either), whereas the 1940 edition has Diana Wynyard, who is now forever associated with the shitty Cavalcade. Both versions of the story have things figured out for our leading lady by an interloper who vanishes from the climax, an awfully convenient creation who should be written out, and each has a maid who frankly doesn’t get to do as much as she should. It goes on like that, with little details that are annoyingly snipped out in favor of some more atmospheric fluttering about. Cukor’s on hack duty here, although Bergman does give a performance that would have made a worthy runner up for the Oscar…

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Most Valuable Asset: Skill with actors in a rigid system.
Most Excited For: Adam’s Rib.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Milos Forman, expatriate.

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