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For the 1993 Hollywood Pictures remake, see Born Yesterday
Born Yesterday is a 1950 film based on the play of the same name by Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. The screenplay was written by Albert Mannheimer with uncredited contributions from Kanin.

A corrupt tycoon brings his showgirl mistress with him to Washingtonmarker when he tries to buy a Congressman. He hires a journalist to educate his girlfriend, and in the process, she learns just how corrupt her boyfriend is.


Uncouth tycoon Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) goes to Washington, D.C. with his brassy mistress, Emma 'Billie' Dawn (Judy Holliday), and his crooked lawyer, Jim Devery (Howard St. John), to "influence" a politician or two. The lawyer also presses Harry to marry Billie on the grounds that a wife cannot testify against her husband.

Harry becomes disgusted with Billie's ignorance and lack of manners (though he himself is much worse) and hires a tutor for her, journalist Paul Verrall (William Holden). Blossoming under Paul's encouragement, Billie turns out to be much smarter than anybody knew and begins thinking for herself. The two fall in love.

Meanwhile, Devery had persuaded Harry to sign over many of his assets to Billie to hide them from the government. When Harry needs to get them back, he comes into conflict with Billie's new-found independence. She and Paul use her leverage to escape from Harry's domination; she promises to give him back his property little by little as long as he leaves them alone. Billie and Paul marry.


Awards and honors

The film won the Academy Award for Best Actress (Holliday) and was nominated for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay.

The film also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical or Comedy (Holliday), and was nominated for the awards for Motion Picture Drama, Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama (Holliday), and Best Motion Picture Director (Cukor).

The film also won a Jussi Award (the main film award in Finlandmarker) for Foreign Actress (Holliday), and was nominated for the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award and the Writers Guild of America Best Written American Comedy Award (Mannheimer).

The British film magazine Picturegoer awarded the film its Seal of Merit, but warned its readers that Holliday's character is "from New York's East Side, and speaks in a baby Bronx voice that is like the tinkling of many tiny, tuneless cymbals." The magazine admired Holliday's performance and spoke of her in the same breath as Carole Lombard.

American Film Institute recognition

In popular culture

  • In the episode "Stage 5" of The Sopranos, J.T. (Tim Daly) cites this movie as the inspiration for the mob boss character in the movie "Cleaver".


  1. David Thomson Have You Seen...?, 2008, London: Allen Lane, p118

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