Favorite Cukor Scene

As a way of promoting and honoring the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s now-launching George Cukor series, I was just asked to name my favorite Cukor film. I know what I’m supposed to select. Pat and Mike. A Star Is Born. Holiday. The Philadelphia Story. Definitely not Let’s Make Love or My Fair Lady. But I have a soft spot for Cukor’s last film, Rich and Famous (’81). Not because it’s his “best” work, but because it contains the most openly gay scene he ever shot (i.e., Jackie Bissett doing the hunky Matt Lattanzi, whom she’s only met a couple of hours earlier, in her hotel room). By all reports Cukor was more or less pleasantly closeted all his life, but of course this had to be unpleasant. So two years before he died he “came out,” in a sense, with this scene. I remember discussing this with a gay journalist friend after we saw Rich and Famous at Magno Screening 30 years ago.

  • Perfect Tommy

    Might go with Gaslight as my favorite Cukor (if I couldn’t go with Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind.)

    • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

      If I were to choose conventionally I’d probably pick Holiday. I love Katharine Hepburn‘s spirit all through it, and when Cary Grant does the back-flip.

    • Michael Gebert

      Cukor barely worked on Oz. Wind, yes, he pretty much did the first half.

      • brenkilco

        The reasons given for his discharge from GWTW vary. The explanation contained in Cukor’s bio- don’t recall the title- is fairly jaw dropping. But at this remove who knows what’s true.

        • Michael Gebert

          Well, who knows if the Kenneth Anger version has any truth to it, but it didn’t take much for Selznick to replace his directors on his best day.

        • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ Jeffrey Wells

          Gable wanted his hunting buddy Victor Fleming to direct GWTW. In part, I read, because he didn’t feel comfortable with a “woman’s director” running the show. And partly because…I forget, some gay actor gave Gable a blowjob once and Cukor knew about it or some such shit?

    • brenkilco

      Gaslight is good. How great is young Lansbury? The initial cut apparently had a lot of problems. Selznick, wanting to protect his Bergman investment, shot off one of his epic memos detailing plot and continuity problems and begging that the final scene between Boyer and Bergman be rewritten and reshot because he believed she could win an Oscar. For once he was spot on. All his suggestions were heeded and she won. I’ve always thought that Cukor’s refusal to let the audience see Cotton beat the hell out of Boyer at the climax was a mistake.

  • Bob Strauss

    Tracy eating the gun in Adam’s Rib. Kinda phallic, now that you mention it.

    • patches23

      Love Adam’s Rib. So many great characters, but David Wayne’s little troll is superb. Tracy must have loved working opposite him. How many different ways can you deliver wanting to deck somebody.

  • Mr. F.

    Cukor would’ve loved the chance to direct INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS.

  • berg

    What Price Hollywood?the slow motion shot of the guy falling down

  • moviewatcher

    I haven’t gone into Cukor’s filmography much, but The Philadelphia Story is truly amazing. One of the best screenplays ever written (even though I’d probably have scratched the very last page, which was mandatory because of the Hays Code, if I remember correctly)

    • brenkilco

      Philadelphia Story is smooth and entertaining. The thing is everybody in it acts as if its the wittiest thing since The Importance of Being Ernest. But, honestly, can you recall one truly great line?

      • moviewatcher

        The answer to that is an unquestionable yeeees!
        “You have a good mind, a pretty face, a disciplined body that does what you tell it to. You have everything it takes to make a lovely woman except the one essential – an understanding heart. And without that, you might just as well be made of bronze.”

        “You talk so big and tough and then you write like this. Which is which?”

        And many other great exchanges.

        • brenkilco

          I didn’t say Barry wasn’t literate. Just that the Philadelphia Story is supposed to be a sophisticated comedy and I have trouble recalling any dialogue that was particularly witty, funny or even clever. Not as yar as it thinks it is.

      • Kat

        “This is one of those days that the pages of history teach us are best spent lying in bed.”

      • Michael Gebert

        “She was yar.”

        To be honest, I think Holiday has more heart (and is less stagy).

  • http://robertcashill.blogspot.com BobCashill

    THE MARRYING KIND (52), with Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray convincingly (and surprisingly) well-matched as a struggling couple, is a keeper. Ray is in that same year’s PAT AND MIKE, the only time you’ll see Charles Bronson in a Tracy and Hepburn movie (a good one, too).

  • Aaron B

    I would probably have to go with “The Philadelphia Story,” but a special mention to “Born Yesterday,” which I think is extremely entertaining.

  • Raygo

    Rich and Famous is seriously under-rated. It’s not a classic by any stretch, but Candice Bergen displayed some serious comedic chops in the film. I’ve been looking for a DVD of it for a while.