George Stevens

George Cooper Stevens (December 18, 1904 – March 8, 1975) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.[1]

George Stevens
George Stevens with his Oscar for directing Giant
Born
George Cooper Stevens

(1904-12-18)December 18, 1904
DiedMarch 8, 1975(1975-03-08) (aged 70)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
Occupationdirector, cinematographer, actor, writer, producer
Years active1915–1970
Spouse(s)Yvonne Howell (1930–1947)
Joan McTavish (1968–1975)
ChildrenGeorge Stevens, Jr.
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Director

Legion of Merit
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1954)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director

New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director

Among his most notable films are A Place in the Sun (1951; winner of six Academy Awards including Best Director), Shane (1953; Oscar nominated), Giant (1956; Oscar for Best Director), and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959; nominated for Best Director).

Biography

Film career

George Stevens[2] was born in Oakland, California, the son of Landers Stevens and Georgie Cooper, both stage actors. Drama critic Ashton Stevens and film director James W.Horne were his uncles. He also had two brothers, Jack, a cinematographer, and writer Aston Stevens. He learned about the stage from his parents and worked and toured with them on his path to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy short films, such as Bacon Grabbers (1929) and Night Owls (1930). His first feature film was The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble in 1933.

In 1934 he got his first directing job, the slapstick Kentucky Kernels. His big break came when he directed Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams in 1935. He went on in the late 1930s to direct several Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies, not only with the two actors together, but on their own. In 1940, he directed Carole Lombard in Vigil in the Night, and the film has an alternative ending for European audiences in recognition of World War II, which at the time the U.S. had not yet entered.

During World War II, Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a film unit from 1943 to 1946, under General Eisenhower.[3] His unit shot footage documenting D-Day—including the only Allied European Front color film of the war—the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Soviet forces at the Elbe River, as well as horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp and the Dachau concentration camp. Stevens also helped prepare the Duben and Dachau footage and other material for presentation during the Nuremberg Trials.[4] In 2008, his footage was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as an "essential visual record" of World War II.[5]

One result of his World War II experiences was that his subsequent films became more dramatic. The motion picture I Remember Mama from 1948 was the last movie that he made with comic scenes. He was responsible for such classic films as A Place in the Sun, Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank, Giant and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He ended his directing career with the 1970 film The Only Game in Town with Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor. In the same year, he was head of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival.[6] In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

Personal life

Stevens was the father of television and film writer-producer-director George Stevens, Jr., the first CEO and director of the American Film Institute. George Jr. produced and directed the documentary about his father George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey in 1984 and is the father of Stevens's grandson Michael Stevens (1966–2015), who was also a television and film producer-director.

Death

Stevens died following a heart attack on March 8, 1975, on his ranch in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.[8]

Awards

As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Stevens headed the U.S. Army Signal Corps unit that filmed the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For these contributions, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Stevens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1701 Vine Street. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, in 1951 for A Place in the Sun and in 1956 for Giant. He was also nominated in 1943 for The More the Merrier, in 1954 for Shane, and in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank.

Archives

The moving image collection of George Stevens is held at the Academy Film Archive. The film material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the George Stevens papers at the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library.[9]

Filmography

YearTitleProduction Co.CastNotes
1930Ladies LastHal Roach Studios3rd episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931Blood and ThunderHal Roach Studios4th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931High GearHal Roach Studios5th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931Air-TightHal Roach Studios7th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931Call a Cop!Hal Roach Studios8th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931Mama Loves PapaHal Roach Studios9th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1931The Kick-Off!Hal Roach Studios10th episode from the "Boy Friends" series
1932Who, Me?UniversalShort film
1932The Finishing TouchUniversalShort film
1932Boys Will Be BoysUniversalShort film
1933A Divorce CourtshipUniversalShort film
1933Family TroublesUniversalShort film
1933Rock-a-Bye CowboyUniversalShort film
1933Should Crooners MarryUniversalShort film
1933The Cohens and Kellys in TroubleUniversalGeorge Sidney/ Charles MurrayPart of "The Cohens and Kellys" comedy series
1933Room MatesUniversalShort film
1933Quiet Please!RKOShort film
1933Flirting in the ParkRKOJune Brewster/ Carol TevisPart of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1933What FurRKOShort film
1933Grin and Bear ItRKOShort film
1934Ocean SwellsRKOShort film
1934The Undie-WorldRKOJune Brewster/ Carol TevisPart of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1934Cracked ShotsRKOShort film
1934Hollywood PartyMGMHollywood RevueIn an attempt to salvage the film Harry Rapf hired Stevens, and 8 other directors, to direct a sequence for the film.
1934Bachelor BaitRKOStuart Erwin/ Rochelle Hudson
1934Kentucky KernelsRKORobert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ George McFarland
1935Bridal BailRKOJune Brewster/ Carol TevisPart of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1935Hunger PainsRKOJune Brewster/ Carol TevisPart of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series
1935LaddieRKO
1935The NitwitsRKORobert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ Betty Grable
1935Alice AdamsRKOKatharine Hepburn/ Fred MacMurray
1935Annie OakleyRKOBarbara Stanwyck
1936Swing TimeRKOFred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers
1937Quality StreetRKOKatharine Hepburn/ Franchot Tone
1937A Damsel in DistressRKOFred Astaire/ Joan Fontaine/ George Burns/ Gracie Allen
1938Vivacious LadyRKOGinger Rogers/ Jimmy Stewart
1939Gunga DinRKOCary Grant/ Douglas Fairbanks Jr./ Victor McLaglen/ Joan Fontaine
1940Vigil in the NightRKOCarole Lombard/ Brian Aherne/ Anne Shirley
1941Penny SerenadeColumbiaCary Grant/ Irene Dunne
1942Woman of the YearMGMSpencer Tracy/ Katharine Hepburn
1942The Talk of the TownColumbiaCary Grant/ Jean Arthur/ Ronald Colman
1943The More the MerrierColumbiaJean Arthur/ Charles Coburn/ Joel McCrea
1945That Justice Be DoneWar Activities CommitteeDocumentary/ Short film
1945Nazi Concentration CampsDocumentary
1945The Nazi PlanU.S. Council for the Prosecution of Axis CriminalityDocumentary
1948On Our Merry WayMiracle ProductionsAnthology story/ Co-directed a sequence
1948I Remember MamaRKOIrene Dunne
1951A Place in the SunParamountMontgomery Clift/ Elizabeth Taylor/ Shelley Winters
1952Something to Live ForParamountJoan Fontaine/ Ray Milland/
1953ShaneParamountAlan Ladd/ Jean Arthur/ Van HeflinTechnicolor film
1956GiantWarner Bros.Elizabeth Taylor/ Rock Hudson/ James DeanWarnercolor film
1959The Diary of Anne Frank20th Century FoxMillie Perkins/ Joseph Schildkraut/ Shelley Winters
1965The Greatest Story Ever ToldGeorge Stevens Prod.Max von SydowUltra Panavision 70 Technicolor film
1970The Only Game in Town20th Century FoxElizabeth Taylor/ Warren BeattyColor film

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilmResult
1942 Outstanding Motion Picture The Talk of the Town Sidney FranklinMrs. Miniver
1943 Outstanding Motion Picture The More the Merrier Hal B. WallisCasablanca
Best Director Michael CurtizCasablanca
1951 Best Motion Picture A Place in the Sun Arthur FreedAn American in Paris
Best Director Won
1953 Best Motion Picture Shane Buddy AdlerFrom Here to Eternity
Best Director Fred ZinnemannFrom Here to Eternity
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award Won
1956 Best Motion Picture Giant Mike ToddAround the World in 80 Days
Best Director Won
1959 Best Motion Picture The Diary of Anne Frank Sam ZimbalistBen-Hur (Posthumous)
Best Director William WylerBen-Hur

Notes

  1. Obituary Variety, March 12, 1975, page 79.
  2. "George Stevens | American director". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  3. Sinyard, Neil (2019). George Stevens: The Films Of a Hollywood Giant. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 91.
  4. Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, page 197
  5. Library of Congress "Cinematic Classics, Legendary Stars, Comedic Legends and Novice Filmmakers Showcase the 2008 Film Registry" News from the Library of Congress (30 December 2008)
  6. "Berlinale 1970: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  7. "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  8. She Could Be Chaplin!: The Comedic Brilliance of Alice Howell
  9. "George Stevens Collection". Academy Film Archive.

References

  • Cronin, Paul: George Stevens: Interviews. Jackson, MI, University Press of Mississippi, 2004. ISBN 1-57806-639-5
  • Moss, Marilyn Ann: Giant: George Stevens, a Life on Film. Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004. ISBN 0-299-20430-8
  • Petri, Bruce: A Theory of American Film: The Films and Techniques of George Stevens. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1987. ISBN 0-8240-0070-6
  • Richie, Donald: George Stevens: An American Romantic. New York, Taylor & Francis, 1984 (reprint of 1970 original). ISBN 0-8240-5773-2
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
George Seaton
President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
1958–1959
Succeeded by
B. B. Kahane


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