Introduction: George Stevens (03:10)
This episode of “The Directors” revisits the work of Stevens. His most renowned films include “Giant,” “A Place in the Sun,” and “Shane.”
Early Life and Career (02:28)
Stevens was born to an acting family in 1904. His parents ran a playhouse and his father appeared in “Citizen Kane,” “Little Caesar” and other films. Stevens landed a job as assistant cameraman at Hal Roach Studios where he learned gag writing, cinematography, and other skills.
Directorial Debut (03:19)
After directing several short films, Stevens directed the comedy “Kentucky Kernels” for RKO in 1934. The movie was a vehicle for the vaudeville duo Wheeler & Woolsey. The following year, Stevens directed “Alice Adams,” starring Katharine Hepburn.
“Annie Oakley” (01:56)
Stevens directed the film starring Barbara Stanwyck and Preston Foster. On its surface the film is a western, but it defies strict categorization. Stevens meticulously recreates Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
“Swing Time" (03:21)
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in Stevens’ 1936 film. Stevens was a master of the close-up, but learned to shoot dance sequences with Astaire’s guidance.
"Quality Street" (03:56)
Stevens teamed up with Hepburn in 1937; the film did not do well at the box office. Stevens also made “A Damsel in Distress” that same year.
“Gunga Din” (02:50)
Stevens directed the film in 1937. The story is set in India and based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling. Stevens had a large budget and more than 600 extras at his disposal; the film was a hit.
“Vigil in the Night” (03:32)
Stevens directed Carole Lombard in the 1940 film. Lombard was known for screwball comedies, and her first serious role was risky. The romantic comedy, “Woman of the Year,” reunited Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. It was one of Stevens’ greatest films.
“The Talk of the Town” (03:55)
The comedic story of a love triangle stars Cary Grant, Ronald Colman, and Jean Arthur; Stevens shot two endings. Arthur returned in Stevens’ next comedy, “The More the Merrier.”
War and Post-War Films (03:28)
Stevens served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II, documenting the D-Day landings, the liberation of Paris, and atrocities committed at Dachau. His first post-war films were “I Remember Mama” and “A Place in the Sun"; Elizabeth Taylor stars in the latter.
The Stevens-directed western was released in 1953, starring Alan Ladd; it was Stevens' first color motion picture. Stevens wanted to depict realistic violence in the movie.
Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean star in the 1956 film. It is a tale about old America versus new America, with themes examining capitalism, wealth, and privilege.
"The Diary of Anne Frank" (02:09)
Stevens next the film that tells the true story of a Jewish teen and her family trying to survive in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Stevens uses the camera to capture the claustrophobia and dread felt by his subjects.
Stevens' Final Films (05:00)
Stevens assembled and all-star cast for “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” with Max von Sydow in the lead role. “The Only Game in Town” followed in 1970, starring Taylor and Warren Beatty. The director died of a heart attack in 1975.
Credits: George Stevens (00:40)
Credits: George Stevens
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