It’s a LONG time ago but I was fortunate enough to to see George Cukor In person when he was interviewed at the National Film Theatre in London.
The NFT was full to capacity and it was recorded for television.
I took some hurried notes as he was asked questions by John Gillett of the British Film Institute. All the folllowing quotes are directly from the famed director.
He started out as a dialogue director on ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT:
“They shipped out stage directors. The hardy ones – me – stayed!”
He was of course asked about GONE WITH THE WIND:
“I prepared the picture, with the sets, the clothes and casting – and directed for a week or two before I was put off…….Vivian Leigh was a great friend of mine – an adorable girl.”
He emphasised that he was a director, not a writer:
“The script means a great deal to me. I don’t improvise – I work from a script – that’s because I was trained that way. I don’t believe in improvisation, maybe because I started in the theatre.”
On working with Garbo:
“She had humour, she was very precise, very prompt and intelligent -charming to work with. We did two pictures, one was a success, one wasn’t. The second (TWO FACED WOMAN) has improved in time. She never worked anywhere else but Metro. She trusted people there.”
On Norma Shearer:
“A very disciplined actress – married to an extraordinary man ( Irving Thalberg). He watched her career with love and care.”
On the “ Moviola” series:
”That was a load of crap! I really didn’t like it….there certainly was no great love affair between Selznick and Crawford.”
Mr.Cukor expressed his dislike of the label, ‘A woman’s director’:
“It made one a kind of superior beautician.”
That wonderful shot of Cukor and the cast of THE WOMEN. Wish it had been in colour.
Directing Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn on the set of HOLIDAY.
Script in hand, directing Tracy and Hepburn on KEEPER OF THE FLAME.
With Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman. GASLIGHT.
Great poster for A DOUBLE LIFE.
Cukor won his only Oscar for MY FAIR LADY.
MOVIOLA was a 1980 three part television series based in part on Garson Kanin’s 1979 novel of the same name.
The three episodes were called “The Silent Lovers” ( about Garbo and John Gilbert); “This Year’s Blonde” (Marilyn Monroe); “The Scarlett O’Hara Wars.”
A slew of Hollywood stars were portrayed , not always very well, but I recall it was an entertaining series, if only for all the name-dropping!
(There are copies of ‘The Silent Lovers’ and ‘The Scarlett O’Hara Wars’ on You Tube.)
Morgan Brittany as Vivien Leigh and Tony Curtis as David Selznick. (Morgan had played Leigh in an earlier TV show).
Comedy, romance, drama, musicals, George Cukor did it all.
Excellent. I’m more than a little jealous that you had the privilege of seeing Cukor in person, it must have been a great experience.
It is amazing to think I actually saw and listened to one of the greats. I wonder if any of those televised NFT lectures have been kept.
The NFT interview was recorded by Tony Tyler for the BBC.
It was broadcast on 6th April 1981 as part of the Radio 4 “Kaleidoscope” series, and lasted around 75 minutes.
An excerpt here (8:40).
NFT transcript (you have to register).
Gillett/Cukor interview from 1965.
A press photo for the Monroe Moviola.
Interview with Constance Forslund about her part.
Thanks for all the links, Bob.
Thanks so much for this. He was one of the greatest film directors, especially of comedy but also wonderful with serious subjects. If you’re really first-rate at comedy (especially farce, its hardest form), you can ultimately do it all and very well, too.
I love how he moved from the big MGM films to the delightful comedies with Judy Holliday. I read he made about 8 films with Kate Hepburn.
Plus two TV movies – “Love Among The Ruins” (1975) and “The Corn Is Green” (1979).
Yes – I loved Holliday and Aldo Ray (sp) in “The Marrying Kind”, which surely is also one of Cukor’s best.
I was at that lecture too and the Shearer comments were in response to a question of mine. He added ‘She isn’t too well these days’.
Good for you, getting a question .
Well no-one had mentioned Norma so I thought I would!