"Born Yesterday" -- a movie for our time

Born Yesterday is one of the best movies of all time. I’m talking about the 1950 version starring Judy Holliday, Paul Douglas, and William Holden. I haven’t seen the Melanie Griffith version (and don’t plan to).

If you can catch it on TCM or some other place, don’t miss it. Even if you’ve seen it a zillion times as I have, I guarantee that today you will view it with different eyes. Here’s the gist of the plot:

The first dozen or so times I saw it over the years, I thought (rightly so) that the corrupt businessman Harry Brock was a caricature. I focused on the lighter side of the plot-- the lessons being given to the not-so-dumb blond Billie (Judy won an Oscar for her role) by the gorgeous William Holden (in his absolute smooth-talking prime).

But today when I watched it, when I looked at Harry Brock, I saw Donald Trump, sadly, not a caricature, but in fact, an accurate representation of the language, attitudes, and behavior of the current President of the United States. When Harry successfully buys a Senator, brags about how he always gets what he wants, displays his ignorance of government with pride, scorns reading (and even tears up some books because they make him realize how stupid he is), flies off the handle at loyal close staffers-- holy shit, I felt like weeping. This is the man we have in the White House right now: Harry Brock.

In the past, too, I never noticed how patriotic this movie is, and not in a nationalistic, “America First” sort of way (which is NOT patriotism). As William Holden takes Judy around to important monuments in Washington, D.C., gives her books to read, introduces her to the Founding Fathers, and explains the principles upon which the United States was created, you are reminded of the idealism that underlay our government institutions. And you realize how those principles and ideals have been shat upon by the current administration.

Twice in the movie you hear the quote read aloud that is inscribed in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Each time I heard those words, I felt my heart sink when contemplating how thump and the Republican Congress have desecrated our government, removed the US from its position of wise leadership in the world, and turned our country into a power hostile to knowledge, history, education, immigrants, and indeed, our own citizens suffering from poverty and ill health.

God help us all.

Well, the nation survived there period in which the movie was made, so there’s that?

I love that move.

Why don’t you take your political screed to the right forum for such things?

The post is an accurate description of the movie, and is drawing parallels between the work and this society, a valid discussion for this forum.

It’s a political statement more than a movie review.

I agree with a lot of the OP, but I think the movie is terribly classist. The source of corruption is an uneducated, uncouth junk dealer. The hero of the movie is a cultured, educated man who saves the damsel from this lout by doing things like taking her to a Beethoven concert.

The movie was made in 1950, but even then, a senator was more likely to be bought by an upper-class, wealthy industrialist or the head of a union than by a junk dealer.

It’s classist to introduce someone to the music of Beethoven? That’s ridiculous, great art knows no class, it can be enjoyed by all. Wonderful movie, Holliday, Crawford and Holden are all at the top of their game.

I didn’t say that. It’s not William Holden’s character who is classist. It’s the story that portrays William Holden’s character as rescuing Judy Holliday’s character from a boorish, uneducated junk dealer by introducing her to culture. Despite your assertion that Beethoven can be enjoyed by all, we know that Broderick Crawford’s character would never enjoy it, because he’s just an uneducated junk dealer. It’s not me saying this - it’s the movie saying it.

It’s about a movie, so Cafe Society. A mod can move it if it doesn’t belong here.

Judy Holliday is brilliantly hilarious in that film, but that’s to be expected, since she performed that same role in the play.

I understand that she was, in fact, a genius with an IQ of over 165.

This is an idiotic post by someone who no doubt fills their mind with fake news sources like NBC and the New York Times. You want sleaze, stupidity and corruption, it’s spelled Hillary.
Of course the film was made when the Senator from Pendegast was in the White House.


I’m waiting for the gritty action-packed reboot, Bourne Yesterday.

That last part is a reference to Truman. Tom Perdergast (note correct spelling) was a political boss in Missouri and it was widely speculated how much influence he had over Truman’s political career up to and including the White House.

The rest sounds like the wailing of a singed Trump fan but it might have been intended ironically.

That was the part I was wondering about. Where’s that irony emoticon?

And, embarrassingly., the actual spelling is Pendergast.

Have never heard of it until now. Sounds interesting. I will include the DVD on my next Amazon shipment.


Make sure you get the 1950 version with Judy Holliday, Paul Douglas, and William Holden. NOT the Melanie Griffith version.