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George Stevens - A Filmmaker's Journey
George Stevens - A Filmmaker's Journey
Actors: Jean Arthur, Fred Astaire, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Genres: Documentary
NR     2004     1hr 50min

The director's son put together this outstanding documentary of his father's life and work. In addition to interviews with actors and contemporaries (Fred Astaire, Warren Beatty, Frank Capra, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn,...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jean Arthur, Fred Astaire, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Biography, Film History & Film Making
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/07/2004
Original Release Date: 05/03/1985
Theatrical Release Date: 05/03/1985
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Fine look at a brilliant director
Steven Hellerstedt | 03/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"George Stevens, Jr. pays loving tribute to his father in GEORGE STEVENS: A FILMMAKER'S JOURNEY.
The documentary opens with a scene from Giant (1956) and quickly segues to a scene from Alice Adams (1935). Appropriately enough. Alice Adams was his first big feature and Giant was the next to last good movie he directed. After The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) he directed a couple of real stinkers - The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and The Only Game in Town (1970), with Elizabeth Taylor.
Most of this entertaining movie is devoted to Stevens' great movies, and there's a raft of them - Alice Adams, Gunga Din, The Best Years of Our Lives, and the list goes on. Interspersed in some extended scenes from the movies are interviews with actors and actresses, producers and fellow directors. This is a movie of praise, and it's a real treat for fans of old movies to get a chance to listen to Fred and Ginger talk about the `break-up' dance in Swing Time, Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. talk over film clips and color home movie 16-mm clips from the Gunga Din set, and Joel McCrea discussing the making of the wonderful war-time movie The More the Merrier.
Also included is 16mm footage Stevens took in Europe during World War Two. The only color footage, the movie tells us, to come out of Europe during the war. A fun and fascinating appreciation of one of cinema's master directors. Highly recommended.
Stevens on stevens
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 08/27/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)

"When the son of a director makes a film about his father, you have certain expectations. Bias, yes, but also insight and facts that are otherwise unknown. George Stevens Jnr provides us with his father's behind the scenes footage and also the World War 2 film he shot of D-day, the liberation of Paris, and Dachau, since he was in the special coverage unit. (The war footage is actually badly edited, or is it that the material is still subject to the censorship of the military?, and accompanied by a Hollywood-type saccharine score by Carl Davis). Jnr tells us that he was bequeathed his father's memorabilia, yet when it comes to covering his Hollywood career, we get hardly anything new. Even the behind the scenes home movies are mostly tedious images of the actors waving to the camera. So then we are left with the movies Snr made, complemeted by present day interviews with some of the actors involved. Of these, Katharine Hepburn is particularly entertaining. George Stevens is admired in the same way as John Ford, a point driven home by iconic profile stills of Snr in a cowboy hat. Like Ford, Stevens style was simple. He boasted that he could manage any genre, though he never tried a thriller, and his contemporaries Howard Hawks, William Wyler or John Huston were just as versatile and also managed to add some individuality. So there hangs an air of suffocating self-importance to the films we see. What is interesting is that this air evolved. His career in Hollywood began as a cameraman and gag writer for Laurel and Hardy, and Hal Roach. The story of how he overcame the blue eyes of Stan Laurel that the camera didn't register is the promise of detail unfulfilled. And the action of Gunga Din looks fun. Hepburn may have hit upon the reason for Stevens loss of humour. She comments that she had fierce arguments over his abandoning comedy, which she felt was his true gift, and turning to more serious subjects, though Jnr makes the point that it was his war experience which contributed to this decision. I guess after Dachau, nothing is funny anymore. Jnr also tells us that his father watched Triumph of the Will alone in a screening room and then said it was the most influential of his life. (Interpret that as you may). What is mentioned in this doco but passed over quickly is Snr's notorious reputation for shooting multiple takes of the same scene at different angles, so that he could make decisions when editing, which the studios balked at because of the cost of film exposed. (In this way, he was the opposite of Hitchcock, who shot so that the film could only be edited one way - ie the way Hitch had storyboarded it.) However all this seems worth it when you consider the one-take long-shot of The Way You Look Tonight from the Astaire/Rogers Swing Time (a lesson in how to shoot a dance number), and the beautiful extreme closeups of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun. Millie Perkins from The Diary of Anne Frank tells us that during their shoot, Stevens always wore dark sunglasses and treated the actors in the way he wanted them to perform. Since they were all meant to be frightened, that doesn't sound too positive. Luckily for Perkins, her character was to be loved. The perceived failure of The Greatest Story Ever Told also deprives us of anything of his later film, The Only Game in Town, though the discussion of his disagreement with Cecil B DeMille over Joseph L Mankiewicz and the Directors Guild during McCarthyism is fascinating."
What About the Man?
Samantha Kelley | USA | 07/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Just one look at the film works of George Stevens, and it becomes obvious that he was an important director. His movies have become classics that have inspired other film makers. Here, his son and the stars that worked with him remember a man who was dedicated to his craft and who helped to shape the movie industry.

We start with Alice Adams, by now a classic Katharine Hepburn film. The pacing is discussed, its innovations are covered, and Stevens' knack for comedy is praised. Hepburn provides additional commentary. Next is Gunga Din, then Hepburn's teaming with Spencer Tracy, and the impact WWII had on Stevens' work as a director. This change is illustrated by his next movies including I Remember Mama, A Place in the Sun, Shane, Giant, The Diary of Anne Frank, and finally The Greatest Story Ever Told. Fans and collegues bring the experiences of making the films to life.

Some of his career is ignored, including his first stint with Hal Roach's Boy Friend series. As a fan of those films, some coverage would have been great to see.

Hardly any of Stevens' personal life is mentioned, so the documentary comes off slightly hollow. Anyone could dig up the films and make their own impressions. It would have been more exciting to hear about the man behind the movies. Still, there are some interesting bits, so this documentary is not a total loss. It will never be a must-have, though."