See if any of this sounds familiar.

born yesterday.jpeg

A swarthy, coarse, rude tycoon named Harry arrives in Washington D.C. He's ready to do business. He's got a right hand man with political experience and connections. He's got a "bad apple" congressman ready to take bribes. And he's got a statuesque trophy girlfriend, Billie, who knows how to keep her mouth shut as long as she gets what she wants. ("Two mink coats. Everything.") 

While Harry wheels and deals, he realizes Billie's own brassy, uncouth manners might be a liability. He hires a bright young reporter named Paul to squire Billie around and teach her a few things. Just to give her something to do during the day, to polish her up.

But Paul begins with books. He urges Billie to read and read and read. He gives her The Federalist Papers and "After Visiting the Tomb of Napoleon" by Robert G. Ingersoll. Billie tries hard to understand it all. She's a high school dropout and a former chorus girl and, worst of all, she's been living with Harry for seven years. Her own father won't see her as long as she is still "living in any way unethical." Paul is the first person to respectfully meet her where she lives and give her a shot at seeing out of her circumstances.

(And Paul is William Holden so, hello sexual tension.)

They visit the Supreme Court, the National Archives, and attend the symphony.

Paul even gives Billie a political piece he wrote titled "The Yellowing Democratic Manifesto." In a moment of tables turning, Paul learns that his liberal elitism has rendered his message and principles all but unintelligible to people like her. 

This is a problem, because, in taking on this Pygmalion-style task, Paul has an ulterior motive. Frustrated, Billie asks why it's so important to him that she reads and thinks about the writing of men dead for hundreds of years.

Paul says:

It's sort of a cause. I want everyone to be smart.
As smart as they can be.
A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous to live in.

Here's where I'll stop and say this has always been one of my favorite films. I watch it at least once a year. It began as a smash Broadway play by Garson Kanin, and the dialogue sparkles. It's hilarious. It's also an incredible time capsule of 1940s Washington, as well as a glimpse of the post-WWII re-casting of gender roles. 

But with a twist. Billie is the hero.
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