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George Cukor

Hollywood Master

Edited by Murray Pomerance, R. Barton Palmer

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A critical analysis of the films and career of George Cukor

One of the studio era’s most famous and admired directors, George Cukor made some of American cinema’s most beloved classics, including The Women, Gaslight, Adam’s Rib, A Star is Born, and My Fair Lady. Not himself a scriptwriter, he was particularly adept at choosing which properties to adapt and then managing the adaptation process with verve and skill. But what makes for a good adapter, for a talented master of ceremonies who knows where to put everything and everybody, including the camera? Who knows how to make a property his own even while enhancing the value it has as belonging to someone else? The essays in this volume, all written by prominent experts in their field, provide a series of complementary answers to those questions.

Although responsible for many of the films that came to define an era, Cukor himself has received surprisingly little critical attention. With a theatrical style successfully transferred from his Broadway career, Cukor was still a man of the cinema, fascinated by the ever-developing potentials of his adopted medium, as shown by the more than fifty films he directed in a career that endured from the early sound era into the 1970s.

Offering a critical discussion of every feature film Cukor directed, and including a rich trove of valuable information about their production histories, this is the first critical anthology devoted to one of the most celebrated figures from American cinema’s golden age.


Cukor’s Tragicomedies of Marriage: Dinner at Eight, No More Ladies, The Women, and The Marrying Kind, Maureen Turim
George Cukor’s Late Style: Justine, Travels With My Aunt, and Rich and Famous, James Morrison
Libel, Scandal, and Bad Big Names: It Should Happen to You, Les Girls, Camille, Romeo and Juliet, Dominic Lennard
The Cukor “Problem”: David Copperfield, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Robert B. Ray
Modulations of the Shot: The Quiet Film Style of George Cukor in What Price Hollywood?, Born Yesterday, Sylvia Scarlett, and My Fair Lady, Lee Carruthers
Doubling in the Cinema of George Cukor: The Royal Family of Broadway, A Bill of Divorcement, A Double Life, Bhowani Junction, Michael DeAngelis
George Cukor and the Case of an Actor’s Director: Hepburn and/or Tracy in Little Women, The Actress, Keeper of the Flame, Adam’s Rib, and Pat and Mike, Charlie Keil
Cukor Maudit: Tarnished Lady, Girls About Town, Our Betters, Susan and God, Desire Me, Edward, My Son, The Model and the Marriage Broker, Let’s Make Love, and The Chapman Report, Bill Krohn
George Cukor’s Theatrical Feminism: Gaslight, Heller in Pink Tights, A Life of Her Own and A Star Is Born, Linda Ruth Williams
George Cukor: The Furthest Side of Paradise: Two-Faced Woman, A Woman’s Face, Hot Spell, Wild is the Wind, and Winged Victory, R. Barton Palmer
Works Cited

About the Author

Murray Pomerance is an independent scholar living in Toronto. He is the author of many books including The Man Who Knew Too Much (BFI, 2016), A King of Infinite Space (Oberon, 2017) and Moment of Action: Riddles of Cinematic Performance (Rutgers, 2016).

R. Barton Palmer is the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University, where he directs the film studies program. He is the author, editor, or general editor of many books including Hollywood’s Dark Cinema: The American Film Noir (1994), After Hitchcock: Influence, Imitation, and Intertextuality (2006), and A Little Solitaire: John Frankenheimer and American Film (2011).


An MGM-style all-star cast of critics provide innumerable fresh insights into Cukor's rich and surprisingly varied career, his working methods and his signature subjects. The self-effacing Cukor believed in not calling attention to his craft, but he would have appreciated the sophistication and nuance with which these scholars illuminate his achievements.

Professor Matthew Bernstein, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

- Matthew H. Bernstein, Emory University

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