George Stevens: A Centennial Tribute

February 17–March 5, 2005

MoMA

This centenary tribute to George Stevens (1904–1975), a meticulous craftsman and an uncommonly sensitive director of actors, presents newly restored or newly struck prints of 11 features, as well as other special programs. An assistant cameraman at 17, Stevens became a principal photographer and gag man for Hal Roach and Laurel and Hardy comedies within three years. His breakthrough directorial effort, Alice Adams (1935; introduced on February 17 by playwright John Guare), features Katharine Hepburn at her best, as a small-town girl on the wrong side of the tracks. Throughout his career, Stevens hewed to this theme of class aspiration and the American Dream deferred, portraying solitary outsiders in films like Giant, Shane, and A Place in the Sun. Some critics, recognizing a darkling aspect to the films Stevens made after World War II, attributed this to the horrors he witnessed and documented on 16mm color film as head of the Signal Corps Special Motion Picture Unit in Europe. As Jean-Luc Godard chillingly observed, “If George Stevens hadn’t used the first 16mm color film in Dachau, Elizabeth Taylor would never have found a place in the sun.”

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.

Special thanks to George Stevens, Jr., Dottie McCarthy, Randy Haberkamp (Director of Educational Programs, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), Tom Toth, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures.

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