Born Yesterday

To the growing list of unnecessary movies, add this remake of the Garson Kanin comedy that won an Oscar for Judy Holliday as the prototypical dumb blonde. Melanie Griffith steps into Holliday's high heels as Billie Dawn, newly arrived in D.C. on the arm of Harry Brock (John Goodman), a tycoon out to bribe a few senators. Broderick Crawford made a one-note Brock, and Goodman is a versatile improvement. Don Johnson takes the William Holden role of Paul Verrall, a journalist hired to smarten up Billie.

Nobody's really miscast. It's just that there have been a lot of movies under the bridge since Kanin warned about how Congress and business make strange bedfellows. Screenwriter Douglas McGrath attempts to put a Nineties spin on the play: Billie says her loneliest time is "after the soaps but before Entertainment Tonight." Most disastrous is an interminable restaurant scene in which Billie teaches a table of politicians to sing the amendments to the Constitution. Director Luis Mandoki works the cast to a frazzle to disguise the unfortunate truth about Born Yesterday: It's terminally dated and dull.

From The Archives Issue 285: February 22, 1979