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In 1942, Stevens made his third and final picture with the
actress who had set him on the path to directorial success just seven years
earlier -- Katharine
Hepburn. In MGM's WOMAN OF THE
YEAR (1942), Stevens directed
Kate in her first ever
film with veteran actor Spencer
Tracy. The romantic comedy features Tracy
as a sports reporter who succeeds in deflating the ego of Hepburn
(a noted political commentator) long enough for romance to develop. The scene in which Hepburn
attends her first baseball game is one of several highlights, and under Stevens'
guidance, she earned a Best Actress
nomination for the performance. Following their combined success in WOMAN
OF THE YEAR, Hepburn and
Tracy would go on to make eight more
films together, becoming one of the most popular on-screen twosomes in movie
Also earning an Oscar nomination for her performance in a
Stevens romantic comedy was squeaky silver screen comedienne
Jean Arthur who, when forced
to share her wartime apartment with Joel McCrea and
Charles Coburn, cries so hard the
audience just can't stop laughing. THE MORE THE MERRIER was Stevens' fourth
major box office hit in a row and the recipient of six Oscar nominations.
Soon after completing THE MORE THE MERRIER in
1943 (a film for which he received both a Best Director and a Best Picture
Oscar nomination -- the first of five times he would be so honored), Stevens
joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps. With the rank of major, he led the
special motion picture unit assigned to photograph the activities of the Sixth
Army during World War II, including the Normandy beach landings on D-Day in
June 1944, the Allies marching into Paris in August 1944, and the liberation
of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in April 1945. Some of the
footage Stevens and his men shot is the only known color footage of the war in
Europe, and almost twenty years after his death in 1975, Stevens' son George
Stevens Jr. compiled much of his father's wartime work into a made-for-TV
documentary entitled "George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin" (1994).
After being discharged from the army as a Lt. Colonel in 1945,
Stevens took some time off before returning to filmmaking. Eventually,
in 1948, he directed Irene Dunne
to an Academy Award nomination for her performance as the head of a Norwegian
family living in turn-of-the-century San Francisco in I REMEMBER MAMA.
Based on the novel by Kathryn Forbes (played by Barbara Bel Geddes), the film
was praised for its warm family atmosphere and light comic touches.
After another three years, Stevens won his first Best Director Academy Award
for his 1951 adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy,
A PLACE IN THE SUN. Starring
Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery
Clift and Shelley Winters with Anne
Revere and Raymond Burr, it received a total of six Oscars and was nominated
for Best Picture. Haunting and heart-wrenching, A PLACE IN THE SUN is quite
possibly Stevens' greatest filmmaking achievement.
(clip) by Franz Waxman
(a .MP3 file).
(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins
Though not a great box-office success due in part to its
depressing subject matter, Stevens both produced and directed SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR
(1952) starring Joan Fontaine,
Ray Milland and Teresa
Wright, the story of a recovering alcoholic who lets his commitment to
helping a fellow alcoholic separate him from his own supportive wife and
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