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In 1953, Stevens returned to the western genre for the first
time in almost two decades, directing and producing the critically acclaimed
drama SHANE. Nominated
for six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, the film took
home a statuette for Best Color Cinematography. Also starring Alan Ladd,
Jack Palance and Van Heflin, SHANE marked the final film appearance of silver
screen star Jean Arthur.
(clip) by Victor Young
(a .MP3 file).
(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins
Three years later, Stevens produced and directed another
(1956), a $5 million epic about the multi-generational romances of a Texas
cattle family, based on the novel by Edna Ferber and starring three of the
biggest stars of the mid-1950s, Elizabeth
Taylor, Rock Hudson and James
Dean. His work on the film earned Stevens his second Best Director
Oscar, but his statuette was the sole award the film received from its amazing
ten Academy Award nominations. In the Best Picture category, GIANT lost
to another star-studded epic, AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956), though
half-a-century later, GIANT has better weathered the test of time.
- Giant" (clip) by
Tiomkin (a .MP3 file).
Following his western epic GIANT, Stevens spent three
years preparing to tackle the more intimate and highly sensitive subject
matter of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1959). This story of eight Jews
hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex in wartime Amsterdam was adapted from
a stage production based on the diary of a young holocaust victim who
chronicled in detail her almost two years in hiding. Starring a
then-unknown Millie Perkins in the title role and featuring Oscar-nominated
supporting performances by veterans Shelley Winters and
Ed Wynn, ANNE FRANK
received somewhat mixed reviews from critics who felt Perkins' lack of acting
experience detracted from the film as much as her fresh simplicity added to
it. Nevertheless, Stevens' accomplishments were rewarded yet again by
the Academy which bestowed eight Oscar nominations on the film.
In one of the most extensive undertakings of his career,
Stevens spent years preparing and filming a star-studded epic about the life
of Jesus Christ, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965). Featuring dozens
of recognizable Hollywood faces including
John Wayne and
the film's original 4+ hour running time was eventually edited down to 3.5 for
general release, but even the cuts couldn't correct the film's fundamental
flaw -- the distracting impact of seeing so many stars in cameo roles.
This criticism aside however, GREATEST STORY is still quite an achievement.
Newman (a .MP3 file).
- Giant: George Stevens, a life on film by Marilyn
Ann Moss (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, c2004).
- George Stevens: interviews edited by Paul Cronin
(Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, c2004).
- A theory of American film: the films and techniques of
George Stevens by Bruce Petri (New York: Garland Pub., 1987).
- George Stevens, an American romantic by Donald
Richie (New York: Garland Pub., 1985, c1970).
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