George Stevens

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George Stevens (third from left) at a press conference in Amsterdam in 1958

George Stevens (born December 18, 1904 in Oakland , California , † March 8, 1975 in Lancaster , California) was an American film director , screenwriter , producer and cameraman . His best-known films include A Place in the Sun , My Great Friend Shane , Giants and The Diary of Anne Frank . For A Place in the Sun and Giants , he won the Oscar in the category Best Director .


George Stevens was born to two stage actors and made his own debut at the age of five. As early as 1921 he began his career as a camera assistant in Hollywood . In 1927 he moved to Hal Roach and worked on numerous films by the popular comedian duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy . From 1930 Stevens switched behind the camera as a director of many short films. Even after moving to Universal and later to RKO , he was initially limited to work on routine productions.

He had his breakthrough as a serious director in 1935 when he gave Katharine Hepburn her greatest success since Four Sisters : the stylish and elegantly staged adaptation of Booth Tarkington's Alice Adams describes the experiences of a young woman who tries everything to get out of her modest circumstances. Hepburn was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her performance , and Stevens was entrusted the following year with the job of looking after RKO's most precious stars. With Swing Time he gave Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers their best vehicle ever, according to many critics. The film was an unconditional artistic and financial success. In 1939 he made one of the best adventure films of the time with Gunga Din and the flick made over $ 1.5 million in profit. His artistically most successful period began in 1941 with the film Penny Serenade . The film, which reunited the popular screen couple Cary Grant and Irene Dunne , portrayed the dramatic experiences of two young married couples, who almost break after the death of their only child. Shortly thereafter, he made two successful comedies with Jean Arthur for Columbia . The Talk of the Town was an ambitious tale of small-town prejudice and civil liberties that featured Arthur and Cary Grant and Ronald Colman . In the following year Stevens had his greatest financial success to date with More and more, always happier . The comedy takes place in the completely overpopulated Washington of the war days. Jean Arthur plays a young government employee who rents half of her house to a friendly gentleman ( Charles Coburn ), who in turn sublet his half to Joel McCrea without letting the landlady know. The humorous events describe the path from Arthur and McCrea to the happy ending.

A short time later, Stevens went to a reconnaissance unit with the rank of major and made, among other things, films about liberated Germany and produced the evidence film " Nazi Concentration Camp " for the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals . He was discharged from the army in 1945 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and began to seamlessly build on his previous successes. With I Remember Mama he gave Irene Dunne the last success of her career in 1948. The remake of A Place in the Sun by Theodore Dreiser , which was distributed in 1951 after more than 18 months of post-production in the studio, was seen by critics as an improvement on the inadequate film adaptation by Josef von Sternberg . However, the sensual close-ups of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift are remembered . The next few films, including My Big Friend Shane and Giants , were box office hits too . After the intelligently staged adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959, Stevens only made two less commercially successful films.

Stevens played a prominent role in the scandal surrounding the demolition of the Berlinale in 1970 . He was president of the jury of the film festival and threatened to resign after the conflict over what he believed to be the anti-American German competition film ok by Michael Verhoeven if the film was not withdrawn from the competition. Then the festival burst.

Stevens was married twice. His only child, George Stevens Jr. , is a successful film and theater producer and co-founder of the American Film Institute .


George Stevens was an outspoken perfectionist who carefully planned every scene and drove the actors into exhaustion with endless repetitions of the takes. Before the shoot, every possible camera setting and every conceivable lighting angle was run through in order to get the best possible results.


Oscar / Best Director

Golden Globe Awards

Cannes International Film Festival

Directors Guild of America

  • 1952: DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for A Place in the Sun.
  • 1954: DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures nomination for My Great Friend Shane
  • 1957: DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Giants
  • 1960: Nomination for DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for The Diary of Anne Frank
  • 1960: Lifetime Achievement Award

National Board of Review

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Filmography (selection)

camera operator

Web links

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