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10 Best Movies of George Cukor: The Legacy Collection

Best movies of George Cukor

Welcome to the Memorial Film Collection of George Cukor

George Cukor may have passed away in the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, he will never be really gone.

Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to meet the so called “women’s director”, and to witness his unique directorial style, all you have to do, is to watch one (or more) of his movies.

But which George Cukor movies should you watch?
Well, if that’s your question for the day, you came to the right place. We’re just about to present the Top 10 Films of George Cukor.

The Best Movies of George Cukor is an episode of FrameTrek’s Hall of Legends: A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest artists of World Cinema, and their most significant works.


Meet George Cukor, the Women’s Director

(1899 – 1983)

Best movies of George Cukor

The Oscar-winning director, whose last name means ‘sugar’ in Hungarian, was one of the most prominent directors of his time. In a career spanning more than half a century, he directed films in almost every genre, but mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations.

He is often regarded as a “women’s director” because his films were frequently centered around strong female characters. George was an expert on pushing actresses to an emotional brink and then capturing it on film, bringing out their best performances.

I suppose they call me a woman’s director because there were all these movie queens in the old days, and I directed most of them.

George Cukor

As a child, Cukor fell in love with the theater and appeared in several amateur plays. Later on he co-founded a theatrical company and made his Broadway debut as a director.

Around 1930, Hollywood film studios were recruiting theater talents for sound films. Cukor was discovered and given a shot, so he entered the film business.

This was the beginning of his fifty-one-year-long career as a movie director, from 1930 to 1981, during which he produced films of high quality, combining his skill in working with actors, especially actresses, and his careful attention to details.

I don’t weep or anything, but there’s always some part of me left bloody on the scene I’ve just directed.

George Cukor

He was famous as a sophisticated, witty personality, but was also in the habit of blurting out unexpected profanities. For many decades, George Cukor owned a luxurious art deco mansion in the Hollywood hills, which served as the setting for several lavish parties he threw for large groups of directors, many being attended by legends such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Luis Buñuel.

So yeah, there’s plenty to talk about, when it comes to George Cukor, but we are here to concentrate on his Top 10 Films, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

After all, a director is as good as his greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to familiarize yourself with Cukor, is through watching his best films.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best movies of George Cukor carry you to the nostalgic lands of cinema!



Presenting the 10 Best Films of George Cukor

Chronologically


Little Women (1933)

Little Women (1933), Katharine Hepburn, Best films of George Cukor
Where to Watch?   More info

Pre-Code drama film starring Katharine Hepburn.

Story: The movie tells the tale of four sisters, growing up in the nineteenth-century America, during Civil War. While their father is away with the troops, they are tangled up in their everyday life, struggling to make ends meet.

Between Frames:
✪ Katharine Hepburn wrote in her autobiography, “This picture was heaven to do – George Cukor perfect. He really caught the atmosphere. It was to me my youth!”

Why is Little Women among the Best George Cukor films?
✓ The film was overwhelmingly praised by critics and it broke attendance records upon its release.
✓ Selected by the Vatican in the “art” category of its list of 45 “great films.”
✓ Winner of the Best Writing, Adaptation Academy Award.


Camille (1936)

Camille (1936), Greta Garbo, Best George Cukor movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic drama film starring Greta Garbo.

Story: A Parisian courtesan must choose between the young man who loves her and the callous baron who wants her, even as her own health begins to fail. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
Greta Garbo and George Cukor worked remarkably well together, and over the course of filming they developed a deep respect for each other.

Why is Camille among the best movies of George Cukor?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Movies and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions.
✓ The film has been very well-received by critics since its release, and the role of Marguerite is generally regarded as Greta Garbo‘s finest screen performance.
✓ One of the most successful and popular movies of the 1930s, with a significant influence on pop culture.


Holiday (1938)

Holiday (1938), Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Best movies of George Cukor
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic comedy film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Story: A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée’s eccentric sister and long-suffering brother. (IMDB)

Why is Holiday among the best films of George Cukor?
✓ It was very well received by critics and it is often referred to as one of Cukor’s best films.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1930s.



The Women (1939)

The Women (1939), Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Best George Cukor films
Where to Watch?   More info

Comedy-drama film starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell.

Story: A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ In addition to its all-female cast (over 130 roles), every animal that was used in the film (the many dogs and horses) was female as well.

A feast of sharp dialogue delivered by an expertly assembled cast, The Women makes the transition from stage to screen without losing a step.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Women among the best George Cukor movies?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1930s and a box office hit. Critics often cite it as one of the best films of its era.


The Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Philadelphia Story (1940), Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Top movies of George Cukor
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic comedy film starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart.

Story: When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself. (IMDB)

Offering a wonderfully witty script, spotless direction from George Cukor, and typically excellent lead performances, The Philadelphia Story is an unqualified classic.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Philadelphia Story among the top films of George Cukor?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and featured in AFI’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Romantic Comedy”.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It is considered one of the best examples of a comedy of remarriage.


Gaslight (1944)

Gaslight (1944), Ingrid Bergman, Top George Cukor movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Psychological thriller film starring Ingrid Bergman.

Story: Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ Director George Cukor suggested that Ingrid Bergman study the patients at a mental hospital to learn about nervous breakdowns. She did, focusing on one woman in particular, whose habits and physical quirks became part of the character.

Why is Gaslight among the top George Cukor films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It was a box office success upon release and it still continues to receive critical praise.



Adam’s Rib (1949)

Adam’s Rib (1949), Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Greatest movies of George Cukor
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic comedy-drama film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Story: Domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case involving a woman who shot her husband. (IMDB)

Matched by Garson Kanin’s witty, sophisticated screenplay, George Cukor, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn are all in top form in the classic comedy Adam’s Rib.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Adam’s Rib among the greatest films of George Cukor?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and also part of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Well received upon its release and today it is considered a classic romantic comedy.


Born Yesterday (1950)

Born Yesterday (1950), Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden, Greatest George Cukor movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Comedy-drama film starring Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford and William Holden.

Story: A tycoon hires a tutor to teach his lover proper etiquette, with unexpected results. (IMDB)

Marrying screwball romance with political satire, Born Yesterday is a substantive romp with a ferociously smart performance by Judy Holliday as an uncouth bombshell.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Born Yesterday among the greatest George Cukor films?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Featured in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs list.
✓ One of the most popular movies of the 1950s, with a significant influence on pop culture.



A Star Is Born (1954)

A Star Is Born (1954), Judy Garland, James Mason, Most popular movies of George Cukor
Where to Watch?   More info

Musical drama starring Judy Garland and James Mason.

Story: A film star helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career on a downward spiral. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ This was George Cukor’s first musical, and his first full production in color.

A Star is Born is a movie of grand scope and intimate moments, featuring Judy Garland’s possibly greatest performance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is A Star Is Born among the most popular films of George Cukor?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Featured on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Passions list and on its list of Greatest Movie Musicals.


My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady (1964), Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Most popular George Cukor movies
Where to Watch?   More info

American musical comedy-drama film starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

Story: In 1910s London, snobbish phonetics professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make crude flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ At Audrey Hepburn’s insistence, director George Cukor shot all of her scenes in sequence so that she could grow into the role and hold her own against Sir Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway, who had both done the play for several years.

George Cukor’s elegant, colorful adaptation of the beloved stage play is elevated to new heights thanks to winning performances by Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is My Fair Lady among the most popular George Cukor films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.



The end of George Cukor’s Story

He retired as a director at the age of 82, and died a year later of a heart attack in 1983. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, in the Garden of Honor. His grave is unmarked, in a private area and it’s not accessible to the general public.

If you’d like to dig deeper into the story of George Cukor, you may want to read his biography by Patrick McGilligan entitled George Cukor: A Double Life.


…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 10 Greatest Films of George Cukor

If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

10 Best Movies of George Cukor
Legacy of the Woman’s Director
Little Women 1933
Little Women (1933)
Camille 1936
Camille (1936)
Holiday 1938
Holiday (1938)
The Women 1939
The Women (1939)
The Philadelphia Story 1940
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Gaslight 1944
Gaslight (1944)
Adam’s Rib 1949
Adam’s Rib (1949)
Born Yesterday 1950
Born Yesterday (1950)
A Star Is Born 1954
A Star Is Born (1954)
My Fair Lady 1964
My Fair Lady (1964)
*Click any title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options

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