The story annoys me in the same way as My Fair Lady (also by Cukor), setting up a woman as horrid and annoying, then having a smart white guy fix her and, inevitably, fall in love with her. While My Fair Lady still succeeds because of wonderful filmmaking and Audrey Hepburn, Born Yesterday succeeds entirely because of Judy Holliday. She’s hilarious, and I couldn’t get enough of her – no wonder she won an oscar. I’d forgotten that I also loved her in Adam’s Rib (also by Cukor, jeez) from the year before.
William Holden, whom I never seem to recognize even though I’ve seen him in Sabrina and Sunset Blvd., is a smartypants do-gooder reporter hired by boisterous, arrogant rich dude Broderick Crawford (good to see him out of the dark, depressing roles of Scandal Sheet and Human Desire). Holliday is Crawford’s dumb broad who gets too smart for her own good.
IMDB says the film was rehearsed like a play, in front of a live audience – wonderful idea. The story builds to a predictable conclusion, the intrepid reporter taking down the corrupt businessman and his in-pocket congressmen, escaping with the previously-ignorant woman who has become an avid reader. Before the plot machine kicks in, it’s a bunch of fun.