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New York's Museum of Modern Art is paying tribute this week to George Stevens, director of such Classical Hollywood specimens as Alice Adams, Giant and A Place in the Sun. The program, which started tonight with two documentaries introduced by George Stevens, Jr, is heavily weighted towards Stevens' post-World War II filmography. The director left Hollywood to document that war on color 16mm film, as head of the Signal Corps Special Motion Picture Unit, and came back a changed man with a somewhat darker filmmaking sensibility. As Jean-Luc Godard is quoted in the MoMA program, "If George Stevens hadn't used the first 16mm color film in Dachau, Elizabeth Taylor would never have found a place in the sun."

The earliest film in the series, and definitely the fluffiest, Vivacious Lady (1938) is still a pretty great screwball comedy of class and manners. Ginger Rogers stars as a nightclub-dancing floozy (read: thinly-veiled Post-Code stripper) who impulsively marries straight-laced college professor Jimmy Stewart. It's kind of like Dharma & Greg, but with more double entendres and much less yoga. It screens Sunday at 5:00pm. Another Stevens-helmed screwball comedy of note is The More the Merrier, which screens on Friday at 4:00pm. In an effort to cope with a wartime housing shortage, Jean Arthur rents out half of her room to the cantankerous Charles Coburn, who rents out half of his half to a studly young Joel McCrea. It's kind of like Three's Company, if Mr. Roper had moved in instead of Terry when Suzanne Somers quit.

The tribute's remaining screenings include:

Shane (1953) Starring Alan Ladd. Thursday at 5:00pm.
I Remember Mama (1948) With Irene Dunne and Barbara Bel Geddes. Based on the play by John Van Druten. Saturday at 2:00 pm.
The Talk of the Town (1942) Starring Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. Sunday at 2:00pm.

categories Cinematical