Melanie Griffith Takes the Lead in Romantic Comedy Remake



Born Yesterday (1993) is an updated version of the 1950 George Cukor classic, a film that  stared Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, and William Holden.  This updated version from director Luis Mandoki (Angel Eyes, Message in a Bottle), takes the basic storyline from the earlier version and replaces the leads with Melanie Griffith, John Goodman, and Don Johnson respectfully.

The story is that businessman Harry Brock (Goodman) has flown into Washington, D.C. to swing a couple of Senators into his back pocket in order to secure funding for a project he is going to do the construction for.  He has leveraged nearly every cent he has into this project, but he can’t let on that he is financially in limbo, especially to these powerful D.C.-types he is trying to win over.

Accompanying him on this trip is his girlfriend, Billie Dawn, an ex-Vegas showgirl who knows very little about the world around her, especially things that would matter to politicians.  When Billie proves to be an embarrassment to Harry at a social gathering, Harry looks for a solution.  His idea is to hire the reporter who has been trying to land a story on him and pay this reporter, Paul Verrall (Johnson), to bring Billie up to speed on the news of the world, and also how to not embarrass oneself in front of the slick politicians and their wives that Harry is trying to court.

The film is a light-hearted romp in which Billie is tired of the angry, controlling, and abusive Harry, and instead lights up when she sees her tutor is someone a little easier on the eyes like Paul.  In real life, Griffith and Johnson were married, for the second time to each other at the time of shooting, and so this film pairs the real life couple as love interests to each other in the film.  As Billie begins to educate herself, literally becoming so self-aware that her IQ seems to triple in the matter of days just from reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America“, she quickly realizes how small a big man like Harry Brock truly is.

The supporting cast includes Fred Thompson, actor and also a future senator, playing a senator, as well as Edward Herrmann, Nora Dunn, and Max Perlich.  Both Fred Thompson and Edward Herrmann have passed, but they are always fun to have around on screen, especially in something a little more lighthearted as they often have appeared in more serious roles over the years.

John Goodman basically just plays this part as annoyed and then out-and-out vicious.  Loud, then louder. Its a little one note for him, as he has continued to grow and develop into a strong actor since this film, especially in any film involving the Coen Brothers.   On the flip side, Don Johnson is charming enough, but too buttoned down for a man that was Sunny Crockett (Miami Vice).

Melanie Griffith was five years removed from her Oscar-nominated performance in Working Girl, and while she handles the part just fine, it was clear that the shine on her star was starting to fade a bit, especially following the legendary bomb that was The Bonfire of the Vanities.  While Bruce Willis and Tom Hanks quickly got back on track after this film bombed (Hanks winning 2 Best Actor Oscars back to back just a few years later), Griffith’s choices in films never led to another breakout performance to build on the one Mike Nichols gave her alongside Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl.

This Kino Lorber Blu-Ray release has very little in the way of extras which is disappointing.  Basically, it includes the original theatrical trailer for Born Yesterday, and that is about it.  The film is presented in color, with a run time of 100 minutes.