Cukor in Locarno, by Óscar Peyrou

As said Carlo Chatrian, artistic director of the Festival, “I think of Locarno as a frontier festival. A festival that tries to explore what’s going on at the limits of the film pick up the things that are just off camera but which somehow define the scene”. In this sense, the present and the past come together, and takes a lot of value that the  tradicional Retrospective of the Festival, was dedicated this year to the Hollywood master George Cukor.

George D. Cukor was born in New York City in 1899. Cukor worked as a stage manager for theater productions before moving to Hollywood in 1929. Movies were just starting to use sound at the time, and Cukor worked as a dialogue director. Cukor soon became a director on the rise, directing Tallulah Bankhead in her film debut, 1931's Tarnis hed Lady, and helping to discover Katharine Hepburn when he fought with the studio to cast her in 1932's A Bill of  Divorcement with John Barrymore

He earned his first major success with Little Women in 1933. He made films for 50 years and received only one Academy Award for My Fair Lady in 1964. He died in Los Angeles, California, in 1983.  Is considered one of the most important actress directors of film history.

The Festival presented the director’s entire body of work, some fifty titles that was screened in the best prints available during the eleven days of the event, said Chatrian
The screenings was accompanied by discussions on George Cukor’s films, led by filmmakers, actors and critics invited to Locarno.

Three additional films, screening in the Histoire(s) du cinéma section, completed the Cukor focus. In Cinéastes de notre temps: Conversation avec George Cukor by André S. Labarthe and Hubert Knapp (1969) Cukor is interviewed in his own villa, and focuses on the making of Camille and The Philadelphia Story. Patty Ivins Specht’s Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (2001) concentrates on the final months of Marilyn Monroe’s life, when she was shooting Cukor’s Something’s Got To Give

The documentary contains some extracts that give an idea of that film, postponed then finally cancelled due to the death of the actress. 

The Festival also presented the international preview of Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz (1939) in a remastered 3D version, a film on which Cukor did some early work, although Victor Fleming then took over. The Wizard of Oz has been restored for its 75th anniversary by Warner Bros.

Among the guests of the Cukor’s Retrospective who took part at the Festival, was the british actress Jacqueline Bisset, introducing the Piazza Grande screening of Rich and Famous, the final film in the director’s long career. Anna Karina was also a guest of the Festival, and she introduced Cukor’s Justine.

Alongside the program of screenings, the Festival audience had also the opportunity to attend a round-table on George Cukor’s work, chaired by Roberto Turigliatto and with, among others, Jean Douchet, Chris Fujiwara and Bernard Eisenschitz. For the occasion, and in collaboration with the Locarno Festival, Capricci will publish George Cukor On/Off Hollywood. This volume, in English and French, contains analyses of the films and biographical material, and is edited by film critic Fernando Ganzo.

The list of the movies that were shown as follows:

GRUMPY – United States – 1930 
THE ROYAL FAMILY OF BROADWAY – United States – 1930 
THE VIRTUOUS SIN – United States – 1930 
GIRLS ABOUT TOWN – United States – 1931 
TARNISHED LADY – United States – 1931 
A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT – United States – 1932 
ROCKABYE – United States – 1932 
WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? – United States – 1932 
DINNER AT EIGHT – United States – 1933 
LITTLE WOMEN – United States – 1933 
OUR BETTERS – United States – 1933 
DAVID COPPERFIELD – United States – 1935 
SYLVIA SCARLETT – United States – 1935 
CAMILLE – United States – 1936 
ROMEO AND JULIET – United States – 1936 
HOLIDAY – United States – 1938 
THE WOMEN – United States – 1939 
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY – United States – 1940 
A WOMAN'S FACE – United States – 1941 
TWO-FACED WOMAN – United States – 1941 
HER CARDBOARD LOVER – United States – 1942 
KEEPER OF THE FLAME – United States – 1942 
SUSAN AND GOD – United States – 1942 
GASLIGHT – United States – 1944 
WINGED VICTORY – United States – 1944 
A DOUBLE LIFE – United States – 1947 
EDWARD, MY SON – United States – 1948 
ADAM'S RIB – United States – 1949 
A LIFE OF HER OWN – United States – 1950 
BORN YESTERDAY – United States – 1950 
PAT AND MIKE – United States – 1952 
THE MARRYING KIND – United States – 1952 
THE ACTRESS – United States – 1953 
A STAR IS BORN – United States – 1954 
IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU – United States – 1954 
BHOWANI JUNCTION – United States – 1956 
LES GIRLS – United States – 1957 
WILD IS THE WIND – United States – 1957 
HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS – United States – 1960 
LET'S MAKE LOVE – United States – 1960 
THE CHAPMAN REPORT – United States – 1962 
MY FAIR LADY – United States – 1964 
JUSTINE – United States – 1969 
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT – United States – 1972 
LOVE AMONG THE RUINS – United Kingdom – 1975 
THE BLUE BIRD – United States – 1976 
THE CORN IS GREEN – United States – 1979 
RICH AND FAMOUS – United States – 1981

Locarno’s retrospectives have often broken new ground, from major historical monographs (Yasujiro Ozu, Boris Barnet, Mario Camerini, Sacha Guitry, Frank Tashlin, Allan Dwan, Orson Welles, etc.) to thematic programmes (such as Another History of Soviet Cinema 1926-1968 or Asia in Hollywood) and extensive tributes to contemporary directors (Youssef Chahine, Abbas Kiarostami, Marco Bellocchio, Aki Kaurismäki, etc.) as well as complete retrospectives of filmmakers who have left their mark on film history, such as Ernst Lubitsch (2010), Vincente Minnelli (2011) and Otto Preminger last year.

The Cukor’s  Retrospective was organized in collaboration with the Cinémathèque suisse and Turin’s National Cinema Museum, where it will be repeated in autumn. The Festival is also, for the first time, embarking on collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, where the program will be presented in December. 

The Retrospective was also organized in partnership with TCM Cinéma and was supported by the Swiss Post.

Óscar Peyrou is a FIPRESCI member and Jury in Locarno 2013.