Blue Jasmine + Born Yesterday


Double feature: The prevailing genealogy of “Blue Jasmine” and its eponymous heroine involves “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the Madoffs, and the personality/mannerisms of a New York art gallery owner who came within Woody Allen’s ken. My personal theory involves the director (subconsciously?) crafting a take on the personality of, and everlastingly contentious end of his relationship with, Mia Farrow.

But there’s another film to add to this family tree: “Born Yesterday,” the sparkling theatrical adaptation which is a kind of twin to, and reversal of, “Blue Jasmine.” Both films present women reckoning with who they are and what they’re capable of – in their own eyes, as well as in others’. In both cases, such reckoning is deeply intertwined with the heroines’ relationships with the men in their lives. Both heroines are made, unmade, and remade in the reflection of a man’s light – not just who he is, but who he tells her, shows her, she can be.

Beyond their common concern with the scaffolding around a female ego, and their undeniably great lead performances, these two films also share fond, quasi-touristic portrayals of major American cities.

For a marathon: “Blue Jasmine” would be aptly followed by “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” another golden-lit, increasingly disturbing warning about believing the lies you tell others about yourself.

If you fall in love with Judy Holliday after “Born Yesterday” – which, I should warn you, is  likely – more of her unique effervescence and knowing charm have been captured in “It Should Happen to You” and “The Solid Gold Cadillac” (incidentally, both New York-based and fiscally oriented, and thus also related to “Blue Jasmine.”) Alternatively, you can watch Melanie Griffith channeling Judy Holliday in the thematically-related shoulder-pad extravaganza “Working Girl.”

“Born Yesterday” is also very much about pedagogy, which makes it an interesting pairing with “To Be and to Have,” the beautiful documentary about intentional and unintentional pedagogical methods in a rural French primary school.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “KoKong” and “Jocelyn McAuliflower” at Flickr)

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