From his father to his own career, George Stevens Jr. looks back on 90 years in film with ‘My Place in the Sun’ – San Bernardino Sun

From his father to his own career, George Stevens Jr. looks back on 90 years in film with ‘My Place in the Sun’ – San Bernardino Sun
From his father to his own career, George Stevens Jr. looks back on 90 years in film with ‘My Place in the Sun’ – San Bernardino Sun

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George Stevens Jr. had a charming early life: As the son of director George Stevens, he attended the Oscars before he was a teenager, dined with Elizabeth Taylor before either of them turned 20, helped his father on the set of ” Shane”, driving with James Dean in his ill-fated Porsche Spyder, and even running second unit in Amsterdam for her father’s film “The Diary of Anne Frank”.

Not surprisingly, Stevens Jr.’s new memoir, “My Place in the Sun: Life in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Washington,” is filled with hugely entertaining anecdotes, featuring legends from Katherine Hepburn to Cecil B. DeMille. If it were all about celebrity encounters, though, the book would have felt like a sweet concoction of names.


Stevens Jr. not only uses his father’s story, which also includes “A Place in the Sun” and “Giant,” but also historical footage shot on D-Day, in Berlin, and at the liberation of Dachau, to illuminate where they are. their own values. He came from. He too lived a full and fascinating life of his own once he moved away from the considerable shadow of his father. (Stevens Jr. was never bitter, saying “the most satisfying job I’ve ever done was making the documentary ‘George Stevens: A Filmmakers Journey.'”)

Stevens Jr. began producing 300 documentary shorts for Edward R. Murrow at the Information Association of America during the Kennedy administration. The films included one about the March on Washington, the Oscar-nominated “The Five Cities of June,” which tackled everything from the struggle for integration to John Kennedy’s famous speech in Berlin, and the Oscar-winning “Nine from Little Rock”. ”

Determined that film be taken seriously as an art form, Stevens Jr. founded the American Film Institute, creating an institution that taught, celebrated, and preserved motion pictures. He also founded the Kennedy Center Honors and produced events like Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008. Along the way, he became close friends with Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, winning Emmys for writing and producing “The Assassination of Mary Phagan” and for write and direct “Separate But Equal,” and wrote a play about Thurgood Marshall.

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Stevens Jr. recently spoke via video from his front porch in the Georgetown area of ​​the capital. Now 90 years old, he exuded an understated charm as he reminisced about his and his father’s accomplishments. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. Your book is full of fascinating stories. Were you aware of trying to make it more than just a series of funny anecdotes?

There was a lot of discovery in writing the book: there are certain moments in life that you remember but when you look back on them, they have a consequence that you didn’t understand.

I remember coming home from the Academy Awards with my dad after he won for “A Place in the Sun.” Oscar was in the seat between us and said, “We’ll have a better idea of ​​what kind of movie this is in about 25 years.” He had a feeling that movies needed to stand the test of time. He didn’t realize that he was talking to the future founder of the American Film Institute, for whom the test of time, in terms of the Life Achievement Award and the preservation of classic films, became a defining trait. So looking back, there’s a meaning I didn’t attach to it when it happened.