Garson Kanin Wolcott Gibbs - Essay

Wolcott Gibbs

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Whatever else "Born Yesterday" may have to offer above the general level of prefabricated comedy (and I am one who thinks it hasn't very much), Garson Kanin's play contains a wonderfully engaging study of a young woman in the throes of a belated literary and political education. The pattern of her development—from a cheerful moral vacuum like the one in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" to a state that almost seems to prophesy another congresswoman from Connecticut—is not quite new to art…. [The heroine here], however, undergoes an even more astounding change than any of her predecessors and she is drawn in fascinating detail.

In the beginning, Mr. Kanin's girl … is shown with her protector, one Harry Brock, in a hotel in Washington, where he has come to buy enough senators to set up a cartel in scrap metal…. The lines and the philosophy provided for her by the author are … handsomely in character. Her benefactor isn't terribly polite, generally referring to her, in fact, as a damn, dumb broad, and his physical demands are often fairly exasperating, but she is established in a suite that costs two hundred and thirty-five dollars a day and her wardrobe more than matches it. "Gee," she says, when asked about her dreams, "I got everything I want. Two mink coats. Everything."

Her rebirth is brought about by a writer for the New Republic, a cultivated muckraker of rather more professional integrity than...

(The entire section is 478 words.)