How much they resemble each other, these couples: Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, Billie Dawn (Judy Holiday) and Paul Verrall (William Holden). The blond beauties are ditzy and sexually confident; the men in glasses are writers, stunned, in love.
Judy Holiday and William Holden star in "Born Yesterday," based on the play by Garson Kanin. Billie Dawn really seems to have been born yesterday. She knows from nothing, as her brute of a boyfriend, Harry Brock, might say. Billie and Paul educate each other. When Paul kisses Billie, she says, 'What are you doing?' Paul says, 'If you don't know, I mustn't be doing it right,' and kisses her again, this time more effectively. Paul doesn't buy her diamonds as Harry does: he brings her books and an enormous dictionary; he talks about serious things with her; he takes her to see the great sights in Washington, where Harry has come to buy favors.
Billie Dawn wakes up at the Jefferson Monument--what a novel place for a shock of recognition! When she reads Jefferson's words cut into stone, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man," she says, 'That means women, too.' She realizes that Harry Brock is a tyrant, she his victim. Whenever she's resisted him, Harry has slapped her around--not playfully. But she and Paul outwit him, trap him, stop him.
The film ends happily: Billie Dawn and Paul marry. There's no divorce in sight. I wish Garson Kanin has written the lines for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Can't you imagine them kissing? Or Marilyn in glasses, surrounded with books, sitting on a pile of books, like Billie Dawn, while Arthur talks to her about Jefferson and freedom?