George Stevens (December 18, 1904 – March 8, 1975) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer.
Among his most notable films were Diary of Anne Frank (1959), nominated for Best Director, Giant (1956), winner of Oscar for Best Director, Shane (1953), Oscar nominated, and A Place in the Sun (1951), winner of Oscar for Best Director.
He was born in Oakland, California, and his family included his father Landers Stevens and his mother Georgie Cooper, both of them stage actors. He also had two brothers, Jack and writer Aston Stevens. He learned about the stage from his parents and worked and toured with them, on his way to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy shorts. His first feature film was The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble in 1933.
In 1934 he got his first directing job, the slapstick Kentucky Kernels. His big break came when he directed Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams in 1935. He went on in the late 1930s to direct several Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies, not only with the two actors together, but on their own. In 1940, he directed Carole Lombard in Vigil in the Night, and the film has an alternate ending for European audiences in recognition of World War II, which the US had not yet entered.
During the Second World War, Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a film unit from 1943 to 1946, under General Eisenhower. His unit shot footage documenting D-Day—including the only Allied European Front color film of the war—the liberation of Paris and the meeting of American and Soviet forces at the Elbe River, as well as horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp and the Dachau concentration camp. Stevens also helped prepare the Duben and Dachau footage and other material for presentation during the Nuremberg Trials. In 2008, his footage was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as an "essential visual record" of World War II.
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