Among his most notable films are A Place in the Sun (1951; winner of six Academy Awards including Best Director), Shane (1953; Oscar nominated), Giant (1956; Oscar for Best Director), and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959; nominated for Best Director).
He was born in Oakland, California, the son of Landers Stevens and Georgie Cooper, both stage actors. His uncle was drama critic Ashton Stevens. 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 path to filmmaking. He broke into the movie business as a cameraman, working on many Laurel and Hardy short films, such as Night Owls (1930). 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 at the time the U.S. had not yet entered.
During World War II, 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.
One result of his World War II experiences was that his subsequent films became more dramatic. The motion picture I Remember Mama from 1948 was the last movie that he made with comic scenes. He was responsible for such classic films as A Place in the Sun, Shane, The Diary of Anne Frank, Giant and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He ended his directing career with the 1970 film The Only Game in Town with Warren Beatty and Elizabeth Taylor. In the same year, he was head of the jury at the 20th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.
Stevens was the father of television and film writer-producer-director George Stevens, Jr., the first CEO and director of the American Film Institute. George Jr. produced and directed the documentary about his father George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey in 1984 and is the father of Stevens' grandson Michael Stevens, also a television and film producer-director.
Stevens died following a heart attack on March 8, 1975, on his ranch in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.
As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, Stevens headed the U.S. Army Signal Corps unit that filmed the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For these contributions, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Stevens has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1701 Vine Street. He won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, in 1951 for A Place in the Sun and in 1956 for Giant. He was also nominated in 1943 for The More the Merrier, in 1954 for Shane, and in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank.
The moving image collection of George Stevens is held at the Academy Film Archive. The film material at the Academy Film Archive is complemented by material in the George Stevens papers at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
|1930||Ladies Last||Hal Roach Studios||3rd episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||Blood and Thunder||Hal Roach Studios||4th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||High Gear||Hal Roach Studios||5th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||Air-Tight||Hal Roach Studios||7th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||Call a Cop!||Hal Roach Studios||8th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||Mama Loves Papa||Hal Roach Studios||9th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1931||The Kick-Off!||Hal Roach Studios||10th episode from the "Boy Friends" series|
|1932||Who, Me?||Universal||Short film|
|1932||The Finishing Touch||Universal||Short film|
|1932||Boys Will Be Boys||Universal||Short film|
|1933||A Divorce Courtship||Universal||Short film|
|1933||Family Troubles||Universal||Short film|
|1933||Rock-a-Bye Cowboy||Universal||Short film|
|1933||Should Crooners Marry||Universal||Short film|
|1933||The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble||Universal||George Sidney/ Charles Murray||Part of "The Cohens and Kellys" comedy series|
|1933||Room Mates||Universal||Short film|
|1933||Quiet Please!||RKO||Short film|
|1933||Flirting in the Park||RKO||June Brewster/ Carol Tevis||Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series|
|1933||What Fur||RKO||Short film|
|1933||Grin and Bear It||RKO||Short film|
|1934||Ocean Swells||RKO||Short film|
|1934||The Undie-World||RKO||June Brewster/ Carol Tevis||Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series|
|1934||Cracked Shots||RKO||Short film|
|1934||Hollywood Party||MGM||Hollywood Revue||In an attempt to salvage the film Harry Rapf hired Stevens, and 8 other directors, to direct a sequence for the film.|
|1934||Bachelor Bait||RKO||Stuart Erwin/ Rochelle Hudson|
|1934||Kentucky Kernels||RKO||Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ George McFarland|
|1935||Bridal Bail||RKO||June Brewster/ Carol Tevis||Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series|
|1935||Hunger Pains||RKO||June Brewster/ Carol Tevis||Part of "The Blonde and The Redhead" comedy series|
|1935||The Nitwits||RKO||Robert Woolsey/ Bert Wheeler/ Betty Grable|
|1935||Alice Adams||RKO||Katharine Hepburn/ Fred MacMurray|
|1935||Annie Oakley||RKO||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1936||Swing Time||RKO||Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers|
|1937||Quality Street||RKO||Katharine Hepburn/ Franchot Tone|
|1937||A Damsel in Distress||RKO||Fred Astaire/ Joan Fontaine/ George Burns/ Gracie Allen|
|1938||Vivacious Lady||RKO||Ginger Rogers/ Jimmy Stewart|
|1939||Gunga Din||RKO||Cary Grant/ Douglas Fairbanks Jr./ Victor McLaglen/ Joan Fontaine|
|1940||Vigil in the Night||RKO||Carole Lombard/ Brian Aherne/ Anne Shirley|
|1941||Penny Serenade||Columbia||Cary Grant/ Irene Dunne|
|1942||Woman of the Year||MGM||Spencer Tracy/ Katharine Hepburn|
|1942||The Talk of the Town||Columbia||Cary Grant/ Jean Arthur/ Ronald Colman|
|1943||The More the Merrier||Columbia||Jean Arthur/ Charles Coburn/ Joel McCrea|
|1945||That Justice Be Done||War Activities Committee||Documentary/ Short film|
|1945||Nazi Concentration Camps||Documentary|
|1945||The Nazi Plan||U.S. Council for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality||Documentary|
|1948||On Our Merry Way||Miracle Productions||Anthology story/ Co-directed a sequence|
|1948||I Remember Mama||RKO||Irene Dunne|
|1951||A Place in the Sun||Paramount||Montgomery Clift/ Elizabeth Taylor/ Shelley Winters|
|1952||Something to Live For||MGM||Joan Fontaine/ Ray Milland/|
|1953||Shane||Paramount||Alan Ladd||Technicolor film|
|1956||Giant||Warner Bros.||Elizabeth Taylor/ Rock Hudson/ James Dean||Warnercolor film|
|1959||The Diary of Anne Frank||20th Century Fox||Millie Perkins/ Joseph Schildkraut/ Shelley Winters|
|1965||The Greatest Story Ever Told||George Stevens Prod.||Max von Sydow||Ultra Panavision 70 Technicolor film|
|1970||The Only Game in Town||20th Century Fox||Elizabeth Taylor/ Warren Beatty||Color film|
|1942||Outstanding Motion Picture||The Talk of the Town||Sidney Franklin – Mrs. Miniver|
|1943||Outstanding Motion Picture||The More the Merrier||Hal B. Wallis – Casablanca|
|Best Director||Michael Curtiz – Casablanca|
|1951||Best Motion Picture||A Place in the Sun||Arthur Freed – An American in Paris|
|1953||Best Motion Picture||Shane||Buddy Adler – From Here to Eternity|
|Best Director||Fred Zinnemann – From Here to Eternity|
|Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award||Won|
|1956||Best Motion Picture||Giant||Mike Todd – Around the World in 80 Days|
|1959||Best Motion Picture||The Diary of Anne Frank||Sam Zimbalist – Ben-Hur (Posthumous)|
|Best Director||William Wyler – Ben-Hur|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Stevens.|
|Non-profit organization positions|
|President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
B. B. Kahane