It Should Happen to You (1954)

 it-should-happen-to-you_4030x3000I absolutely love Jack Lemmon. Always have, always will. He’s one of those people you just can’t help but love. And I’m not just talking about his acting or his films. There was a warmth to him, an endearing quality about him that made you love him. I love those actors who are just so comfortable, so comforting, that just seeing them on the screen makes your day. Barbara Stanwyck comes to mind. Cary Grant as well. And, of course, Jack Lemmon. It’s just natural. So, for the Jack Lemmon blogathon – hosted by my good friend Leticia over Critica Retro – I knew I had a LOT of material to choose from. Obviously, being Jack Lemmon, everybody skedaddled to get their topic out. A few of my favorites were already chosen, so I had to dig deeper (and no, I wasn’t going to talk about The Apartment (1960)). I had a look at his filmography on IMDb and stumbled across a movie I hadn’t seen before: It Should Happen to You (1954). Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday, perfect. Written by Garson Kanin, awesome. Directed by George Cukor. Done. That’s it. That’s the one.

Judy Holiday plays Gladys Glover, a young and naïve woman who just wants to make ‘a name for herself’. She meets Pete Sheppard (Jack Lemmon), a young documentary filmmaker, and the two of them quickly bond – artists need to stick together, right? She tells him about her dreams and he confidently predicts that something good is going to happen to her. So, the next day, using her life savings, she decides to rent out a billboard and put her name on it in huge letters. She becomes famous – for all the ridiculous reasons – and she soon realizes that it is all a little too much for her. Not only that, but her relationship with Pete soon turns into a love triangle when Evan Adams III (Peter Lawford), of Adams Soap company – the one that usually books the sign – shows an interest in her. Oh boy!

This was Jack Lemmon’s film debut, and judging by his confidence and natural comic ability that audiences would come to love, you’d never guess it. That old adorable Jack Lemmon charm is already there, ready to take over. I’ve always loved the way he PERFECTLY balanced comedy and drama in the same performance. In the same line, even. He was just unbelievably natural at that. And can we talk about how underrated and awesome Judy Holliday is? I am constantly amazed at that. She and Jack Lemmon play off each other so brilliantly, you’d think they’d been working together for years. Nobody had better comic timing than those two and it is an absolute joy to watch them together. I honestly think that Judy Holliday is one of the greatest, unsung comedy geniuses of all time. Had she lived longer – she died in 1965 -, she would probably have become a big sitcom star and would be considered a national treasure. I sometimes think about things like that when I’m watching an old movie. It kind of makes me sad. Oh well.

For more Jack Lemmon posts, click on the link above and have fun!

Classic movie references in classic movies part 2

Part 2 is here! 😀
Let’s crack on!

Ralph Bellamy – In His Girl Friday (1940), Walter (Cary Grant) says Bruce (Bellamy) ‘looks like that fella in the movies, you know, Ralph Bellamy’.

Grand Hotel (1932) – In The Apartment (1960), when Baxter comes home, he sits down to watch Grand Hotel. After endless commercials, he gives up and turns off the TV.

Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) – In On the Town (1949), Lucy (Alice Pearce) says ‘Goodbye Mr Chip’ to Chip (Frank Sinatra).

Boris Karloff – In Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Raymond Massey plays Jonathan Brewster, the character originally played Boris Karloff on stage. Because the play ran for so long, Karloff was still doing it while filming began so they cast Raymond Massey instead. As a j0ke, Jonathan Brewster is described as looking like Boris Karloff.

Casablanca (1942) – There are countless Casablanca references in pop culture, but I think my favorite is the one in The Two Mrs Carrolls (1947). I’m not even going to say what it is, in case you haven’t seen it, because I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say, my friend Denise and I were watching this together and we both started laughing our eyebrows off.

That’ll be all from me! Happy Sunday, everyone!

Classic movie references in classic movies part 1

I love movie references of all kinds. I’ve done movie references in music before, so I thought this time, I might do one about classic movie references IN classic movies. Here are just some of my favorites:

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – In Double Indemnity (1944), Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) tells Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) his name is spelt with ‘two FFs, like in Philadelphia, you know, the story’, to which she replies ‘What story?’. ‘The Philadelphia Story’, he says. Always a fangirl moment for me.

Gilda (1946) – In The Big Heat (1953), when Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is about the leave the bar, the song Put the Blame on Mame from Gilda is playing in the background. Glenn Ford was, of course, the male lead in Gilda.

The Lost Weekend (1945) – In The Apartment (1960), when Mr Dobisch and Mr Kirkeby are talking about Baxter and Miss Kubelik having a little toot, Mr Kirkeby says ‘Toot? More like a lost weekend!’. Both were written and directed by Billy Wilder.

Archie Leach – You know, Cary Grant’s real name. That everyone mentions as a joke in nearly all of his movies.

The Awful Truth (1937) – In Bringing up Baby (1938), Susan (Katharine Hepburn) refers to David (Cary Grant) as ‘Jerry the nipper’, his nickname in The Awful Truth (1937). David replies ‘She’s making all this up out of motion pictures she’s seen!’

More movie references next weekend!

Raw Deal (1948)


Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) is finally getting out of prison. He took the rap for his friend Rick, played by the 1948 Villain-in-Residence Raymond Burr (remember Pitfall (1948)?), who has now set up a deliberately flawed escape plan for him, to try and get rid of him for good. Pat (Claire Trevor), Joe’s girl and the movie’s narrator, helps him escape and the two of them kidnap Ann (Marsha Hunt), the social worker who’s been visiting Joe. This leads to an inevitable love triangle set in the midst of endless chasing, running away, mystery, danger and doom.

Anthony Mann’s Raw Deal is exactly that. Raw. Tough. No-nonsense. Unlike most noirs, there’s no backstory to help you sympathize, or at least, empathize with its characters. You don’t even know where you stand with Joe. What did he do? Is he guilty? Innocent? Is he as big a cad as he seems? We don’t know. What you see is all you’re going to get, deal with it.

Mann’s masterful direction is beautifully complemented by John Alton’s stunning cinematography. Raw Deal looks incredible. It takes your regular ‘shadows and dim light’ motif to a whole new level. In certain scenes, we almost feel like we’re watching some sort of psychological, gothic thriller. It’s amazing. Mann and Alton often worked together, and I’m going to be talking about another one of their movies soon.

Raw Deal is one of the all-time great unsung noirs. And you know me, I like to root for the underdog and the underrated – maybe I should do a series of reviews under that title? I’ll think about that.