I 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.
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