Posts Tagged ‘jack lemmon’

The same year that James Stewart and Kim Novak starred together in Hitchcock’s classic ‘Vertigo’, they also starred in this romantic comedy.  Kim Novak is Gillian Holroyd, a beautiful young woman who hates her publisher neighbour Shepherd Henderson’s (James Stewart) fiancee, so casts a spell to split them up.  But then Shepherd falls for Gillian, unaware that she is a witch.  Jack Lemmon also stars, as Gillian’s adorable warlock brother Nicky.

Although the storyline might be considered a bit corny, the stellar cast of Novak, Stewart and Lemmon, who are ably supported by Ernie Kovacs, as an author of books about witches, who is a bit too fond of bourbon (or whisky, or whatever else is on offer) and Elsa Lanchester as Gillian’s aunt Queenie, who is also a witch, raise the standard of this film.  Let’s be clear – the witches are above all endearing and definitely not frightening (nor are they intended to be!)  Lemmon is just adorable – but when isn’t he? – as Nicky, and Novak is, if you’ll excuse the expression, completely bewitching.  It’s hard not to imagine Shepherd falling for her with or without the use of witchcraft to move things along.

James Stewart pretty much stopped playing the romantic lead type role after this film, feeling that he was too old for it.  He was indeed 25 years older than Novak, but somehow I hardly seemed to notice – they had great chemistry together.  The story was amusing, if not laugh-out-loud funny (the funniest parts were courtesy of Lemmon and Lanchester), and very sweet.  Special mention for Gillian’s familiar, the lovely cat Pyewacket (Novak ended up adopting the cat after filming was completed).  The ending is fairly predictable, but there are a few surprises in store along the way.

All in all, I would say that this is not the best film in the back catalogue of any of these actors, but it is an enjoyable and heartwarming story, and a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

Year of release: 1958

Director: Richard Quine

Producer: Julian Blaustein

Writers: John Van Druten (play ‘Bell, Book and Candle), Daniel Taradash

Main cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Elsa Lanchester, Ernie Kovacs, Janice Rule


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I suspected this after watching films like Sunset Blvd., Sabrina and Some Like It Hot, but The Apartment has confirmed it for me – Billy Wilder was a blooming’ genius!  Here, Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a mild-mannered bachelor, who lets the married executives at the insurance company where he works, use his apartment for their extra-marital trysts, in the hope that they will help him gain a promotion.  However, things get complicated when he falls for Fran (Shirley MacLaine) the girlfriend of one of his boss Mr Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).  The film blends drama, romance and comedy.

Jack Lemmon is just superb in this film – he always seems able to create such vulnerable and sweet characters, and has such a wonderfully expressive face, which means that roles like this suit him completely.  I loved his interaction with Shirley MacLaine, who was also wonderful.  As we saw the pain that both characters go through – C.C. when realising that Fran is involved with his boss, and Fran’s heartbreak at being the ‘other woman’, the sadness is almost palpable.  Fred MacMurray was fine as said boss, although completely unlikeable (which was exactly the way he was meant to be).

There were some funny moments, and a lot of poignant moments with people not being able to say what they so desperately want to say, and Baxter being forced to make himself look like a heel in front of his neighbours, and certainly there were scenes which made me cry.  The ending though was perfect – although I’m not giving anything away…if you haven’t seen this film, you should, and you ought not to know what is going to happen! This is a grown-up love story, far from being a fairytale romance.  It has cynicism, sadness, anger, laughter, hope and revelation, and is quite simply a must-see film.

Year of release: 1960

Director: Billy Wilder

Producers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Writers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen

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Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau team up again for this comedy about two longtime neighbours, who end up falling for the same woman, when she moves into their street.  Ariel (Ann-Margret) is flighty, flirty and gorgeous, and before long, John Gustavson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau) are competing for her affections, and playing dirty tricks on each other.

Some actors just gel together, and Lemmon and Matthau bounce off each other perfectly – just like in their younger days – as ‘frenemies’.  There are a lot of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments too, as John and Max constantly try to one-up each other.

More surprising are the moments of pathos – all three of the main leads are lonely to some extent, and looking for something new in their life.  Lemmon plays vulnerable to a tee, and Matthau also elicits sympathy with his familiar hang-dog expression and the sense that for him, life is passing too quickly. Ann-Margret looks beautiful, and is perfectly cast as the woman who brings a spark back into their lives.

Burgess Meredith is wonderful in a supporting role as John’s father, who at the age of 94, lives life with gleeful abandon, and Darryl Hannah and Kevin Pollack are both great in their roles as John’s daughter and Max’s son (who are also obviously attracted to one another).

As the film is set from Thanksgiving to Christmas, it would be a perfect holiday movie, one to appeal to all ages, and is sure to provide plenty of belly laughs.  Highly recommended.

Year of release: 1993

Director: Donald Petrie

Producers: Dan Kolsrud, Richard C. Berman, John Davis, Darlene K. Chan, Kathy Sarreal

Writer: Mark Steven Johnson

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ossie Davis, Darryl Hannah, Kevin Pollack


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In Chicago in 1929, musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) witness a mob hit, and decide to get out of town described as women in an all-female music group, where they meet singer and ukelele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).  Romance, complications and comedy ensue!

Some Like It Hot was voted number 1 on the AFI’s list of the top 100 comedies of all time.  In the past, I have sometimes been disappointed by films which have been so hyped up, so I wasn’t sure what I would make of this.  However, I absolutely adored it.  The three leads are all wonderful – Marilyn was made for this role – she absolutely sizzles – and Curtis and Lemmon play perfectly off each other.  (My personal favourite was Jack Lemmon, who was so utterly endearing, and laugh-out-loud funny, both as Jerry and his female alter-ego, Daphne.)

Naturally two men posing as women, in the company of young and pretty actual women gives rise to plenty of opportunity for comedy and romance, and Curtis was so funny as both ‘Geraldine’ and Junior – a third identity which he adopts in order to woo Sugar!  Meanwhile, ‘Daphne’ has caught the eye of millionaire yacht owner Osgood Fielding III, who decides he wants to make her his eighth wife (or ninth – he can’t really remember how many times he has been married).

This film is one that really is worth all the hype.  It’s sexy and sweet, and really, truly, incredibly funny.  Billy Wilder was a legendary director, and films like this, Sunset Blvd and Stalag 17 show us exactly why.  Watch it whenever you need a good belly laugh!

Year of release: 1959

Director: Billy Wilder

Producers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Writers: Billy wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Robert Thoeren, Michael Logan

Main cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown, Joan Shawlee,

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This film is notable for being Jack Lemmon’s big-screen debut, and also for being way ahead of its time in terms of celebrity culture. In this romantic comedy, he plays film-maker Pete Sheppard, who, while filming in Central Park, NYC, meets Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday), a model who has just lost her job, and is considering leaving New York and going back to her home town. After their brief chat, Gladys decides to rent a billboard and put her name on it. Just her name, nothing else. Before long, she becomes a celebrity, although nobody is sure exactly what it is that she does, but she is invited on to tv chat shows, and even has the Air Force name a plane after her! Trouble is, that all of the stardom that she so craved and now has, causes friction between her and Pete, who have become friends, and harbour a deep affection for each other. Pete recognises the shallowness of her fame for what it is, but Gladys has trouble seeing past the fact that everybody finally knows who she is. She also has to cope with the unwanted attentions of Evan Adams III (Peter Lawford), a businessman who wants to get together with Gladys for his own nefarious ends.

The film is very enjoyable, and both Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon are great in their roles. There is real chemistry between them, and although they are divided by their opinions on Gladys’ fame, they are both very endearing. I kept rooting for them to get their act together, and for Gladys to realise what was important to her.

The storyline seems more relevant today than ever, highlighting as it does the nature of celebrity; people become famous for being famous, or they become stars because the public are told that they should like these people. What does Gladys actually do to get invited to give her opinions on a tv programme? Why does she deserve to have an Air Force plane named after her? In this day and age, it seems that people are always getting famous, despite not having any job, or indeed the talent and intelligence required for such a job.

However, this film is not a serious study – it’s a comedy and a very sweet and charming one. Jack Lemmon definitely had the likeability factor, and this film demonstrates that it was there for him right from the beginning. Judy Holliday is perfect also, and Peter Lawford is just fine as the horrible Evan.

Overall, definitely a film I would recommend!

Year of release: 1954

Director: George Cukor

Producer: Fred Kohlmar

Writer: Garson Kanin

Main cast: Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Peter Lawford

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Having watched the version of this film starring Henry Fonda – which I very much enjoyed – I wanted to watch this 1997 remake for comparison purposes.  Here. Jack Lemmon plays juror number 8, and as an always reliable actor, he plays the part well.

Much of the script remains unchanged from the 1957 film, and there are no changes whatsoever in the storyline itself.  There are a few added lines (and I was particularly sad to see that one scene had been cut out, albeit that that scene added little to the storyline itself, but I found it poignant in the 1957 film, nonetheless).

However, I do prefer the original film.  Fonda really made the role his own, and while Lemmon is an equally talented actor, I preferred the supporting cast in the first movie.  Lee J. Cobb, who played juror number 3 – the one most determined to find the defendant guilty at any and all cost – inhabited the part better than George C. Scott did in the 1997 film.  The same goes for most of the other characters too – except for two.  Mykelti Williamson (juror number 10) and Ossie Davis (juror number 1) were both excellent here, and Williamson in particular lit up the screen with his sheer presence.  His performance was superb.

As the story was brought up to date, the jury was multi racial; of course in reality there would almost certainly have been women on the jury as well, but as screenwriter Reginald Rose (who wrote the original script for the play which was adapted for the original film) pointed out – to have included women, the title would have had to have been changed to 12 Angry Persons, which wouldn’t have been as effective.

Some remakes are awful.  This one really isn’t, and in fact taken on its own merits it is a film well worth watching; however, I would strongly recommend watching the 1957 film as well – although I watched both within a few days, I certainly didn’t feel bored with either version.

Year of release: 1997

Director: William Friedkin

Writer: Reginald Rose

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Mykelti Williamson, Courtney B. Vance, George C. Scott, Tony Danza, Ossie Davis, Hume Cronyn


Click here for my review of 12 Angry Men (1957)

Click here for my review of the 2013 stage adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Click here for my review of the 2015 stage adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.


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This review relates to the 1970 film starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis.  It was remade in the 90s with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the remake to compare the two.

Lemmon and Dennis play George and Gwen Kellerman, a couple from Ohio who hope to move to New York City when his firm offer him an interview for a promotion.  However, their troubles start when their plane’s landing it delayed for hours and then eventually redirected to Boston.  With only one night to get from Boston to NYC for his interview the following morning, George and Gwen embark on a tumultuous journey – and when they reach New York, things don’t improve, with problems of all kinds (mugging, lost luggage, no hotel room are just some of the things they encounter) mounting up…

Jack Lemmon is one of those actors who it’s almost impossible to dislike, and he plays a terrific part here.  As the slightly neurotic Kellerman, determinedly writing down the names of everyone who he feels has wrong him in order that he can sue them, he shines.  In the hands of a different actor, George could have been an annoying character, and while he can be frustrating, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him.  Sandy Dennis was the perfect foil as his loving but long suffering wife, providing many comic moments of her own.

From the moment that the plane is delayed (causing George to start obsessing over whether the couple will make their evening booking at the Four Season restaurant) it’s clear that the viewer is in for a lot of fun.  It’s basically one long series of mishaps and misfortunes, but the two leads make it very funny and well worth watching for a bit of light hearted entertainment.  Despite being over 40 years old, and therefore inevitably looking slightly dated, the film still feels fresh and doesn’t seem to have lost any of its humour.

If you liked Planes Trains and Automobiles, or are a fan of Jack Lemmon, I’d recommend giving this one a try!

Year of release: 1970

Director: Arthur Hiller

Writer: Neil Simon

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Sandy Dennis

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