Friday, February 8, 2008

Jack Lemmon, 1925-2001

Head shot of Jack Lemmon,Jack Lemmon, 1925-2001

February 8, 2008, marks the 83d birth anniversary of Jack Lemmon. Lemmon might be best known for his appearance in The Odd Couple, in which he played the fastidious Felix Unger; TCM is airing that at 1:45 PM ET this coming Tuesday, followed immediately by another Lemmon movie, The Apartment. (This despite the fact that Lemmon won an Oscar for Save the Tiger, airing on TCM at 10:30 PM ET on February 15.)

But I'd like to mention a different Lemmon movie, his first substantial role: It Should Happen To You. Lemmon plays a documentary filmmaker in New York City named Pete Sheppard. One day in Central Park, he meets a down-on-her-luck woman named Gladys Glover (played by Judy Holliday). It turns out that they live in the same apartment building, and Sheppard finds out that Gladys is a bit strange: she's taken out a billboard with nothing but her name on it. But this works out well for her, as the company that would normally rent that space pays Glover good money fot that advertising space, which she uses to take out more billboards, eventually leading to her becoming a celebrity.

Of course, there's a catch. She's fallen in love with Sheppard, but one of her managers, played by Peter Lawford, has also fallen in love with her -- and he's much better off financially than she could ever hope to be with poor Jack Lemmon. It Should Happen to You is a delightful romantic comedy, as Judy Holliday was always brilliant at comedy, while Lemmon was more than up to the task and is quite sympathetic as her love interest. Fortunately, this movie is available on DVD, so you don't have to wait for it to show up on any of the classic movie channels.

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