Jack Lemmon

February 04, 2009

I have knack for falling in love with films that a) have no fans in the world except me, or b) were considered stains on the careers of otherwise wonderful filmmakers. Case in point: The Notorious Landlady. Apparently Jack Lemmon said that he didn't understand the script at all, and that years later he caught a rerun of the movie and still had no idea what any of his dialogue meant. So of course, I simply adore this movie. (Along with other "flops" like Paris When it Sizzles and Mademoiselle Fifi)

I saw it for the first time last year during a Kim Novak marathon on TCM’s Summer Under the Stars salute. I thought "Fred Astaire, Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak? I've got to see it!" Since then I've watched it about five times, and I love it more with each viewing. The movie takes place in London, and the plot centers around an American state department worker who takes up residence in a flat owned by (you guessed it) "the notorious landlady." Granted, this movie isn't for everyone. It has about a gazillion twists and turns so you have to stay on your toes (not the kind of movie to, say, knit-eat-blog-and-watch... It's a sit down and watch it and do nothing else kind of movie) It also takes quick jumps from farce to mystery to silent movie parody to drama. But it's all of these unique qualities that make the movie so special. There really is no other film quite like it, and that is why I love it so much. Oh yeah, and it is out-of-this-world funny, suspenseful, well acted, well written, and it has a decidedly British flair for an American movie.

Now, if you haven't seen it, or if you caught it on TV once and want to see it again, you might run into a little trouble here: the only place I could find it in stock was moviesunlimited.com ($18.99). It's not available on Netflix, and Amazon only has 2 used copies for the same price. And TCM doesn't have it scheduled to play again in the next 4 months. I've been trying hard to avoid recommending movies that can't be easily found on DVD, but of all the Jack Lemmon movies out there, this really is my favorite and I just had to write about it.

If you're feeling sour about the availability of this movie but still in the mood for Lemmon, then I will suggest my second favorite which is on DVD. I think I mentioned this movie in my Judy Holliday post- It Should Happen To You. It was actually Jack Lemmon's film debut, and I think one of his best movies.

On the off chance that you do get a chance to see The Notorious Landlady, I really hope you like it as much as I do.


Millie said...

Oh, I have wanted to see, "NL" for SO long! Fred and Jack are both in my top ten favorite actors.

I am the same way about “bad” movies. Even if it isn’t the certain actor’s best, there is still always something interesting in it!

Anonymous said...

I treasure "The Notorious Landlady" too--it's great fun! And, funny thing, I caught it for the first time on that same Kim Novak day this past Summer Under the Stars.

One thing I noticed: as Jack Lemmon is running up the stairs after Kim Novak (just before she hops in the tub, I think), he grabs the pillar at the stairway landing and leaves a beautiful handprinted smudge. The finish on that pillar must have been still wet.

Oh, "Paris When It Sizzles" is another one I adore. Both "Paris" and "Landlady" were directed by Richard Quine, weren't they?


Unknown said...

I'll have to look for that goof the next time I watch it!

They were both Richard Quine pictures, as was Bell Book and Candle, another Lemmon/Novak movie I adore!

Last time I heard Robert Osborne talk about Paris when it Sizzles he said something like "the next time they starred together was in Paris When It Sizzles. The problem was, it didn't [sizzle]" I thought that was awful- it's such a fun unique movie. SOrt of like Landlady, it has so much going on, very fast paced and strange.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I'd never heard of this film. Think I want to check out it, if only because the idea that Lemmon had no idea what it is about is hilarious, and so Lemmonesque!

Unknown said...

Very lemmonesque :)
I think he was crazy not to like it, though.. it's one of my favorites!

Tom said...

Ooh. This movie is part of the new Jack Lemmon box set that came out a few months ago. I have yet to watch it. Can't wait!!!

Unknown said...

Ooh, I didn't know it was on DVD now! I hope you enjoy it!