Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {It Should Happen To You}

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As you know, this month's theme is "Money Isn't Everything" and since the start of the twentieth century, money and fame have gone together, so I thought that this 1954 comedy would be appropriate. The director, George Cukor, said that it was a commentary on the nature of celebrity and why people were famous.
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This is a young Jack Lemmon in his first movie. He plays Pete Sheppard, a young documentary film maker. One day he's taking his 16mm around Central Park to look for interesting shots.
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He then notices a girl wandering around the park carrying her shoes. Naturally, this is slightly odd behaviour as even in 1954 stockings were dashed expensive and one just doesn't expose one's nylons to the harsh pavement.
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But Pete is intrigued, so he introduces himself. She's Gladys Glover and she's just lost her job and is questioning whether or not to stick to fulfilling her New York dream. She moved to New York to try to make a name for herself and to "be somebody". When Pete asks why she wants to be somebody, she just wants to stand apart from the crowd. Gladys also believes that she thinks better when she takes off her shoes. Judy Holliday is fresh off her Oscar win for Born Yesterday. Garson Kanin originally wrote the script as a vehicle for Danny Kaye, but his wife Ruth Gordon (of Harold and Maude fame) suggested Judy Holliday instead and she's perfect as Gladys!
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On her way home, Gladys walks through Columbus Circle and sees a giant billboard for rent.
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She then gets this funny idea in her head about what she could do with a billboard.
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So, the next day, she goes out and uses her savings to rent the billboard for three months.
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And now the conflict: Peter Lawford plays Even Adams III, of the Adams Soap Company, which has always rented the billboard to advertise their summer campaign. However, he delayed in signing for the billboard and when Gladys came to rent it, she got it instead.
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So, Adams invites Gladys to the office to discuss the billboard and she puts on her best suit, with the matching feathered hat that can be used as a murder weapon and turns down his offer to buy her lease.
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When Gladys comes home, she finds out that Pete has rented the room down the hall and they become friends.
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She did, however, accept a date with Even Adams III and he takes her to a fancy nightclub where she can play Spot the Star.
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I love this dress!
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A few days later and Gladys and her awesome hat are back at Peter Lawford's office where he offers her six billboards in exchange for her giant one.
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She even gets one with her name in lights!
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Pete doesn't like Gladys' obsession with her billboards because he really likes her. She's kind, funny, easy to talk to and she can cook. Okay, so she's a little screwy but you can't have everything.
Pete argues that if this billboard idea does work, she will be famous for absolutely nothing. Pete believes that it is better to have your name men something on one block than to be world famous for nothing. But he does agree to not be the one to burst Gladys' bubble and to wait out the three months until her billboards are finished in order to spend time with her and then to have a serious talk afterwards about their future. Unfortunately, Gladys doesn't pick up on this last part of his speech.
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In three months, all she has managed to do was to create a mob of autograph hunters in Macy's, which has a view of one of her billboards.
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And then a couple of days before her billboard scheme finishes, a news anchor says that he doesn't believes that there is a Gladys Glover.
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So, she telephones to complain and the newsman comes down to hear her story and to offer to become her manager, for a small fee of course.
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So, he gets her on television to tell her story and she becomes a charming novelty sensation.
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Pete doesn't like it.
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Gladys then appears on television shows all week, including those panel shows that discuss important issues.
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Pete's getting a little tired of it all.
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And then the Adams Soap Company has an idea to exploit this interest in Gladys. Advertise their soap using her as the All American Girl.
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So, for a lot of money, Gladys is pictured doing All American activities like posing in bubble baths, skiing indoors and hugging a gun.
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And then Evan Adams III has an idea for a cross-country personal appearance tour and would Gladys like to come back to his place tonight for a business meeting to discuss it.
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Unfortunately this is the night that Pete was going to take Gladys to meet his parents and Gladys, being so naive and focused on being famous for no reason, doesn't realize the importance of meeting the parents nor does she realize what kind of a business meeting she's going to.
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Because this is Peter Lawford, the kind of meeting he had in mind involves champagne and dim lighting. Judy Holliday uses one of the best lines ever to excuse herself.
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That's a great jacket that we only get a glimpse of.
Pete's had enough so he moves out and make a farewell film.
So, does Gladys come to her senses?
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It's on DVD, but I think only on Region 1. It will also be shown on TCM on 18th Feb. at 6:30pm EST.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {Holiday}

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Ta-da! From the same year as Bringing Up Baby, it's this lesser known but still perfectly marvellous pairing of KH and Cary Grant.
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Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon play Nick and Susan. He's a professor and she's an intellectual.
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Nick and Susan are old friends with Johnny Case, a free-thinker who's been working since he was 10 years old (remember that) and he now does something big in business. Anyway, he finally went on his first vacation in twenty years and he met this girl -you know the story.
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Her name's Julia and she's beautiful and sweet and beautiful. All Johnny can talk about is her beauty. He didn't even find out that she lives in this huge mansion on the Upper West Side.
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Or that her house has it's own elevator. You know, one of the first things that I ask someone new is "Does your house have it's own private elevator?". After all, if they say yes, then you would want to be friends with them for a long time, even just for the novelty of having a friend with their own elevator.
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You know Johnny, before you go rushing into things, maybe you should have found out more about Julia, like why is she wearing that ridiculous half of a fur sleeve?
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Or maybe you should have met her sister Linda first. Linda is really much nicer Johnny.
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Linda lives upstairs in the playroom, the only part of the house that doesn't resemble a tomb.
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That's right Johnny, you and your crooked bow tie have gone for beauty instead of personality and picked the wrong girl, but don't realize that yet, the movie's only just started.
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From the moment that they got back to New York, Julia has subtly been trying to change Johnny, mostly with his hair and bow tie. Clearly she has not heard that bow ties are cool!
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And now it's time to meet Daddy. We will not get into the fact that all three adult Seton children have father issues, Ned and Linda with his dominance and Julia wanting to turn Johnny into her father before they get married. Instead we will just look at the look on Papa's face as he listens to Johnny tell him of how he's worked his way through Harvard by doing hard labour jobs. Yes, he has no social background but how did you earn your money Mr. Seton? By inheriting?
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Johnny may be a free-thinker, but he wont be once Julia becomes Mrs. Case.
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Linda has been deceived by Julia's beauty all her life and is totally convinced that Julia loves Johnny just the way he is. You can see the difference between the sisters just in their sleep wear, with Julia's fussy pyjamas with far too many buttons and Linda's easy-going chenille robe. Linda wants to give a small party up in the play room to announce the engagement.
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A nice, intimate gathering with no formalities.
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That's a very Thirties gold lamé gown with a New Look belt, don't you think.
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These are the Seton's horrible cousins: Seton and Laura Cram. I could be wrong, but don't you think that Laura's hair is just a few years too early?
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Poor brother Ned. He hates working for father and isn't very good at it. He wanted to be a composer, so instead he took up drinking as a hobby.
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Nick and Susan don't like the look of what Johnny has gotten himself into.
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Rather then face the party, they let the elevator decide where they're going.
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And they wind up at the real party in the play room.
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Poor Johnny. He's slowly realizing the mistake he's making since Punch and Judy are making more sense then he is.
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One of my favourite lines in the picture:
"My Daddy made me promise to stop after my first million"
"You are probably joking Professor"
My Dad made me promise the same thing, only with inflation and the rise of the cost of living, it's now my first twenty million, but I'll settle for ten.
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Yes, KH and Cary Grant are doing their own stunts.
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I love how simple her dress is and the jewellery is just right, not to much or too little.
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Johnny has just made a lot of money with a business deal and he can now tell Julia and Daddy what he has been waiting for his entire life: make some money now and retire early when he's still young and healthy, so that he go on holiday and can find out who he is, what the point of making more money then you could ever need is and generally the meaning of life and then go back to work when he's old.
This goes over like a lead balloon.
"What!?!" says Daddy
"But Johnny, there's no thrill in the world like making money" says Julia
You can tell that neither of them have ever had to work in their lives and that Daddy should have hired Julia instead of Ned.
I think that Johnny's theory of retire early, work late is interesting and makes sense. I would like to test this theory and will accept large donations made to my PayPal account. For purely scientific research purposes, you know.

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Finally, Johnny realizes that he did pick the wrong girl, but Linda is still convinced that Julia is in love with Johnny as he is, not just for how she sees his potential for becoming an important and rich man.
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Johnny disappears for a few days to think and Linda goes to the Potter's to find out more. Naturally they realize that Linda's in love with him and they like her better. Nick and Susan are sailing to France for research and Johnny wants to start his holiday with them and Julia. If only he can convince her to go.
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Finally, Linda starts to see Julia as she really is.
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What an interesting dress!
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So, what does Johnny decide? Is he more in love with Julia or the idea of being free? And what does Linda do about her feelings for Johnny?
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Holiday is on DVD and at the moment in 13 parts on YouTube.
I could find a trailer, so here is a clip video that someone made of some of the best moments.