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.
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.
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.
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!
On her way home, Gladys walks through Columbus Circle and sees a giant billboard for rent.
She then gets this funny idea in her head about what she could do with a billboard.
So, the next day, she goes out and uses her savings to rent the billboard for three months.
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.
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.
When Gladys comes home, she finds out that Pete has rented the room down the hall and they become friends.
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.
I love this dress!
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.
She even gets one with her name in lights!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, he gets her on television to tell her story and she becomes a charming novelty sensation.
Pete doesn't like it.
Gladys then appears on television shows all week, including those panel shows that discuss important issues.
Pete's getting a little tired of it all.
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.
So, for a lot of money, Gladys is pictured doing All American activities like posing in bubble baths, skiing indoors and hugging a gun.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.