Saturday, May 24, 2008
"The Notorious Landlady" Surfaces!
That's Jack Lemmon jumping for joy. Actually, it's a shot from the climatic (and hilarious) foot chase from Richard Quine's long-missing 1962 comic gem, "The Notorious Landlady."
But I'd like to think Jack is jumping for joy over that fact that Turner Classics has come to the film's rescue, scheduling it for a 2 p.m. showing (est) on Tuesday, August 12th, as part of an all-day Kim Novak marathon.
A second lost Lemmon-Quine comedy, 1957's "Operation Mad Ball," had previously been scheduled by Turner for a showing on Saturday, July 19th at 8 a.m. (est). Neither title has ever been released on home entertainment in any form.
I was alerted to the "Landlady" broadcast by a fellow fan of the film, named John, who's from Ohio and who wrote in:
"I share your love of 'The Notorious Landlady.' I saw this film at the Valley Drive-In theatre in Newark, Ohio. It was the first feature of a four-film 'Dusk to Dawn' showcase. We stayed through all four films. Following 'The Notorious Landlady' was 'Ride the High Country' with Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott, 'Claudelle Inglish' with Diane McBain and Arthur Kennedy and 'Satan Never Sleeps' with William Holden and Clifton Webb. I can't wait to see it again."
Wow. "Claudelle Inglish" with Diane McBain. Another lost title.
John went on to share drive-in memories that made me particularly nostalgic:
"I saved all of the old flyers that our two local drive-ins issued. I have most of them from 1962 up until they stopped printing them around 1971 or so. I'm able to look through them and remember what films I saw.
"We went to two other 'Dusk to Dawn' specials around that time. The first was 'Spencer's Mountain' with Henry Fonda and Maureen O' Hara, 'The Thrill of It All' with Doris Day and James Garner, Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' and 'Gidget Goes to Rome.'
"The final one we went to was made up of 'Days of Wine and Roses' with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, 'Captain Newman M.D.' with Gregory Peck and Tony Curtis, 'A Gathering of Eagles' with Rock Hudson and Rod Taylor and '40 Pounds of Trouble' with Tony Curtis and Suzanne Pleshette. That's a lot of movies for one admission price."
Who says movies are better than ever? Those marathons sound like heaven to me, especially at a drive-in venue. Drive-ins were great for families, who could make all the noise they wanted without disturbing anyone; for young couples who wanted a little privacy and for movie buffs who wanted to discuss the film while it was in progress (again, without disturbing anyone else).
But back to "The Notorious Landlady," a tight and tidy mix of Hitchcock hommage and comic sophistication, boasting a particularly literate script co-written by Blake Edwards and Larry Gelbart ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and TV's "M*A*S*H"), based on a short story by Britain's Margery Sharp that originally appeared in Collier's magazine (under the title "The Notorious Tenant"), the February 3rd, 1956 issue.
Aside from Lemmon and Novak, the top-flight cast includes Fred Astaire, Lionel Jeffries, Estelle Winwood, Maxwell Reed and Phileppa Bevans. George Duning handled the score which makes good use of George and Ira Gershwin's "A Foggy Day" (fitting for the London settng) and strains from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" for the chase finale.
BTW, the day that Turner has set aside for Novak drives home the point that she has a most interesting filmography. Also screening on August 12th are George Sidney's "The Eddie Duchin Story" and "Jeanne Eagles," Mark Robson's "Phffft!" (also with Lemmon), Billy Wilder's "Kiss Me, Stupid," Delbert Mann's "Middle of the Night," Robert Aldrich's camp classic, "The Legend of Lylah Clare," Quine's "Strangers When We Meet" and "Pushover," Phil Karlson's "Five Agaist the House," Ken Hughes' "Of Human Bondage" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," natch.
All that's missing are Quine's "Bell, Book and Candle," Sidney's "Pal Joey," Otto Preminger's "The Man with the Golden Arm" and Joshua Logan's "Picnic."
Novak is long overdue for a tribute, preferrably at Lincoln Center. She worked with a lot of great filmmakers and must have tons of stories.
As for "The Notorious Landlady," hopefully, it's next stop will be on DVD.
(Artwork: Lemmon in the climatic chase scene in Quine's long-missing "The Notorious Landlady"; Lemmon between takes with Novak, and Lemmon and Novak in a publicity shot for the film)
Posted by joe baltake at 10:36 PM