Friday, August 08, 2008

"The Notorious Landlady" Returns!

I'm back from self-imposed limbo, feeling better and eager to share thoughts on overlooked movies - starting with Richard Quine's "The Notorious Landlady," heroically rescued from oblivion by Turner Classics which airs it at 2 p.m. (est) on Tuesday, August 12th.

Here is Jack Lemmon in a selection of shots bounding through the air in the film's climatic and wonderful chase sequence, which Quine and composer George Duning set to selections from Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance."

Makes me want to fly, too. Enjoy!
The End.

(Artwork: Jack Be Nimble - Lemmon at work on his own stuntwork in "The Notorious Landlady")

8 comments:

Carlye said...

As Estelle Winwood says at the end of that scene, "We-e-e-e!" Can't wait to see this gem again.

Daryl Chin said...

But that's not all the gems to be found on Kim Novak day in TCM's Summer Under the Stars: there's her delightful turn as the "college girl" in PHFFT!, and there are her performances in the noirs PUSHOVER and FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE (i'm especially anxious to see that one, haven't seen it since i was a child), and THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE...

Kim Novak really was a huge star in that period (1955-1964), and in that period it was fashionable to slight her: every time she was praised (as was her performance in MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, also being shown), it was always "Oh, Kim Novak is surprisingly effective in the part". How many times can she be "surprisingly effective" before it was acknowledged that she was consistently effective? (Evidently, never.) But she's funny in THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY, as she is in BELL BOOK AND CANDLE. (Jack Lemmon had a very conflicted opinion about Kim Novak: he loved working on PHFFT because he always loved working with Judy Holliday, but he hated BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, not because of Novak, but because it was a supporting part and he felt that, by 1958, he'd earned the right to be the star of the movie. On THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY, he was the star, and he was happy to work with Fred Astaire.)

Novak herself has actually been fairly circumscript about her Hollywood experiences. She remembers the shooting of VERTIGO as a good experience, yet, for decades, Hitchcock would complain about her. She tried to write a memoir, with a lot of help from a therapist (she has a lot of blank spots, where she can't remember what happened, because she hated so many of her experiences in Hollywood), but her house burned in one of those California wild fires about 15 years ago, and she has not felt the need to return to writing.

joe baltake said...

Daryl--

Love your comments on Novak and you're right when you note the critical establishment's annoying penchant for always commenting that she was "surprisingly good" in this or that. That meant, she was always good, right? The critics also said the same things about Glenn Ford in begrudgingly favorable reviews.

I worked closely with Lemmon on a book that I did about his work and we always had friendly arguments. He was never crazy about "Landlady," saying it was too confusing, but I love it - and, no, it's not confusing. It's much better than "Days of Wine and Roses," which he made immediately after "Landlady" and which Jack always preferred for obvious reasons.

Jack, love him, was like a lot of actors - he had high regard for the films and performances that brought him a lot of attention, while the others faded into the recesses of his mind. Much of his opinion of "Bell, Book and Candle," he inherited from Billy Wilder, who thought the film was beneath Lemmon's ability, an elitist viewpoint. But Jack's a delight in it and I would put that Quine gem up against any of Wilder's titles, many of which have become overrated in the passing years.

As for Novak, I always thought that she had a much more interesting filmmography than Monroe - and worked with a more fascinating selection of filmmakers. But that's just me.

P.S. "Lylah Clare" rocks!

joe baltake said...

Carlye--

Of course, you're aware that Kim Novak's name in "The Notorious Landlady" is ... Carly.

--JB

jbryant said...

Yeah, I think my DVR will be getting quite a workout on Novak day.

And with any luck at all, I'll be enjoying Landlady on the big screen this Saturday night.

joe baltake said...

Jay--

I think - I'm hoping - that you will find its dialogue particuarly literate and witty. There's some snappy repartee in the film, thanks to Gelbart and Edwards.

wwolfe said...

Someone mentioned here in a discussion of "Strangers When We Meet" that it might be time for a re-evaluation of Richard Quine's career. Seeing "Pushover" and "The Notorious Landlady" seems like a good place to start.

As a newly minted teenager in the early 1970s, seeing "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders" on a Cleveland UHF station had a profound impact on me. I can't say it was great cinematic art (although the first half is light and charming, with a pleasant camaraderie between Novak and Jeanne Moreau), but Novak was a certified, 100 proof knockout. I agree with the poster who said that she has a more interesting filmography than Monroe - in fact, I don't think it's even close.

wwolfe said...

Well, this is what happens when I write something much too quickly: I've mixed up "Moll Flanders" with "Viva Maria!," two very different movies which share only a fervent belief in the superhuman power of their lead actresses' decolletage. I suppose this speaks to the ability of said power to addle the wits of at least one pubescent viewer - an effect that apparently persists even three decades after the fact.