Watching films, sometimes its full of surprises, and with this one I found a whole new discovery- the wonderful Judy Holliday, and with it another mystery, i.e. how in the world have I never, up to now, with all the films I have seen over the years, how have I never seen a film with Judy Holliday in it? Holliday is so wonderful in this; pretty, dizzy, goofy, funny, touching, just amazing- she blew me away. What a talent this woman was.
I look her up on imdb and get a list of films to put on my watch-list, and then look at her bio and it breaks my heart- Judy Holliday, born June 21, 1921, died June 7th 1965, of breast cancer, just shy of her 44th birthday. Good God. She was just 43 years of age. Life is so unfair, and looking up actors and actresses from old movies like I do only keeps on reminding me of the fact. I should stop doing it, its getting too depressing.
Likely her short life and limited screen career are partly why I’ve never seen her in any movie, or really even heard of her, but she won an Academy award for Best Actress for Born Yesterday in 1950 (yeah that’s top of the watch-list), so its not like she was an unknown or anything. The Oscar apparently left her typecast as the well-meaning dizzy blonde and after several more movies she left Hollywood to return to the stage and Broadway.
Well, I can only judge her by It Should Happen to You, but it seems to me there’s much more to her than the pretty but dizzy blonde, there’s much more going on there. She has fantastic screen presence, for one thing, this connection with the camera that only real movie stars seem to have. Some wonderful comic timing, too- its clear she was a genuine talent. Consider me smitten.
So anyway, what originally brought me to It Should Happen to You (lousy title for the film, by the way) was Jack Lemmon, who was the name on the credits that caught my attention when I noticed it on the tv guide. A ‘new’ Jack Lemmon film is always a special treat (I just hadn’t expected for Judy to steal the show and all my attention, but hey, like I said, films are full of surprises).
Hey, but another surprise, mind you- Jack Lemmon’s credit on this has ‘and introducing’ preceding it, so yeah, its his first movie. Funny thing though, like when watching Burt Lancaster in Dark City awhile ago, you see some of these movie legends in their first film and somehow its clear they are immediately destined for greatness. Jack is just perfectly fine in this as Pete Sheppard, a documentary film-maker in New York who bumps into Gladys Glover (Holliday) in Central Park, striking up a connection and eventual budding romance.
It Should Happen to You is a romantic comedy with quite timely observations about celebrity, fame and sexual politics that seem to echo down the decades and prove as relevant now as they did back in 1954. Its heartfelt and funny and witty and all those things that Hollywood used to be so good at. I don’t know, maybe its in how gorgeous 1950s New York looks, its all such a far cry from the modern world, there’s something almost sweet about it. Its a great movie. But of course what really makes it is that startling Judy Holliday, and having never seen her before. I feel like I’ve been under a rock or something, but I’m reminded of all those fantastic books that I’ll never read. Life is so short and there’s just so many great films, books and albums we can just never hope to see, read or hear all of them, certainly not even necessarily the best of them (just have to try to avoid the worst). I can only hope that anyone reading this who has never heard of Judy Holliday heeds my words and corrects that mistake. Meanwhile, I’ve got her Oscar-winning performance to track down…