Friday, June 29, 2012

(30) Stars of Summer - Day 29: Jack Lemmon

The second-to-last day of (30) Stars of Summer is both sour and sweet.

Seriously? There's two days left. But once again here are the rules. Check out this list of all the month's actors with links to what's available on Netflix Instant. If you're not a Netflix subscriber, maybe this will help.

Day 1: Jimmy Stewart
Day 2: Catherine Deneuve
Day 3: Christopher Lee
Day 4: Bette Davis
Day 5: Nicolas Cage
Day 6: Diane Keaton 
Day 7: Orson Welles 
Day 8: Catherine Keener 
Day 9: Kurt Russell
Day 10: Pam Grier
Day 11: Clint Eastwood
Day 12: Susan Sarandon 
Day 13: Cary Grant 
Day 14: Barbara Stanwyck 
Day 15: Keith David 
Day 16: Frances McDormand 
Day 17: Gary Oldman 
Day 18: Marilyn Monroe 
Day 19: Dick Miller 
Day 20: Jennifer Jason Leigh 
Day 21: Laurence Fishburne 
Day 22: Whoopi Goldberg
Day 23: Kevin Bacon
Day 24: Christina Ricci 
Day 25: Jack Nicholson 
Day 26: Melanie Griffith
Day 27: Jackie Chan
Day 28: Barbara Steele


  1. The China Syndrome (1979)

    I hadn't seen this film since the early 80s, and wanted to see how it held up. Pretty damn good, as it turns out. Lemmon is the heart of the movie, giving a terrific performance as a nuclear power plant supervisor who uncovers dangerous shortcuts in the plant's construction. Because Jane Fonda gets top billing, the filmmakers tried to make a parallel between her and Lemmon as individuals each under enormous pressure to not "rock the boat." However, Fonda's story cannot hope to match Lemmon's in either intensity or importance. This leads to a somewhat surreal ending, where the last bit of "suspense" is whether or not Fonda's character will pull herself together on air to wrap the story up. SPOILER ALERT. She does!

  2. Bah, got off to a good start but haven't been participating at all since - I just don't get to watch as many movies as I'd like to in the summer. I did, however, go to a theatre screening of Back to the Future last week - SO MUCH FUN. If you ever get the opportunity to do it, even if you have watched it recently, go for it. Watching everything work so perfectly on a couple hundred people adds a lot to the experience.

    I'll try to watch a Jack Lemmon movie tonight, but for now I've got a Jack Lemmon story that's kinda funny. On the morning of December 8, 1980, my aunt met her father for breakfast. When they sat down he said very gravely, "I'm sorry to break this news to you, but someone shot Jack Lemmon - he's dead." My aunt was surprised more than anything - "Why would anyone want to shoot Jack Lemmon!?" She didn't take the news nearly as hard as her father seemed to think she would and of course she would find out later that he meant "John Lennon"! Sooo...I GUESS that's a funny story? It's gotta be one of the funniest Jack Lemmon/John Lennon getting murdered story at least!

  3. Irma la Douce (1963) -

    The director and stars of The Apartment reunite for a movie that is definitely NOT The Apartment. Shirley Maclaine is cute, Jack Lemmon is Jack Lemmon, but the most is overlong by about 45 minutes and very frustrating. Lemmon plays a former police officer who falls in love with a prostitute but can't handle her being with anyone else, so he poses as a stuffy aristocrat to act as her best client. Because LOVE. The Technicolor is great, and at least I can check another Billy Wilder movie off the list.

  4. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

    I skipped Marilyn Monroe day because, frankly, I didn't care much for her filmography ("The Misfits" came the closest to interesting me, and it was still just good) so I might as well get her and Jack as a two-fer in this one. I saw this only because AFC named it the funniest comedy of all time, and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. I'm sure at one point in '59 seeing Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dressed in drag to avoid the mob (with Marilyn doing her cute-and-ditzy blonde routine for all the eye-candy factor its worth) was the height of hilarity, just as seeing Milton Behrle on TV in drag on the early days of TV was a hoot-and-a-half. Point is, this movie's so-called humor has aged badly and other than Curtis and Lemmon being wonderfully committed to Billy Wilder's energy it's just a drag (get it? Har, har!) just to sit through it again in 2012.

    1. I don't want to say that your opinion is wrong, but that's exactly what I'm saying. I just gotta take umbrage with your use of the phrase "so-called humor"...the drag shtick may not be your cup of Yoo-Hoo but it's hardly all the movie has to offer. Snappy dialogue, great characterization, and a killer Cary Grant impression are just the tip of the joyberg.

    2. I always thought the best thing about Billy Wilder's dialogue was how contemporary it manages to still feel -- minus a few cultural references. I think the movie absolutely holds up.

    3. Yes, I show this every semester in Film Studies, and year in and year out, students tell me it was their favorite film of the entire class. It absolutely holds up. One of the greatest last lines in movie history to boot.

    4. I'm not bothered by the review but by the oversimplifying of the time and the audiences of it, as if they weren't grown-ups who performed surgeries, ran governments, and raised happy families.

      Not like us sophisticates with our zombie apocalypse video games, TV season DVD box sets, and pocket games for all occasions.

    5. Hey, I went into it fully expecting to at least appreciate it. I love old movies, Wilder's a master, Lemon & Curtis have chemistry (with each other, not with Marilyn) and the supporting cast (George Raft as Colomo and Joe E. Brown? Sign me up!) is to die for. Alas, I found none of it the least bit fun, endearing or even charming (the final line actually pissed me off since I was hoping the entire movie would lead up to it being funny, but nope). I've seen episodes of "Bosom Buddies" that are funnier than "Some Like It Hot," and "Bosom Buddies" is a piece of shit. We all have blind spots in our cinephile brains for what others consider classics, and I guess this one is mine.

  5. The Apartment

    Lemmon is terrific as a sad-sack office drone who allows his apartment to be used as a love nest for his philandering bosses. The Odd Couple is one of my all-time favorite movies, and it's easy to see Lemmon's characterization of Felix Unger already beginning to take shape here. Shirley MacLaine is the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and it may not be possible to watch this movie and not develop a little crush on her. Smart, funny, and even a bit melancholy, it's easy to see how the film gained the reputation it has.

  6. Hamlet (1996)

    Kenneth Branagh was allowed to direct and star in this UNABRIDGED version of Shakespeare's classic on the condition that he put in a number of celebrity cameos.

    Jack Lemmon is the first cameo that the audience sees (as Marcellus, the palace guard) and one of the weaker ones as his American-everyman quality is completely inappropriate to spout The King's English.

    The film though, is quite successful, though the language can be tough to comprehend at times. But hey, do you want it modern or you want it right?