Sunday, 14 March 2010


“A person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.” - Shirley Maclaine

We watched a trivial but bubbly, old comedy film at the weekend. It was Richard Quine’s 1962 film, “The Notorious Landlady” with Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak, Fred Astaire and Lionel Jeffries. It was a stock, low-budget, black-and-white comedy based on the novel by Margery Sharp. However, it was entertaining in a low-key way and a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours. Once again one is respectful of these old films that managed to entertain and amuse with an engaging script, no trace of expletive, no violence and no special effects. It was intelligent film-making, and while no blockbuster and very light, it was a successful, engaging movie. Don’t expect high philosophy or extreme cutting wit, this is an amusing and frothy piece.

The action was set in London’s Mayfair and revolved around a landlady (Kim Novak) and her tenant (Jack Lemmon). The landlady is notorious as she is suspected of having killed her husband, however, as there is no body to be found, she is under police observation and cannot leave the country. Enter the guileless Jack Lemmon who is a junior diplomat with the US Embassy in London and who rents an apartment in Kim Novak’s house, not knowing of her reputation and suspicious activities. Fred Astaire plays a diplomat who is rather bumbling and incompetent, but still manages to be Jack Lemmon’s boss (incidentally, Fred’s role is not a dancing one, although Kim and Jack do dance a mambo together). The film is rather farcical in its plot development and keeps one amused and smiling although not guffawing.

The actors do an excellent job, especially Jack Lemmon who plays the rather naïve and innocent American in London who falls heads over heels in love with the charming Ms Novak. She plays well, as does Fred Astaire. However it is the British actors who play supporting roles that do a marvellous job. Lionel Jeffries as the stoic Scotland Yard inspector, Estelle Winwood as the eccentric neighbour, Philippa Bevans as the deceiving carer and Maxwell Reed as the hapless husband.

Do watch this film if you come across it, but don’t go searching for it especially. It is an amusing flibbertigibbet that will while away a couple of hours and give you a few chuckles.

Other blogs about Movies this Movie Monday:
Bekkieslife with the "The Ghost Writer"
Sidetrackedcharley with "Alice in Wonderland"

1 comment:

  1. I think I'll like this film. I'll be on the lookout for it.
    Thanks Nic!!!