Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jack Lemmon Birthday Bash 01.17.99

Our Birthday Bashes put a nice spin on the whole gift-giving ritual. You walk in empty handed and leave with some of the greatest films on earth because, at our party, it's the honoree who's giving out the presents.

Jack Lemmon’s career spans over fifty years and includes stints on Broadway, radio and television. Of course, it’s on the big screen that Lemmon made his biggest splash. An actor equally adept at dramatic roles and comedy, Lemmon has appeared in films that are the best of both genres. And through the years, he has wracked up countless awards; truthfully, an award or nomination for almost every major film he was in between 1955 and 1999.

The only way to properly celebrate Lemmon is to view his entire body of work. We cannot overlook his dramatic performances, but for purposes of our Birthday Bash, we must focus on the comedies. And frankly, films about alcoholism and nuclear power plant mishaps are not exactly champagne-popping good times. But, for your own sake, check out Lemmon’s award-winning performances in Days of Wine and Roses, Save The Tiger, The China Syndrome, Dad, Glengarry Glen Ross and Short Cuts. Today, we give you Lemmon’s gifts, comedy-wise.

Mister Roberts (1955)
“Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I want you to know that I just threw your stinkin' palm tree overboard. Now what's all this crud about no movie tonight?”

Lemmon’s turn as the wheeling-dealing Ensign Frank Pulver won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in this hilarious World War II satire which, in addition to relative newcomer Lemmon, boasts an all-star cast including James Cagney, William Powell, Ken Curtis and Henry Fonda as Mister Roberts.

The Billy Wilder Triumvirate

Lemmon became one of the hottest comedic talents in town when he teamed up with director Billy Wilder for a trio of pictures that, arguably, represent the greatest comedy films in history.

Some Like It Hot (1959)
“You don't understand, Osgood! Aaah... I'm a man!”

Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a swinging, sexy romantic comedy about cross-dressing and the Mob. This is as good as it gets. Lemmon received a Best Actor Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for his role.

The Apartment (1960)
“That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise.”

Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray star in this dramedy about Bud Baxter, a mild-mannered middle-manager who starts to climb the company ladder when he unwittingly begins loaning his swinging pad to upper management so they can entertain their romantic trysts. Lemmon, again, scored a Best Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win.

Irma la Douce (1963)

Lemmon and MacLaine reteam, this time as inadvertent pimp and prostitute. Nestor Patou, a French cop, busts up a brothel, only to find himself jobless when the station superior happens to be a client. Patou befriends Irma, a hooker and, after beating up her pimp, finds himself wearing that hat himself. Lemmon was bypassed for award consideration, but MacLaine nailed a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe this time.

The Neil Simon Troika

The Odd Couple (1968)
“I'm a neurotic nut, but you're crazy!”

Matthau. Lemmon. Grumpy Old Men even when they were young. Lemmon plays the obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive neat freak, Felix Unger. The role netted him another Best Motion Picture Actor nomination with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards.

The Out-of-Towners (1970)
“Well, we can think. As long as we've got our brains, we can think.”

George Kellerman (Lemmon) is flown to New York with his wife to interview with the chief cheeses of the company he works for. His carefully-planned working vacation quickly spins into a journey into Hell in this hilarious comedy-of-errors. Lemmon earned another Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actor nomination.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1974)
“I haven't had a real piece of bread in thirty years. If I'd known, I would have saved some rolls when I was a kid.”

Lemmon is Mel, the Prisoner in this surprisingly downbeat comedy. Mel has lost his job at an advertising agency and attempts to cope with being unemployed and, gulp, being dependent on his wife’s paltry income. Not really a yuck-fest, but funny nonetheless.

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