Because an all too serious mind needs silly time! While I considered my test result, I skipped the quiz questions and bounced the basic idea off my roommate. She thoughtfully selected State of the Union to represent herself, a Frank Capra film about the personal compromises of a presidential campaign starring Hepburn and Tracy. She did well; the story is serious and heartfelt while the people in it are funny and, ultimately, act with the courage of their convictions.
Your result for Which Black and White Film are You?…
50 Innocent, 21 Schmaltzy, 45 Exciting and 23 Romantic!
Congratulations. You’ve scored Gilda!
Sure, it’s a love story, but a love story between the two coldest hearts on the planet. Okay, maybe just in Argentina.
You’re not much of a romantic, and typically you’re more interested in the plot of a story than it’s characters. You like a well-paced story with some good villains. Camp doesn’t really appeal to you; when it comes to old films, you only watch those that have aged well.
As much as I love film noir and the comparison to Rita Hayworth… I could talk you blue in the face about this woman’s appeal! Margarita Carmen Cansino from Brooklyn, nicknamed The Love Godess by Hollywood, married Orson Welles and then Aly Khan (making her the first movie star to become a princess, not Grace Kelly), and some even say the Margarita was named after her…
Realistically, any movie representing me would have to be a screwball comedy. I seem to get into situations, good and bad, that just don’t happen to anyone else I know. And the way I negotiate this obstacle course of a life is, in a word, singular. To tell you the truth, I think I’ve got to be a Judy Holliday picture.
Holliday grabbed the world’s attention in another Tracy/Hepburn film; written by the amazing Ruth Gordon (and her husband Garson Kanin) and directed by George Cukor, Adam’s Rib is my favorite of their collaborations. She played the enraged wife of a cheating, abusive husband and she’s on trial for attempting his murder…that is, busting in on his love nest, pistol in hand, to find him in flagrante dilecto…and, well, shooting in his general direction. Both husband and wife are written as types, the bully and the dumb blonde a little past her prime, leaving the stage clear for Tracy and Hepburn who play their respective lawyers…and are married to each other. Holliday may not have stolen the show, hard to do with such heavy hitters in play, but she was instantly recognized as a comedic gold mine!
Surprisingly Rita Hayworth was slated to play the lead in Born Yesterday, the role that made Judy’s career and earned her an Oscar. It’s a great picture, but it’s not me. I’d have to say I’m another George Cukor film, It Should Happen to You, this time co-starring Jack Lemmon. Holliday plays Gladys Glover, a young model who came to New York to make it big and after a few years finds herself unemployed, unaccompanied, and distinctly unaccomplished. With her last bit of savings she rents out the biggest billboard she can see from her apartment, smack in the middle of Columbus Circle, and displays just her name.
Then Jack Lemmon moves into the apartment down the hall. She’d met him a while earlier in Central Park, the day she lost her job. And I feel compelled to interject here that New York City itself is the third star in this film and material to the story in nearly every scene. Lemmon’s character is a documentary filmmaker, masterfully observant of and clearly in love with life, the city, and the ebullience of its inhabitants. He observes and quickly falls for Gladys, who has already fallen for the idea of herself as an important part of New York. She’s so pleasantly distracted by her sign, she doesn’t put it together that Lemmon didn’t move in next door by accident.
Of course, because it’s Judy, one unlikely circumstance leads to another even more preposterous; the major corporation that usually booked the Columbus Circle billboard didn’t mean to let it go and tries to hustle Gladys to get it back, she won’t take money but settles on a trade for ten other signs, all of New York begins to wonder who this glamorous Gladys Glover is and thus she becomes the IT girl of 1954.
And what ever happens to Jack Lemmon? The man who loved her just as she was. He waits. First he waits for the lease to be up in Columbus Circle, then the ten signs that follow, then the whirlwind sales campaign Gladys’ sleazy agent sets up for her. Finally Gladys chooses her “career” over their first dinner with his parents and he’s done waiting.
Gladys might look to have been more easily sidetracked than I have, but we both had to learn the long story, truth is stranger than fiction, never a dull moment, hard way that being accomplished (elastic a word as it is in this context) is not tantamount to being happy and it doesn’t make you any more lovable, not to the people who count. Call her a dumb blonde, but she figures this out just in the nick of time.
Remarkably, Judy Holliday had an IQ of 172. She used to say, “You have to be smart to play a dumb blonde over and over and keep the audience’s attention without extraordinary physical equipment.” She was born and raised in New York City after her mother went into labor while attending a play. Rejected by the Yale School of Drama, she got her first job as a switchboard operator at Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater. Holliday originated several of her starring film roles on Broadway and worked extensively in the theater, especially after being brought before HUAC to explain her political affiliations. As a result her film repertoire is limited, but golden. She made her last movie, Vincent Minnelli’s musical Bells are Ringing, with Dean Martin in 1960. I didn’t even mention her singing career, did I? Judy died in New York, after a five year battle against breast cancer, just shy of her 44th birthday.