Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Film | The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Every time I watch a movie like the one I did tonight, 1962's The Notorious Landlady, and I enjoy it so much... I always ask myself, "What if I never discovered this picture?" I say that because I loved this picture so much! From start to finish, it had me hooked. How could you go wrong with a comedy/mystery starring Jack Lemmon, Fred Astaire, and Kim Novak?


"Did she...or did she?"

Kim Novak as Carlyle 'Carly' Hardwicke
Jack Lemmon as William 'Bill' Gridley
Fred Astaire as Franklyn Ambruster
Lionel Jeffries as Inspector Oliphant

After moving to London, American diplomat William (Jack Lemmon) begins an exhilarating romance with his sexy landlady, Carlye (Kim Novak). When he learns the police suspects Carlye of killing her husband, William finds himself caught in the middle of a murder investigation. [Netflix]

This film, directed by Richard Quine, pays homage to works of Hitchcock, while mixing in witty comedy that was delivered wonderfully by the whole cast (which by the way includes Fred Astaire). The story is based on a short story titled "The Notorious Tenant" by Margary Sharp that originally appeared in the February 3rd, 1956 issue Collier's magazine. The script was co-written by Blake Edwards and Larry Gelbart ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and TV's "M*A*S*H").

This was Novak's third pairing with Jack Lemmon. The two had previously starred in Pffft (1954) and Bell Book and Candle (1958) together. While I would have understood because the film is based in England, I was very happy Kim's English accent was only temporary. If she would have spoke that way the entire movie, it would have been most distracting. When the titles rolled before that start of the film, I was surprised to see that all Kim Novak's gowns were designed by her. Her wardrobe in this film was simple, yet elegant. I must say that Kim did a wonderful job putting together her costumes. I must say, while it was a great performance, it seems Kim Novak had only one way of acting. All of her films I have seen so far, she seems to have the same style of acting. I will hold that judgement until I can catch a few more of her flicks.

It was quite different for me to see Fred Astaire starring in a film that was not a musical. This was a first for me, and I thought he did a wonderful job. Although, there are a couple of scenes where they show Astaire walking down a hallway that reminded me of his musical number "Bonjour Paris" from the 1957's Funny Face. He walked with such rhythm and elegance, I was expecting an impromptu dance routine. Fred actually did record a song written by Sammy Fain and Mack David for the film, but it wasn't included in the final version of the film. That sure would have been an added treat. You would never know that Astaire was in his early 60's when this film was made, he was just as charming and fun to watch as when he was younger.

As for Jack Lemmon, he was his typical funny self. I've only seen a few of Lemmon's films, but I consider him one of those actors that can do no wrong. Every film I have seen with him has been great (especially 1959's Some Like It Hot). His way of delivering a comedic performance is so simple, yet can make you bust out laughing. His body language and facial expressions are the best. In this film I couldn't stop laughing at the climatic yet hilarious ending where his character must chase a wheelchair down a hill before it goes over the cliff. He was definitely one of the best when it came to physical comedy.

This picture is now going to be added to my lengthy list of favorite films. It is for sure going to be on the list of movies to see again.



  1. I have this movie in my DVD collection. I also.. enjoyed this mystery/comedy with all the surprising plot twists and very young Jack Lemmon and one of my favorite actress Kim Novack. I also enjoyed seeing, Fred Astaire and Lionel Jefferies.

    I really enjoyed reading your review and I hope you do not mind if I spotlight it on Noir and Chick Flicks this weekend in my.. "This Week" post.

  2. I am glad you liked my review, that would be great to see a Blame Mame post highlighted. Thanks!

  3. Craig, just ran across your review of this film. It's a very entertaining little movie that deserves more respect and attention, rather like another Kim Novak movie, "Bell, Book, and Candle." Glad to see you're giving it some. I've seen it about three times and it never fails to amuse. Lemmon and Novak had great chemistry, and Novak shows again that she was a better actress than she was given credit for. Her forte was light romantic-comic roles like this one. I agree Astaire was also delightful. For another great non-musical Astaire performance check out "The Pleasure of His Company," made around the same time as this movie.