This Massachusetts-born actor made his film debut in It Should Happen To You, alongside Judy Holliday, and went on to act in more than 60 films. This happened after a stint as a TV actor, but once the Hollywood Film-Bug bit, it took such a firm hold that he managed to cultivate a career that spanned decades. Jack’s eight Academy Award nominations are testament to his skill, receiving a comedy nod for his role in the 1959 film, Some Like It Hot. If this is Jack Lemmon Month #1, this film really deserves a mention.
Some Like It Hot!
This jazz-era comedy tells the tale of two crossdressing stowaways who head for Florida, fleeing the gangland that is Chicago at the time. Jack plays Daphne, a bass fiddle player who wins the heart of a bona fine momma’s boy billionaire. The film stars Tony Curtis, who makes up the second in the crossdressing duo, and both actors are exceptional in their roles.
The film’s director, Billy Wilder, was known for his freewheeling take on cinema, and it was rumored at the time that he had Frank Sinatra pegged for the role of Daphne. It becomes clear, though, as you watch the film, that no mistake was made, and in fact, the engagement scene’ had to be re-shot because it was discovered that test audiences laughed so long that the dialogue became inaudible. Deserving of an Oscar nomination? I think so! It was actually one of eight such nominations, no one less deserved than any of the others. If you think that this was just a nominated actor though, think again. Years before this particular nod for this hit, Jack Lemmon did win an Oscar, and this film is discussed next!
This film was set in the Second World War, and saw a 30-year old Jack portray a lecherous and lazy Ensign Pulver. It follows would-be heroes who find themselves marooned on the USS Reluctant, a cargo ship!Two great directors, Mervyn LeRoy and John Ford handled this project in tandem, and they worked with acting greats like William Powell, James Cagney and the legendary Henry Fonda.
Jack Lemmon proved his salt against these Hollywood icons, scooping the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in this 1955 classic. Interestingly, Henry Fonda was not the studios first choice for the title role of this film, names like Marlon Brando and William Holden doing the rounds. Jack Lemmon was a clear choice for his role though, and with just four films under his belt at the time of shooting, he was already showing his mettle, proving that he was not lost to the stars of Hollywood. Jack Lemmon Month #1 might not be a thing. Hell, it might be. One thing is certain though, if this veteran of cinema decided to follow in his father’s corporate footsteps-his father was the president of a doughnut company-not only would we have lost a comedy genius, but we would have also lost an actor who’s ability to bring great characters to magnificent life has not been matched in almost 20 years.