Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Phffft (1954)

Today, we’ve got a Jack Lemmon double-feature, and we’re starting off with his 1954 comedy Phffft, also starring Judy Holliday, Jack Carson and Kim Novak. Of course, we have to start things off with a theatrical short, then we’ll get to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Blueprint (1966)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)

The Pink Panther competes with the Little Man on a construction site. It’s nice to see the Little Man again, and it’s that chemistry that makes this one really fun! Admittedly, in some ways it does seem to be essentially the same story as the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink, with them both arguing about how the building is supposed to look. Still, the humor works quite well, and I enjoy watching this one with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After much thought, television serial writer Nina Tracy (Judy Holliday) decides she wants to divorce her lawyer husband Robert Tracy (Jack Lemmon). However, instead of the shocked reaction she expected, he announces that he had been feeling the same way. So, off she goes to Reno, Nevada, and the divorce is granted. Robert moves in with his playboy (and playwright) friend Charlie Nelson (Jack Carson), while Nina spends some time with her mother, Edith Chapman (Luella Gear). Robert and Nina both still have feelings for each other, but everybody else in their lives are trying to encourage them to move on. Nina tries to go out with one of the stars of her show, Rick Vidal (Donald Curtis), but he only wants to become the main character of the show. Robert tries going out with Charlie’s friend, Janis (Kim Novak), but it doesn’t work out well for him, either. Robert and Nina try to come back together, but they end up fighting again. Will these two be able to get along again as a couple, or will they be able to get over each other?

Columbia Pictures came to playwright George Axelrod, hoping to produce a movie based on his hit play The Seven Year Itch. However, the film rights for that play were unavailable, as it had already been acquired by somebody else (however, they were contractually unable to film it until the play’s run was over). So, George Axelrod instead offered Columbia a very similar play he had written earlier, Phffft. For his screenplay, George Axelrod was rewarded with a nomination for Best Written American Comedy at the Writers Guild. Although he lost (to Roman Holiday), his career was on the upswing, as he would write a few other big screenplays over the next few years (including the aforementioned The Seven Year Itch).

For their part, Columbia Pictures decided to use the movie to pair up Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon again after the success of their previous film together, It Should Happen To You. Now, I’ve not seen that earlier film (yet), but I will say that I did like this one! They make a fun couple, with their various quirks that at first (well, when we meet them in this movie) seem to drive each other apart, but then start to bring them back together again. Of course, we see them attempt other relationships, with the movie using (in what seems to be some of its more dated humor) almost uncomfortable situations, especially for Judy Holliday’s Nina, who keeps getting herself into trouble with men *almost* trying to sleep with her. There are some fun moments, especially with their attempts to change things up, and they do have a fun dance together partway through. I like the chemistry here, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t always quite support it as well as it should. Still, I had fun watching the movie, and I would certainly recommend giving it a shot!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Phffft (1954)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The transfer for the Blu-ray has been cleaned up of most dirt and debris. The detail looks quite good, for the most part, and I would certainly say that this release is the best way to see this movie.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts (1955)

My Dream Is Yours (1949) – Jack Carson

Kim Novak – Pal Joey (1957)

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