Comedy Snippets: Bells Are Ringing, It Should Happen To You + +

comedy snippets 04072021Short reviews of comedy old and new, and other bits of info which don’t fit anywhere else on the site, updated weekly.

Bells Are Ringing
Vincent Minelli musical where Ella (Judy Holliday) works for “Susanswerphone” in the fifties, where if someone’s out the call is redirected and she takes messages, and also offers up any information they might need, does a bit of matchmaking and even pretends to be Santa Claus to scare one kid in to eating his vegetables. The opening’s extremely fun as we watch her at work juggling a number of calls, and then Ella falls for one of her customers who thinks she’s an elderly lady (it’s a longish story) and who is a struggling playwright whose writing partner left him and he’s not sure he’s got what it takes to write any more. Throw in a gambling syndicate run by Susanswerphone’s owner’s boyfriend operating out of their office (well, the living room the company is run from at least) pretending to be a record company (using a complicated system that gets its own song and is rather fun) and the police sniffing around thinking Susanswerphone is some dodgy sex thing, and a mixture of light-hearted comedy drama ensues. Dean Martin’s fun as the romantic interest but this is really Holliday’s movie and she’s superb in what was sadly her last role as she sadly succumbed to cancer a few years later, and her character interfering in her customers lives is often hilarious, as is her mucking about with an actor and a dentist, while a Hollywood party includes a great song of the phony nature of name droppers and there’s a fun one about her trying to work out who she is towards the end too, all of which makes this is a definite Hollywood classic. ★★★★1/2

It Should Happen To You
Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday) moved to New York hoping to make it as a star but then struggles, yet after a chat with documentary maker Pete (Jack Lemon in his first lead role, and who gets an “and introducing” credit amusingly) and a chance sighting of a sign that’s for hire everything changes, especially when after she has her name put up on it a company that normally uses that board tries to buy her out. Pete is oddly enraged by Gladys’s fame obsession but it starts paying off quickly when people presume she’s famous, though it’s a mixed bag and this functions as a perils of fame kind of piece as well as a rom-com, mainly as the men in the industry are shit. Holliday’s a delight, Lemmon’s great too, the sleazy men are good at being creepy, and the whole thing is extremely charming. ★★★★

Born Yesterday
Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) is a loutish businessman, engaged to Billie (Judy Holliday) and being interviewed by Paul Verrall (William Holden), who then hires Paul to make Billie a little more intelligent and classy, so yeah just like that Eliza Doolittle broad who could talk to the animals (I know, but I couldn’t resist). The problem is that the smarter Billie gets the more she realises that Harry is a dodgy old twot, and when she argues with him he turns violent in deeply unpleasant scenes. At least Paul is on hand to help save the day, though Billie more than holds her own, and it’s Judy Holliday’s fantastic central performance that makes this such a joy. ★★★★

The Solid Gold Cadillac
Judy Holliday comedy where she owns a small amount of shares in a company and causes havoc during stockholders meetings, so they give her a job in the hope she’ll be too busy to annoy them. It’s not a vicious satire by any means but it gently tackles the institutionalised sexism and fraudulent behaviour of the boys club in companies like this, Holliday is once again amazing and delivers many a funny line with her trademark bluntness, and though the relationship between the 35 year old Holliday and 173 year old Paul Douglas (well, okay, he was 49, but looks a fuck load older) might raise eyebrows it’s still a very charming effort. ★★★1/2

Video Of The Week
Sadly there’s not many clips of Judy Holliday online outside of her movies, but this amusing piece of audio sees a selection of very famous names phone her to congratulate her on winning an Oscar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ6ZsRwlMTg

Link Of The Week
If you want to know more about Holliday’s life and career there’s a great article here: http://thefilmexperience.net/blog/2021/6/21/judy-holliday-100-the-oscar-winners-fascinating-career.html

Alex Finch.
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