For Reel

The Notorious Landlady (1962)
May 23, 2014, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Richard Quine
3 Stars
The Notorious LandladyFour years after starring in Vertigo, Kim Novak would play yet another mysterious blonde who becomes the object of a man’s obsession in The Notorious Landlady. This time the romantic is Jack Lemmon, who becomes so deeply entranced by his detached lover that he has time to question whether or not he can cope with the idea that she is a potential murderer. Although it begins to drag somewhere around the midpoint, the film is not without its charms in the early-goings. Arthur E. Arling’s ever-moving camera keeps the visuals lively, and Lemmon can play an over-eager sap as well as anyone else. Director Richard Quine seems very amused by the screenplay’s potential to transition from one genre to the next, with the story first unfolding as a romantic comedy before developing into a psychological thriller and even a courtroom drama. Finally, with the daring climax, Quine lampoons everything that has come before–he pays homage to the silent comedy greats by allowing an increasingly slapstick chase sequence unfold to music from The Pirates of Penzance. As the silliness escalates and Lemmon’s character struggles to summarize everything that happened in the last twenty minutes, the picture becomes fairly radical in the way that it both skewers and meets the audience’s expectations of a final act. The whole sequence seems tonally irreconcilable with everything that preceded it, and yet the theatrical melodramatics are somehow fitting.

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