Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Jack's Tribute, Lee drops in

TRIBUTE, 1980. What to make of Jack Lemmon’s long and varied career? He did a lot of stage work too, including playing TRIBUTE over 200 times before the 1980 film, so the role must have appealed to him.  

A shallow Broadway press agent learns he is dying just as his son by his ex-wife arrives for a visit.
His character here, Scottie Templeton, is the kind of showbiz veteran to drive one screaming from the room, as Scottie has to be ‘on’ all the time, even when being told he has a terminal illness.
 Lemmon though whether dropping his pants or dressed in a chicken suit, is so annoying and unfunny. His ex-wife is Lee Remick who drops in for a few scenes, like visiting royalty, and is so wonderful and charistmatic as usual here (she said she took the small role to work again with Jack after their 1962 hit DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES – and they do have great rapport;  ironically, it was Lee who got the fatal illness, and died aged 55 in 1991, a decade before Jack in 2001). 

Second billed is Robbie Benson, who on this showing is a charisma-free zone, as the son who feels neglected and its all about Scottie trying to re-connect with his son. This is all glutinously sentimental, then there is Colleen Dewhurst as the doctor, and John Marley as Scottie’s old friend – and that scene at Joe Allen’s of which the less said the better. 
There is also a montage of Scottie back in hospital enduring his treatment which feels like the end, but no – there is more, as he gets that tribute from his peers and friends which goes on and on, as Scottie, wearing that silly hat, wears out his welcome. Kim Cattrall is also there, looking different from her later SEX AND THE CITY persona …. I loved Scottie’s palatial New York townhouse, but as an IMDB reviewer put it:  its a 'tribute' to phony emotions, bad acting, and a rotten script. Directed by Bob Clark. Lee did much better also in 1980 with that other small role in THE COMPETITION (as per review, Remick label.).

Ok, I only saw this for Lee Remick. Getting back to Jack, I liked his early ‘50s movies  (COWBOY, MY SISTER EILEEN, BELL BOOK & CANDLE) and his films with all those blondes (Marilyn, Doris, Kim, Janet, Judy) and I never tire of him in SOME LIKE IT HOT - the performance of the year - or THE APARTMENT
Jack & Romy
but after DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES not so much, though GOOD NEIGHBOUR SAM with Romy, THE ODD COUPLE with Mattheau, and THE OUT OF TOWNERS with Sandy Dennis were tolerably amusing, but wild horses couldn’t drag me to IRMA LA DOUCE, UNDER THE YUM YUM TREE or SAVE THE TIGER, and for every MISSING or CHINA SYNDROME or GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS there’s a glutinously schmaltzy  TRIBUTE or THAT’S LIFE or those GRUMPY OLD MEN …. Ugh ! while Billy’s 1972 AVANTI! is still polarizing – some love it, others hate it (as do I). Bizarre too seeing him turn up as Marcellus in the Branagh HAMLET ! How did he fit in those stage roles as well (like the demanding LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT)… despite some of those grating later roles we have a lot of affection for Jack's earlier work (and we will always have SOME LIKE IT HOT in our Top Ten) and he did become a beloved American institution like James Stewart or Henry Fonda.  Below: They are not long the DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES.

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