Category Archives: Jack Lemmon

Blu-Ray News #323: Peter Falk Comedy Collection (1967-1987).

Mill Creek has scooped up four Peter Falk movies, all done for Columbia, and made a Blu-Ray set out of ’em. Since I love Peter Falk, I see this as a really good thing, even if the movies aren’t his best.

LUV (1967)
Directed by Clive Donner
Starring Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, Elaine May, Nina Wayne, Harrison Ford

The 60s brought a lot of change to Hollywood, thanks to films like, say, Bonnie And Clyde (1967). It also brought about a lot of weird things like LUV (1967). It’s got Falk and Jack Lemmon in it, and that’s enough.

The Cheap Detective (1978)
Directed by Robert Moore
Written by Neil Simon
Starring Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn, Louise Fletcher, Ann-Margret

Funny stuff, though I preferred Murder By Death (1976), which clearly inspired this one. While Murder By Death spoofed Agatha Christie mysteries, this one pokes fun at Bogart pictures. Bet Neil Simon had a blast writing these things. Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn — can you really go wrong?

Big Trouble
Directed by John Cassavetes
Starring Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, Beverly D’Angelo, Charles Durning, Robert Stack, Richard Libertini

The In-Laws (1979) was wonderful, and a big hit, so Falk and Alan Arkin (and Beverly D’Angelo and Richard Libertini and writer Andrew Bergman) were reunited for this one. Falk’s friend John Cassavetes was brought in to direct — it was his last film. The results are mixed, for sure, but I’m really looking forward to seeing it again. And since I saw it on VHS in the early 90s, I can count on it looking 47,000% better this time around!

Happy New Year (1987)
Starring Peter Falk, Charles Durning, Tom Courtenay

A caper comedy with Falk and Charles Durning, and Falk dresses up in all sorts of disguises. I’ve never seen it, but it sure sounds promising.

Thanks to Mill Creek for putting these kinds of movies out on Blu-Ray. It’s sure appreciated, so keep ’em coming!


Filed under 1967, 1978, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, John Cassavetes, Madeline Kahn, Mill Creek, Peter Falk

The Carbon Arc Podcast Episode 3: The Great Race (1965) With Guest Todd Liebenow.

Here’s the third episode of my podcast The Carbon Arc. This time, the subject is Blake Edwards’ The Great Race (1965) — and my guest is Mr. Todd Liebenow of The Forgotten Filmcast. The Great Race is a movie Todd and I adore. (It’s this blog’s namesake if you haven’t figured that out already.

Click on the thing up top to check it out on YouTube or go to —

And be sure to check out Todd’s wonderful podcast (which I’ll be a guest on soon) —

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Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, Jack Lemmon, The Carbon Arc Podcast, Tony Curtis, Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray News #323: Mister Roberts (1955).

Directed by John Ford & Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon, Betsy Palmer, Ward Bond, Philip Carey, Nick Adams, Perry Lopez, Ken Curtis

By all accounts, Mister Roberts (1955) was a troubled production, with a feud between star Fonda and director Ford (and a illness/bender taking taking Ford off the picture). Some say Ford’s attempt to turn the play into a John Ford movie was a hindrance, but as most folks see it, the end result is just wonderful. It was a huge hit back in ’55 and is beloved today.

Warner Archive is bringing Mister Roberts to Blu-Ray, and early CinemaScope films are a real treat in high-definition. And given how splendid recent Warner Archive Blu-Rays have looked, this should be a huge upgrade. The old DVD’s commentary from Jack Lemmon (who won an Oscar for playing Ensign Pulver) is being kept, which is good news.

This one’s coming December 15, and I highly recommend it.

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Filed under 1955, DVD/Blu-ray News, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, John Ford, Martin Milner, Nick Adams, Warner Archive, Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray News #150: Irma La Duce (1963).

Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi

Kino Lorber has announced a Blu-Ray of Billy Wilder’s Irma La Duce (1963), from a recent 4K restoration. While I love Wilder and Jack Lemmon, and this is certainly a funny movie, I have to admit that I wanted to post something on it so I could mention the great Saul Bass, who did the poster.

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Filed under 1963, Billy Wilder, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Kino Lorber, Saul Bass, United Artists

Blu-ray News #57: Airport, The Complete Collection (1970-1979).


Universal has always been big on “franchises,” from the Universal Monsters and Ma And Pa Kettle to Back To The Future and Tremors.

Certainly one of their biggest would have to be the Airport pictures. And while they’re a cases study in the Law Of Diminishing Returns, there’s still something about them, something we can all own on Blu-ray in June.

Airport (1970)
Directed by George Seaton
Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson

Van Heflin (in his last movie) blows a hole in Dean Martin’s plane. Shot in 70mm Todd-AO by Ernest Laszlo, it was a massive success — and kick-started the disaster movie craze of the 70s. Note the Easter ad for Radio City Music Hall.

Airport ’75 (1974)
Directed by Jack Smight
Starring Charlton Heston, Karen Black, George Kennedy, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Helen Reddy, Gloria Swanson, Linda Blair

A small plane runs into the cockpit of a 747, leaving no one to fly the plane. It seems to be the movie most parodied in Airplane! (1980).


Airport ’77 (1977)
Directed by Jarry Jameson
Starring Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, James Stewart, George Kennedy, Brenda Vaccaro, Christopher Lee, Joseph Cotton

A hijacked 747 crashes and sinks in the Bermuda Triangle.

The Concorde: Airport ’79 (1979)
Directed by David Lowell Rich
Starring Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, Sylvia Kristal, George Kennedy, Eddie Albert, Charo, John Davidson

Where the previous pictures had the likes of Helen Hayes, James Stewart, Gloria Swanson and Joseph Cotton in supporting roles, here we have Charo and Sybil Danning. It plays like a TV movie, and a bad one at that.

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Filed under 1970, 1974, 1977, 1979, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Dean Martin, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Universal (-International)

Screening: Mr. Roberts (1955) And No Time For Sergeants (1958).


Durham’s Carolina Theatre is bringing two fine, funny films to town on Friday, July 17: Mister Roberts (1955) and No Time For Sergeants (1958).

Mister Roberts
Directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon

Henry Fonda had already been a smash on Broadway in Mister Roberts by the time he and director John Ford started the movie. They didn’t see eye to eye on how to the approach the material, and Ford left the project midstream (I’m skipping over the tales of drunkenness and fisticuffs). Mervyn LeRoy was brought in to finish the picture. It’s hard to say who did what, but the result is wonderful. You can’t beat that cast: Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon, Ward Bond and so on.

Prod DB © Warner Bros. / DR 2 FARFELUS AU REGIMENT (NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS) de Mervyn LeRoy 1958 USA avec James Millhollin, Andy Griffith et Don Knotts sur le tournage militaire, officier, uniforme, paysan, fermier, galons d'apres le roman de Mac Hyman

No Time For Sergeants
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Andy Griffith, Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton, Don Knotts, Dub Taylor

No Time For Sergeants follows Georgia boy Will Stockdale (Andy Griffith) as he’s drafted into the Air Force. It’s hilarious — and it went a long way toward making Griffith a star. He’s joined by Don Knotts, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton and Dub Taylor. This time, Mervyn LeRoy directed the whole thing. Good God, this is a funny movie.


Filed under 1955, 1958, Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jack Lemmon, John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Screenings

Blu-ray Review: The Great Race (1965).


Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Martin Jurow
Screenplay by Arthur A. Ross
Original Story by Blake Edwards, Arthur Ross
Production Design: Fernando Carrere
Director Of Photography: Russell Harlan. ASC
Costumes Designed by Don Feld
Miss Wood’s Clothes by Edith Head
Film Editor: Ralph E. Winters
Music by Henry Mancini

Cast: Jack Lemmon (Prof. Fate), Tony Curtis (The Great Leslie), Natalie Wood (Maggie DuBois), Peter Falk (Max), Keenan Wynn (Hezekiah Sturdy), Arthur O’Connell (Henry Goodbody), Dorothy Provine (Lily Olay), Larry Storch (Texas Jack), Ross Martin (Baron Rolfe von Stuppe), George Macready (General Kuhster), Denver Pyle (Sheriff).

Blake Edwards’ The Great Race is the kind of movie Blu-ray seems made for: a great big Panavision roadshow piece of Technicolor eye candy. And from its overture to the final fade, the new disc from Warner Archive is a thing of real beauty.

Part homage to silent films (dedicated to “Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy”), part live-action cartoon, with The Great Race, Blake Edwards tried to pull off the near-impossible task of making an epic comedy. It’s up to the viewer to decide if he succeeded or not.


The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon)—inspired casting of the male leads of Some Like It Hot (1959)—are daredevils in the early 1900s. Leslie is the dressed-in-white hero who always comes through unscathed; Fate’s a combination of your typical black-clad silent movie villain and Wile E. Coyote, whose plans always blow up in his face, sometimes literally, with a “Ta-Da!” from Henry Mancini. Fate is accompanied by his ever-loyal and equally-inept assistant Max Meen (Peter Falk), while Leslie has Keenan Wynn in his corner. Establishing these characters and their rivalry makes for a hilarious first reel (which the rest of the movie has to work hard to live up to).

An around-the-world automobile race is announced (Leslie’s brainchild), setting the “course” for the rest of the film—with Natalie Wood on hand as Maggie DuBois, a reporter covering the race. After a number of setpieces involving everything from a saloon brawl to a stowaway polar bear, it settles down to a retread of The Prisoner Of Zenda that treats us to two Jack Lemmons and keeps Miss Wood in her underwear for the last 45 minutes or so. And just for good measure, it all climaxes with a truly epic pie fight.

Great Race BTS 1 sized

Making The Great Race turned out to be a bumpy road. Edwards clashed with Jack Warner, and he was actually removed from the picture. The cast united to have him brought back. Costs piled up. And the pies went rancid from one day’s shooting to the next—the set would have to be hosed down and redressed with fresh pies. The whole thing ended up 24 days over schedule.

Great race BE and NW

What’s more, Natalie Wood wasn’t too thrilled about the whole thing. She owed Warner Bros. another film, and she went into The Great Race grudgingly to take care of that obligation. The part had already been offered to Jane Fonda, who decided to do Cat Ballou instead, and Lee Remick, who’d done Days Of Wine And Roses (1962) with Edwards and Jack Lemmon.

Great race NW pie

Wood and Edwards didn’t get along. She demanded that Edith Head do her costumes. And while shooting the pie fight, Edwards himself threw the pies meant for Natalie. Turns out comedy is no laughing matter.

Critics didn’t find a whole lot of greatness in The Great Race. When you advertise a movie with the tagline “The greatest comedy of all time,” you’re probably asking for it. And in the end, it wasn’t the runaway hit everyone was hoping for—especially since it cost a then-mammoth $12 million. But time has been kind to Edwards’ salute to slapstick, and it has a healthy following. This was certainly aided by the fact that an episodic film like this plays pretty well on television—strategically-placed commercial breaks can’t completely destroy its rhythm. That’s where kids like me found it in the 70s and fell in love with it.

RACE 2 ba7a8733

The Great Race presents its great cast and crew at the absolute peak of their powers. Lemmon’s a riot in his dual role (I’d be happy with another two hours of Fate’s disastrous stunts). Curtis is perfect as the perfect hero, bringing just the right amount of life to a character that’s required to be somewhat bland. Natalie Wood’s both funny and beautiful. Peter Falk comes close to stealing the whole thing. Blake Edwards brings all this chaos together and makes it work—though some find it an exhausting experience. And, of course, Henry Mancini knocks off another brilliant score.

Great Race Boys LifeTake a quick look at that list and realize that everyone associated with The Great Race has passed on: Lemmon, Curtis, Wood, Falk, Edwards and on down the line. But almost 50 years after its release, in The Great Race, they seem vibrantly alive on the new Blu-ray from Warner Archive.

Russell Harlan’s Oscar-nominated camerawork is really shown off here. Colors pop and the image is amazingly sharp and detailed. (Wish the same could be said for the Blu-ray of his work on Rio Bravo.) The stereo is clean, giving plenty of punch to Mancini’s music and the cartoonish sound effects (many of which you’ll recognize from your favorite WB cartoons). We’re treated to the roadshow presentation, complete with overture, intermission and exit music.

If I didn’t already have a Blu-ray setup, this one would’ve pulled the trigger—it’s an all-time favorite, and a real demonstration of everything the format can do, from astounding clarity to film-like texture to warehousing a sizable stash of extras. Highly, highly recommended.

Push the button, Max!


Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Tony Curtis, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #2: The Great Race (1965).

Great Race LC sized

As a kid, growing up in the Seventies, I could barely contain my excitement when Blake Edwards’ The Great Race (1965) would turn up in the TV Guide. I’d count down the days, plan the perfect snack and on and on. It was always a big deal.

Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-ray release is an even bigger deal. Here are some of the specs:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1
Original Road Show Version with Overture, Intermission, Entr’acte, and Exit music
Special Features: Behind the Scenes with Blake Edwards’ “The Great Race”, Theatrical Trailer
Available 9/9/2014; you can pre-order it now
Click on Professor Fate to find out more.

I can’t wait to share this one with my daughter.

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Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Warner Archive