Jack Lemmon’s feature debut. He plays Pete, an aspiring documentary filmmaker who chances on Judy Holliday’s character in Central Park. Holliday plays Gladys Glover, a naïve—and somewhat ditzy—former girdle model yearning for fame. Spying an open billboard in Columbus Circle, she uses her life’s savings to plaster her name on it for three months.
Plot happens and soon Gladys has her name on multiple signs around the city. Pete moves in across the hall and tries to build a relationship with Gladys, but she’s consumed by her signs. More plot and Gladys teams up with a sleazy manager who books her in talk-show appearances and commercials. Soon, Gladys realizes fame may not be what she dreamed.
Ugh. Where do I begin? Lemmon’s performance proves interesting. He’s raw—almost flat—in the early Central Park scenes, but as the film unfolds, we glimpse his potential. And I enjoyed the New York photography.
I hated everything else.
I hated the story. Gladys’s myopic quest for fame didn’t amuse or entertain me. An honest story about one person’s drive to rise above the crowd can rivet, but this is hypocritical chauvinistic condescension meant to reaffirm a woman’s place as married and anonymous, made by a bunch of famous people cautioning the masses against aspiring to the very fame those elite possess.
I hated the characters too. Holliday has ample charisma, but not enough to overcome her character’s egocentric behavior. Peter Lawford plays a rapey ad-man the script proffers as Pete’s rival. He’s good in the role, but the way Holliday’s character kinda-sorta condones his aggression further alienated me. Even Lemmon’s character proves creepy, as we’re expected to find his stalking behavior endearing.
In short, the film is titled It Should Happen to You but no, it shouldn’t.