Monday, November 3, 2014

Jack Lemmon Stars in Hilarious 1970 Comedy About Taking on The Big Apple

Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis play Ohio suburbanites who are forced to endure a number of unexpected hardships when they visit New York City.

No one plays the harried, put-upon everyman better than Jack Lemmon. The late actor had this uncanny ability to inhabit these type of roles in such a way that the viewer could immediately empathize with his plight. He brought a genuine honesty to his performances, and it never feels like he was acting. And this skill is illustrated in his portrayal of Twin Oaks, Ohio businessman George Kellerman who finds himself in over his head when he travels to New York City to interview for a job promotion.

Directed by Arthur Hiller and written by playwright Neil Simon, The Out-of-Towners is a rippingly funny fish-out-of-water comedy.

New York City As An Urban Hell

George and his wife Gwen's trip to New York City is a disaster from the start when their flight is redirected to Boston because of bad weather, and when they finally arrive in New York City, they learn that their hotel room wasn't held because they didn't call ahead. And to top it off, all of their luggage was flown back to Ohio due a glitch brought on by the bad weather. George and Gwen's disastrous trek through New York City is one catastrophe after another. The way Neil Simon and Arthur Hiller depict it, New York City is an urban Hades where George and Gwen endure the comedic equivalent of The Trial of Job.

Neil Simon Brings His Usual Incisive Wit To Screenplay

Neil Simon's writing is as sharp as ever. The film is filled with great one-liners and witty, acerbic dialogue. Lemmon always brings his best to Simon's screenplays. He has starred in other excellent Simon-penned films, including The Odd Couple and The Prisoner of Second Avenue, and always infuses them with his patented manic, high-energy performances that his fans have come to love so well.

Sandy Dennis Makes A Great Foil For Lemmon

And Sandy Dennis is fantastic as George's stalwart, ever-patient wife Gwen. Throughout most of the film, she tries to put a positive spin on everything even when the situation looks beyond hopeless and listens patiently while her overwrought husband vents and gripes. But even she finally cracks, and it's fun to watch her lose it. Lemmon and Dennis have excellent rapport in this film, and it's hard to imagine another actress playing this role so well.

Great Supporting Cast

The supporting cast is also top-notch. Some of the standout supporting performances include Graham Jarvis as a smooth-talking mugger, Anthony Holland as a prissy hotel clerk and Anne Meara as a distressed purse-snatching victim. Also look out for a very young Billy Dee Williams in the role of an airport lost-and-found agent.

Stellar Performance From Jack Lemmon

The Out-of-Towners displays why Lemmon was such a respected actor, as he doesn't hit a single false note as George Kellerman. He brings an infectious nervous energy and naturalness to his role. 

This is a highly enjoyable and hilarious comedy in which nearly everyone can identify.

The Out Of Towners at Amazon