I have a dubious reputation.
So my mom and I were looking on Amazon for something to watch and stumbled upon this. Neither of us had ever heard of it, and we both think Jack Lemmon is hilarious.
So the film starts off in London with a man being killed, we only see his feet as he is dragged away in a car. Neighbors hear the ruckus, but don’t actually see who is causing it.
Fast forward some months and William ‘Bill’ Gridley, (Jack Lemmon), American diplomat, has returned from the Middle East. He is happy to be out of the desert and happy to be closer to America. His first duty is to find a place to live.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Carlyle Hardwicke, (Kim Novak), has been in the paper and everyone looks down on her. She needs money, but can’t work because she is married. You know how it was back in the day, this quote is from Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1949)
Store Manager: Miss Krausheimer, we understood you were a single woman. As an aid to to the unemployment crisis, it is our policy not to employ married women.
So Mrs. Hardwicke needs money and with her husband MIA she is trying to rent out half her house. No one will take it as they don’t want to rent to a murderess, which all believe her to be.
But of course, newly arrived Bill Gridley has no knowledge of this. He sees the house as perfect location, great rent and wants it.
Mrs. Hardwicke doesn’t want to rent to him as she is already talked about, imagine how it would increase if she has a male boarder! She tries to dissuade him, pretending to be the housekeeper, but Bill sees right through that and insists.
Mrs. Carlyle Hardwicke: To put it plainly, Mr. Gridley, I have a dubious reputation.
William ‘Bill’ Gridley: You DO? I’ll pay you 45 pounds a month.
He gives her the money and the deposit and when he hears she and her husband are not together, asks the beautiful Mrs. Hardwicke out to dinner.
He then goes to work for his boss Franklyn Ambruster (Fred Astaire) who is all about propriety and staying out off the radar. If Bill messes up, Ambruster’s career is on the line.
Franklyn Ambruster: I want you to know that I have no intention of watching you go down the drain and using my career as a raft.
That night he takes the beautiful Mrs. Hardwicke out to dinner and they have a lovely night, except everyone watches and stares at her. All talk, gossip, etc.
Bill sees none of it, just Carly, and falls head over heels in love for her. But before anything could happen, he gets interrupted by a phone call from his boss to come in early the next day. Moment ruined.
That night a man watching Mrs. Hardwicke’s house makes a call. The next day Inspector Oliphant comes to the embassy to speak to Ambruster and Bill. He lets them know all about the case and how they would put him on trial except that there is no body so technically no crime.
Bill is sure of her innoncence, but the inspector and his boss both want him to spy on her.
Franklyn Ambruster: If you foul up, Gridley, I’ll have you back in the Sahara so fast you’ll think London was a mirage.
William ‘Bill’ Gridley: In other words, if she knows I know, I go.
Franklyn Ambruster: That’s exactly right. And I hope you haven’t taken to talking in rhyme.
Bill sneaks into the house when Mrs. Hardwicke has left to try and get into the closet that she said he was never to use. There’s nothing in there but her husband’s clothes. He starts going through her room and finds a gun!
But she is a single woman living alone. He puts it in a different place (as soon as I saw that I knew important!!!) and starts to search more But she comes back early!!!
Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of clips of this film, but it is hilarious. Jack Lemmon is great at comedy-physical, verbal, and the faces he makes.
So he doesn’t find anything incrimminating, which is great. But the words that the inspector said to him is really starting to get to him. Carly plans a surprise for him, but all he can imagine is her killing him.
He doesn’t pay attention at the BBQ grill and puts in too much lighter fluid, the fire department is called and his face is landed in every paper.
Ambuster is furious as this goes against everything he told him he wanted. He doesn’t care that Bill is helping the police, he is sending him back to the Sahara or Iran or as far away from him as he can.
Franklyn Ambruster: Then tell me one good thing about this morning, except that it’s your last one in London.
Bill gets ready to pack up and heads to his office, Armbuster is going to go on with his usual things but is interrupted by Mrs. Hardwicke coming to the office. He is won over by her beauty and charm and has officially joined team Hardwicke.
Franklyn Ambruster: …she couldn’t possibly have done it.
William ‘Bill’ Gridley: [Pointing at himself excitedly and nodding his head] That’s your discovery?
Franklyn Ambruster: With you, it was an opinion. With me, it’s a conviction.
Carly wants Bill out of the house but Bill doesn’t want to leave. She starts acting weird and two men come to “pick up a package”. She tells them to come back the next day and then plays the organ at night.
Even weirder, she’s surprised that Bill heard her playing. Uh….???!!! You weren’t that quiet about it…
She also acts strange about her organ when talking about it.
All embassy business has been thriwn out the window. Bill and Ambuster are on the case. That night they see the man come to the house again to speak to Carly, and she leaves with a package. Armbuster follows her while Bill goes after the man. This is a hilarious chase scene through foggy London.
Bill ends up at a church, where he discovers that Carly sold her beloved organ to get money. That’s why she was being so creepy and weird about it. It was her last time to play her beloved instrument.
Carly gives Ambruster the slip, he ending up in a grave that is being dug. Carly goes to a pawn shop, pawning a silver candelabra.
That night Bill calls Armbuster to find out what he knows and Carly picks up a line and overhears the conversation, ah landlines. She’s furious and refuses to speak to Bill again, wanting him OUT!
That night she is getting ready for bed, when a man is in her room!!!
It’s her husband!!!!!! He wants the money he stole. He killed the man sent to assassinate him and took off to hide out. He struggles with her and she goes for her gun, but it’s not THERE!!! Darn you Bill.
Meanwhile, Bill is downstairs calling the inspector and telling him that he will no longer be a spy, he’s done as he is in love with Carly. The inspector has just woken up from the call and is unsure what they are taking about.
Bill hears the noises from upstairs in Carly’s room and throws the phone down to help. The inspector hearing Bill being worried, sends the police over.
When Bill gets there he finds Carly standing over her dead husband and the next scene she is on trial.
Now here is the part of the film I don’t get. They put her on trial for killing her husband and there is no acknowledgement of what they did earlier-all those months blaming her for the murder when he was alive! And knowing that she killed him in self-defense they try to make it out to be murder?
Man a good lawyer would rip them to shreds!!!! You know it!!!
So Carly acts kind of weird and doesn’t seem to defend her self.
Now when Bill tries to defend her, the prosecutor really turns his words inside out and sideways.
All seems lost until the next door neighbor’s nurse, Agatha Brown, steps in and testifies that Carly was just defending herself. The trial is declared a mistrial and all is good.
Except that Carly doesn’t seem very happy. Bill tries to talk to her but she wants nothing to do with him.
She goes home, Agatha giving her a ride and it appears the nurse is blackmailing Carly. When Bill comes home, the nurse is leaving with a paper, talking about her new room.
BIll questions Carly, but she just tells him to leave, going upstairs distraught. She goes into the bathroom with Bill trailing behind and talking to her. He hears the water stop and then nothing.
He calls out his name over and over, but nothing.
Fearing she might hurt herself, sure, he knocks the door down, but it turns out she is just taking a bath.
He questions her and she reveals what happened was that her husband attacked her and wanted the candelabra she had pawned. They fought and she killed him in self-defense. She looks out the window and realizes that Agatha couldn’t have seen anything because she spotted her walking up to the house that night, hoping to get her attention.
So if she didn’t see her than who did…Lady Fallott must have! That means she must know about the candelabra! Agatha isn’t likely to share it so they rush down to the pawn shop to see if the candelabra is still there.
Instead of the candelabra, they find the dead pawn shop owner. They know Lady Fallot must be next and go looking for her.
Meanwhile, a bobby notices them running off and goes in the pawn shop.
Carly and Bill go next door and question if they know where Lady Fallott is. While they are doing that, Ambruster stops at the flat to pick up Bill. The two run into a car to the station, heading to Penzance while the police show up.
In Penzance the two search for Lady Fallot, while Agatha is intent on murdering her. As they are scrambling and chasing, the police and Ambruster follow behind. This is a HILARIOUS chase scene all to the theme of The Pirates of Penzance
I wish I had a clip to share with you all. In the end all is right and Bill and Carly end up together.
To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)
For more Fred Astaire, go to I Won’t Let You Get Away: Holiday Inn (1942)