It Should Happen to You
Judy Holliday's expertly hilarious It Should Happen to You was created when the idea that someone could be famous for doing absolutely nothing at all was still novel and strange.
Reviewed by Clay Smith, Fri., March 1, 2002
IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU (1954)
D: George Cukor; with Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Peter Lawford, Michael O'Shea, Vaughn Taylor, Connie Gilchrist.
Now that we've learned everything there is to know about curling, let's get back to business. Renting any movie featuring comedic genius Judy Holliday, who got to play the dumb blonde while being the smartest one of all, is an excellent way to return to reality after a too-long visit with strange Frenchwomen and petulant Russian skating officials. Holliday is remembered primarily for her Oscar-winning performance in Born Yesterday (1950), but It Should Happen to You (1954) is as luminous an experience as that film. Holliday plays Gladys Glover, a young lady who moved to New York to become somebody but became somebody who lost her job. In Central Park, she meets up with Pete Sheppard (Jack Lemmon in his first screen role) after she gets in a fight with one of those inveterately eccentric and grumpy New Yorkers. Pete, who's a documentary filmmaker, captures the entire imbroglio for posterity. Pete is clearly smitten with Gladys and has to figure out a way to meet up with her again, but before he can do that, Gladys decides that there's one very good way to make a name for herself, job or no job: She buys a huge, conspicuous billboard on Columbus Circle for three months to advertise ... herself (the ad simply says "Gladys Glover"). Since the Adams Company has always had exclusive right to that particular billboard, Gladys has to be appeased into removing her name. Somehow, Gladys manages to finagle eight billboards for the price of the very large one she paid for. One wonders what Gladys' parents are like. Suddenly there are all these questions. How can Pete, who's an honest, shy artist, compete with a smooth, sly business executive making the move on Gladys? What will happen to Gladys if she gets what she wants? Will fame change her? It Should Happen to You was created when the idea that someone could be famous for doing absolutely nothing at all was novel and strange (unlike now, when it's hard to say exactly why a great number of famous people are famous). Thankfully, the cultural sea-change hasn't warped this expertly hilarious classic.