Sunday, 8 February 2015

Nobody's Perfect

The great movie director Billie Wilder once said, 'Happiness is working with Jack Lemmon.'

Jack Lemmon would be celebrating his 90th birthday today, 8 February 2015, but for the fact that he died in 2001.

Fantasy Bob never batted with Jack Lemmon at the other end, so he cannot vouch absolutely for the veracity of Wilder's sentiment, but he thinks it must be right. For happiness is certainly watching any of Lemmon's fine performances in a string of classic movies and no more so than the great comedy Some Like It Hot.

Despite having no cricketing content, Some Like It Hot is well up FB's rankings of the greatest movies of all time and Jack Lemmon's contribution to its magic is among its highlights. Mystifyingly Lemmon was beaten for the Oscar by Charlton Heston performance as the chariot driving Ben Hur.

FB is sure that his worldwide readership can easily bring to mind the incomparable final scene in Some Like It Hot. Having breathlessly escaped from chasing gangsters Lemmon gives his admirer Joe E Brown a list of reasons why they cannot get married, ranging from a smoking habit to infertility. Osgood (Brown) dismisses them all; he loves Daphne (Lemmon) and is determined to go through with the marriage. Exasperated, Jerry (Lemmon) removes his wig and shouts, "I'm a man!" Osgood simply responds, "Well, nobody's perfect."

That final line seems perfect but the story is that it was put in by Wilder and his partner  IAL Diamond just to fill the space until they thought of something better. They are still thinking. 

Do they recognise how the line resonates for lower league cricketers who have sat through the movie wondering what relevance it is to their cricketing interests?  Cricketers struggle - the cross dressing, the shimmering of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis' Cary Grant impersonation - what does it mean to them?  

But suddenly out of the screen comes the line they hear every time they trudge back to the pavilion having swing hopelessly all round a straight one - 'Nobody's perfect.' 

They understand.  Delving a little deeper, cricketers will understand that the line does have a sporting background - while Wilder and Diamond were not noted sports enthusiast, Joe E Brown the actor who utters the immortal words certainly was.  Among his early work was a baseball trilogy and he broadcast on TV and radio for the New York Yankees - indeed it was this work that gained him the role in Some Like It Hot.  he was not the original choice for  the role that he made his own until Wilder and Diamond heard him at a baseball game.  

Nobody's perfect?  But Joe E Brown is - and Jack Lemmon too.  Happy Birthday.

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