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It Should Happen to You


It Should Happen to You (1954)

      I have not necessarily been a fan of Judy Holliday, but she changed my mind in It Should Happen to You. She does a great job of playing a somewhat ditzy, vain, dreamer who seems to be oblivious to romance as she endeavors to “make a name for herself”.
      Holliday plays a non-native New Yorker Gladys Glover who just lost her job as a girdle model over a matter of “a quarter inch”. She runs into Jack Lemmon‘s Pete who is shooting documentary footage in Central Park. The two chat about how impossible it is to meet nice people in the city, completely ignoring that they have both proved an exception to the rule. Taking some vague assurance from Pete that she will make her dream of fame come true, Gladys opts to use the $1,000 she has saved to purchase three months of advertising space on Columbus Circle.
     Peter Lawford comes in as Evan, who works high up in his family’s soap company and who desperately wants the Columbus Circle spot Gladys purchased. The young woman is unwilling to budge, but ultimately scores six billboards throughout the city in exchange for her one. She also scores several dates with Evan, whose motives seem to be about getting the gal to bed. Meanwhile, Gladys’ friendship with Pete has blossomed as the man has moved into her building. He is utterly frustrated over his inability to share his romantic feelings for the woman, who is distracted by her new-found fame.
     I have to wonder how strange it must have been in 1954 for someone to become famous for doing nothing. Contemporary society is plagued by reality show stars and celebrities famed only for having a sex tape. Gladys’ popularity, however, is shrouded in mystery. The billboard merely feature her name, nothing more, so when giving her name to a department store clerk, she is first “recognized” and hounded by fans. When a TV show host speculates over who Ms. Glover is, the woman calls him up and ends up with an agent who books her TV show appearances.
     This was Jack Lemmon’s second film and his first leading role. He plays his usual quirky self, although one who is less nervous than in some of his more famous spots. I always find the man enjoyable to watch, and I do not think anyone else could have played the role in the same manner or in a way as appealing. For a moment toward the start of the movie, the viewer might be convinced this will be a story of the nice guy versus the rich, handsome guy in acquiring the girl’s affections, but It Should Happen to You is not like that in the least. Lawford’s character, although seeming to gain ground, never stands a chance against Gladys’ love for fame. Pete also suffers a position second to the attention Gladys has gained, but is able to provide a happy ending after smacking the protagonist back to reality.
  • It Should Happen to You is set for 6:30 p.m. ET Feb. 18 on TCM.

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