Jack Lemmon and Steve Carell

No. Steve Carell isn’t a better actor than the late, great Jack Lemmon, but he might be a contender. Their talent is similar enough for me to make the connection; if I had the inside ear of Mr. Carell, I would advise him to step up and follow Jack’s path and fight for more dramatic roles, because once an actor is associated to their Golden Age counterpart, it amps up the brightness of their star power. Consider George Clooney and Cary Grant. Tom Hanks and Jimmie Stewart. Brad Pitt and Robert Redford. Meryl Streep and Katherine Hepburn. Michelle Pfeiffer and Lauren Bacall, Naomi Watts and Grace Kelly–pairings I associate when I watch either one.

Steve Carell has deviated from comedic roles and branched out to flex his dramatic muscles. Carell’s got a gift for comedic timing playing dorky, clueless, good-hearted men. Frequently he is the butt of the joke or the rag-doll of the Gods. I’ve been laughing at his voice, his expressions, and his situations for almost twenty years. He had a cult following for seven years as Michael Scott, the principal character in the television series, The Office. In films, he grew away from the sophomoric comedy and turned to dark comedy. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) was an indie-great. Then he surprised many with his dramatic portrayal of creepy John DuPont in Foxcatcher (2014). Carell was convincing in the A-list ensemble cast of the comedy-drama, The Big Short (2015). When I watched him in Woody Allen‘s Café Society (2016), I was impressed with Carell’s role as the uncle whose mistress broke the heart of the protagonist, Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg). In 2017, according to Indiewire, LAST FLAG FLYING a Richard Linklater film, is a “spiritual successor” to The Last Detail (1973). That should be good. Another intriguing role Steve Carell will play in 2017 is the comedy/drama, Battle of the Sexes as Bobby Riggs and Emma Stone as Billy Jean King. In fact, it seems as though a new genre is blossoming. What was once labeled a dark comedy is now a “comedy/drama”. Please, what’s the difference? It’s the perfect stage for Steve Carell who is the new King.

There are not many actors today who can pull off comedy and drama. Jack Lemmon was an expert at both. I can hardly think of another actor who had his breadth of talent. Nominated 8 times and winning 2 Oscars (Best Actor: Save the Tiger (1974); Best Supporting Actor: Mister Roberts (1956), Jack Lemmon was highly esteemed by everyone in the business. He was a nice guy. A ham who wasn’t afraid to show humility and a sharp mind.

When I consider Jack Lemmon’s career, his younger roles, his goofy antics and energetic bursts, it is a type of stoogy-sidekick, the butt-of-the-joke character that Carell has played numerous times. It’s when Lemmon expanded his repertoire and included dramatic roles like the drinking-buddy tragedy, Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or the frustrated Bud Baxter in The Apartment(1960), it tempered the wacky expectation from viewers. Over time, he became ambidextrous, balancing comedy with drama with precision. Some of my favorite roles Jack played were as older men. Characters where time had passed them by. Desperate workers and discarded human beings who had lost their purpose in society. The older Jack Lemmon conveyed multiple emotions in a single performance. He was never wooden.

Steve Carell is in his early 50s; Jack Lemmon passed at 76 and worked to his final days. If Steve Carell chooses scripts that allow him to stretch his acting potential, I doubt he’d catch up to Jack’s 8 Oscar nominations and 2 wins, but who cares, right? Jack has a legacy, and Steve is bankable. Let’s see if Carell has the longevity that bypassed several of his contemporaries.

Welcome! Join Australian movie buff LLOYD MARKEN and I as we steer April’s discussion to the ten best films of one of the more charismatic actors since 1971–Jeff Bridges. How do you narrow down his ten best performances? Lloyd will feature five nominations and I’ll provide five. Then you tell us your favorites and why.

All you need to do is pledge to watch a Jeff Bridges film you HAVEN’T seen and revisit one you have. Then, stop by on the 13th of April and join the discussion. Everyone is welcome. 

Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr



Continuing my winter festival celebrating an actor I know too little about…

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison(1957) is a fine, fluffy tale starring Deborah Kerr as Sister Angela, the pretty nun engaged to Christ and stranded alone on a South Pacific island during World War Two. With her expressive face and good sport attitude, she and U.S. Marine Corporal Allison, played by Robert Mitchum are a perfect pair. Directed by John Huston, interior and exterior shots are interesting to watch, such as when the Japanese take over the island, and Mr. Allison is hiding on top of a storage cabinet in the shadows. The camera angles are from Mr. Allison’s point of view and the audience hides along with him looking down waiting for a chance to escape. Externally, the air raid was well done. You can find more details and trivia about the film at TCM site found HERE


Sister Angela and Mr. Allison find a commonality by recognizing that their vocations are bound by rituals and devotion. Nuns seem to be a thing of the past, and I admire the strength of conviction of Sister Angela as she struggles with her feelings for Mr. Allison and her duty to Christ. Robert Mitchum is charming as the matter-of-fact Marine who succumbs to infatuation. He’s an orphaned boy in a man’s body, lonely and craving for someone to love. Their friendship and classy ending had me smiling for hours. John Huston captures the gorgeous coast line and island fauna of Tobago and Trinidad. Who cares that Mr. Allison had been drifting at sea for who-knows-how-long and arrives at the island with a perfect haircut that never grows throughout the film? The chemistry between Mitchum and Kerr created a feel-good classic for which Kerr was nominated for Best Actress and Huston for Best Adapted Screenplay from another medium. 4/5


1920s Australian shepherding family, Ida and Paddy Carmody in The Sundowners (1960). A strength of the film is the director Fred Zinnemann‘s capturing of movement, be it the nomadic family, the husbandry of sheep herding, horse racing, or the Australian countryside. It is a beautiful film. Once again, Deborah Kerr is nominated for a Best Actress award. 3.5/5


Mitchum and Kerr starred in three films together. Which one is your favorite? I have not seen The Grass is Greener (1960). Do you recommend it? Did you see their last television film from the 1980s, Reunion at Fairborough?

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