It Happened to Jane (1959)

Not Rated   |    |  Comedy

It Happened to Jane (1959) Poster

Jane Osgood runs a lobster business, which supports her two young children. Railroad staff inattention ruins her shipment, so with her lawyer George, Jane sues Harry Foster Malone, director of the line and the "meanest man in the world".

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  • Doris Day and Steve Forrest in It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • Doris Day and Jack Lemmon in It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • Doris Day in It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • Ernie Kovacs in It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • Doris Day and Jack Lemmon in It Happened to Jane (1959)

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20 April 2007 | mrsastor
| One of the most underrated of Doris Day's films
This has to be the most underrated and overlooked of the comedies from Doris Day's later career. I'm surprised at the relatively low score it has received here on IMDb, as it's a really fun and entertaining movie (particularly following the unfortunate Tunnel of Love she appeared in the prior year).

Rather than the lush, opulent interiors and wardrobe we usually look forward to in a Day comedy, this one is stunning for its exteriors. Filmed in New England in the summer of 1958, the film exudes idyllic small town splendor. Day plays Jane Osgood, a widowed entrepreneur (all "independent" women in 1950's TV or movies are either widows, as in Lucille Ball's later television work, or impossible-to-marry shrews like Joan Crawford in The Best of Everything). Osgood operates a budding lobster business, and when an expensive shipment is ruined by the laxity of the railroad, she takes on railroad magnet Harry Foster Malone in a highly publicized David & Goliath lawsuit. Ernie Kovacs is particularly memorable in his portrayal of Harry Foster Malone, an obvious and amusing allusion to Orson Welles' Charles Foster Kane, which was of course an allusion to William Randolph Hurst. In her legal battle, Osgood enlists the aid of local attorney and old friend George Denham, the man she's "supposed" to be with and just doesn't realize it, played well by a young Jack Lemmon. Throughout the course of the story, the film seems to at regular intervals inject some rather insightful observations on a multitude of thought-provoking topics, including the place and nature of democracy in a capitalist society, the overwhelming power wielded by big business, even the (at the time) ever expanding place of television in our lives and its ability to influence and inform. And all of this in a comedy!

The only negative I can think of is the inclusion of perhaps the worst musical number ever put on film. Jane Osgood is the den mother of the local boy-scout troop (naturally) and at the camp out in her back yard she leads them in a sing-a-long of the single most stupid, dreadful and endless song you ever heard in your life. "Be Prepared"…well they warned you! It starts out as amusingly bad, but then seems to last about fifteen or twenty minutes until you think you'd rather take your own life than hear one more note. Any self-respecting boy scout over the age of five would kick you right in the nuts if you asked him to sing this wretched torturous piece of nonsense.

This aside (it is unfortunately not that uncommon in films of this era), this film benefits well from a strong, well written script and an excellent cast. It is actually much more intelligent and heart-warming than any of the Doris Day-Rock Hudson pairings, and while it is a very different kind of film, it can hold its own against any of those. Highly recommended, but be prepared to hit the "mute" button when those boy-scouts start singing!

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