Phffft (1954)

MARK ROBSON

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 1954.  Story and Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Judy Holliday is a successful soap-opera writer and Jack Lemmon a high-flying lawyer who, at the beginning of this sophisticated comedy, have decided to divorce.  No sooner than she returns from her trip to Reno are the both of them living the high life, he growing a moustache, buying a sports car and romancing a delightful  (still in her early pre-Picnic Marilynesque years), she buying a new wardrobe and having dinner at fancy clubs with suave men.  Their chance encounters with each other, and their dull times with other people, lead them to believe that perhaps the spark between them hasn’t completely died.  Anyone with the scantest knowledge of comedies of remarriage knows where it’s going, but what surprises is how very dated the film isn’t: culturally there are throwbacks to a time gone by (especially in ‘s idea of swinging bachelorhood), but the arguments between the couple are intelligently written and never go towards the histrionic.  Its plot is never complicated enough to satisfy (this isn’t The Awful Truth), and yet so much of it plays with a smooth, witty and light touch, plus there’s a fabulous dance number at a night club that is simply delightful.  The title is taken from Winchell’s famous society column, a word he often used to describe the breakup of a well-known couple.

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