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IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU, 1954
Starring: Judy Holliday, Peter Lawford and Jack Lemmon
Gladys Glover moves to New York City in her pursuit to make her name known. In her attempt to do this, Gladys rents a billboard space solely to write her name on so everyone can see it. Businessman Evan Adams has other plans for the space - to advertise his own company, so he tries to bribe Gladys by offering her other signs around the city, which she accepts. With this, Gladys begins to be recognised and finds herself on various television programmes and endorsing various products. As the amount of time she finds herself working gradually increases, and her personal life begins to suffer, Gladys is made to rethink what she considers most important in her life and how she wants to live it.
With a great performance by Judy Holliday (as always), and likewise for Jack Lemmon in his first credited film role, It Should Happen To You is entertainment at its best.
When I first watched this film I was stunned as to how relevant it is to modern society and its obsession with celebrity culture.
Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday) is a young woman obsessed with fame and wants to make her name known. She is not concerned with being particularly good at anything and making a name for herself from this, but would do pretty much anything to gain some degree of celebrity status. So, with the money that she has been saving, she rents a billboard and simply gets someone to paint her name on it. Evan Adams has other plans for the space and bribes Gladys with the offers of other signs in place of the one she is renting. She agrees to this and with more signs of her name around the city she gets the fame she always wanted.
Gladys’ entry into the world of television show appearances and endorsements makes for hilarious viewing. Her attempts to read an auto-cue in a natural manner are nothing short of dismal, and her photo shoots dressed in ridiculous costumes, smiling with all of the cheesiness imaginable can’t help but put a smile on your face as it reminds you of the countless number of people we see on our screens day today who are more than willing to sell their soul for a bit of publicity.
What Gladys is scared of in life is being part of the crowd. In her own distorted view on life, self-worth is distinguished by how well known you are. She sees only two ways that she can live her life: Firstly, working in a shoe factory and marrying the first man that asks (which she despises the idea of), or secondly, by making a name for herself and being “above the crowd” as her friend Pete would say.
Prior to renting the billboard, Gladys meets Pete Sheppard (Jack Lemmon) who is a documentary filmmaker. Pete is unable to comprehend how she, a grown up civilized woman, could take her hard earned cash and throw it away on what he calls “nonsense”. In spite of his inability to comprehend Gladys’ obsession with getting her name known, Pete takes an instant shining to her and as time goes by falls in love with her. She is so wrapped up in her own quest for stardom that he begins to believe it is a wasted effort of his trying to win her affections. The final straw for him is when he sees Gladys with Evan Adams. Although the meeting between Gladys and Evan is on her part business (Evan most certainly has ulterior motives), Pete decides that he stands no chance with her so leaves after finishing his film that he has adjusted to a goodbye film for Gladys, letting her know his feelings for her.
From this point on, the film follows the usual love story film formula as she realizes when he is gone that she loves him and gives up everything she has in order to be with him. It is a bit disappointing that Gladys has to give up all of her dreams (no matter how conceited they may be) for her and Pete to be together. In this sense, by the end of the film Gladys Glover exemplifies the “perfect” woman of the early fifties whose priorities shouldn’t concern wanting anything for herself, but with being a “good” wife to a man.
IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU