Saturday, June 13, 2009

Film Intuition Interview: Chris Lemmon On His Book, His Father's Legendary Career and The Jack Lemmon Film Collection

The Film Intuition Interview:
Chris Lemmon Chats With Jen Johans
About His Book, His Father's Legendary Career
& Sony's The Jack Lemmon Film Collection

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Author's Note: As just one of millions of film lovers who have cherished the wondrous performances which have been captured on film over the course of the life and career of two-time Oscar winner and twenty-two time Golden Globe nominated actor Jack Lemmon-- it was truly an honor to have the opportunity to interview his son and biographer, Chris Lemmon.

Warm, gracious, funny, and entertaining-- speaking with Chris was proof enough that the Lemmon hadn't fallen too far from the tree. And very quickly I realized that given his penchant for storytelling and painting visual pictures with his memories of his beloved friend and father, when the time came to transcribe the conversation, it would be best to structure it solely with Chris's own words.

So without further ado, I'm incredibly humbled and thrilled to offer Film Intuition's loyal readers and fellow Jack Lemmon fans, my conversation with Chris Lemmon regarding Sony's brand new collection of Jack's work.

Chris Lemmon:
We're so excited; this is the first shot for all five of them. And on top of that we were able to marry the theme of the book into the bonus documentary so well with these specific five titles that really basically give you a ten year slice of my father's life, his career and him as a person and an artist [which] is really just something original that I don't think has been done before.

Boy, I just couldn't be more pleased. All five separately I think are terrific works and very varied-- they show so many sides of pop because that's what he was, he was so multifaceted as a performer. I like all five of 'em and not just individually but for that specific reason that-- combined they give you almost like a history or a biography of him not just as an actor but as a person because he imbued his performances with so much of himself. So you literally see him grow from an up-and-coming star to the top Hollywood box office draw over the course of a ten year period when you take these films together as a whole.

I think he liked all of them but I really feel that he had a special affinity for Notorious Landlady only because Dick [director Richard Quine] was such a close friend and Dick and Kim [Novak] were together as a couple when they were filming that so there was a lot of off-camera emotion involved there as well. I think that when you have rich friendships like that it can only help to augment what's going on on camera no matter what it is you're playing. And also I think because it turned out to be such a hell of a good film.

Not to mention I think that Sony does as good of a job as can be done with all of their box sets; they're always tastefully done. Again, to use one of my father's favorite phrases, I'm tickled pink.

Dad clicked well with everybody. Blake [Edwards] and Dick [Richard Quine] had such a great relationship that it's just unfortunate Dick's life ended at an earlier age because I think he would've gone on to do all sorts of fun stuff. But in the book [Chris Lemmon's book A Twist of Lemmon] Blake's one quote is if I had anybody to choose to do a film with it would be Jack Lemmon.

And that happens in this business; you run across people you click with and you work with them again and again and Blake adored pop and used him whenever he could and obviously saw how multifaceted Jack Lemmon was because he was able to use him in everything from The Great Race to the Days of Wine and Roses and that's a pretty broad spectrum if you take a look at it.

The Great Race was always one of my very favorite films of my father's and to this day I still defend my stance that it's one of the great films ever made; I don't care whether it's a wacky comedy or not. I adore The Great Race and I think he was-- pardon my French-- balls-out-brilliant in it.

In the third grade or something like that, a little kid comes running up and says, "you see that kid over there-- that's Robert Conrad's son. He's the guy who acts as Jim West on The Wild Wild West; he's more famous than your dad."

And I say, "Well yeah, sure he is, he's Jim West." And when he was running away I remember thinking to myself, "I didn't know my dad was famous, I thought he was just an actor."

Jack Lemmon

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