Saturday, December 26, 2009

PHFFFT! (1954)

Phffft! (1954) Romantic/ comedy starring Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak and featuring Jack Carson. Written by George Axelrod and directed by Mark Robson, and was the second film with Holliday and Lemmon that year. (It Should Happen to You).

The story begins when television writer Nina Tracy, asks her lawyer husband Robert, for a divorce after 8 years of marriage. Robert thinks it might be a good idea, agrees. Nina wants to divorce Robert, because he has never taken her job seriously. After the divorce is final, Nina is hoping Robert is lonely. Instead, Robert is excited about his new found freedom and moving in with his best friend, womanizer, Charlie Nelson.

Robert and Charlie, talk about when Robert and Nina first met: Just after World War II, Charlie and Robert are lieutenants in the Navy. Charlie, in public relations, asks Robert to handle an NBC radio reporter interview and passes Nina off on him. Robert wants to impress her so tells her that he saved the Navy $75,000. Later, Robert goes over to her tiny little apartment to help Nina with her taxes. After dinner, Robert asks Nina where she sleeps, and she presses a button to show him her bed, which shoots out of the wall. When Robert is discharged from the Navy he finds a position as an associate in a prestigious law firm and Nina receives a promotion to radio writer, Robert asks Nina if she would like to file a joint tax return, they soon marry.

Back to the the present, Nina goes back home to New York City to live with her mother Edith, who takes her to a fancy restaurant, where they run into Robert and Charlie. Nina and Robert have too many martinis and glare at each other all throughout the evening.

The following week, Rick Vidal, the co-star in Nina's TV show, asks her to dinner, which she accepts. At the nightclub, Nina refuses to dance with Rick, admitting that she never learned to dance. Later that evening, she finds herself back at Rick's apartment, where the romance quickly turns into a plea to make him the star of the show.

Charlie arranges a date for Robert with Janis. At dinner, Robert realizes he has nothing in common with Janis, he takes her back to Charlie's, but not ready for a new relationship, asks her to leave.

Both trying to move on with their lives.. Nina begins taking French lessons, only to have the instructor accuse her of being a recent divorcee trying to make changes in her life. Robert enrolls in an art class, but is asked to leave because of his lack of talent.

Charlie talks Robert into changing his lifestyle, Robert goes out and buys a sporty convertible and Italian clothing. Grows a mustache and takes dance classes. Unknown to Robert, Nina has the same idea, taking private dance lessons, new clothes and remodeling the house.

My favorite scene of the movie is when, one evening at a nightclub, Robert and Nina, are surprised to run into each other on the dance floor. When a mambo is played, they try to out dance the other and end up dancing together, with everyone looking on. It is obvious that the past is not dead.

Will Robert and Nina ever find each other again?

Fun Fact: The title "Phffft" comes from Walter Winchell's column which was famous during the 50s. When a celebrity couple divorced, Winchell would describe the break-up as "phffft".

I enjoyed the on screen chemistry between Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon. This movie tells the story how you can live with somebody that gets on your nerves and in your heart at the same time. Jack Carson plays his usual bad boy part as Lemmon's friend. Kim Novak was wonderful as a Marilin Monroe type personality.

Jack Carson (27 October 1910 – 2 January 1963), was one of the most popular character actors during the 'golden age of Hollywood', with a film career spanning the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Best known for his performances in the films: Mildred Pierce (1945) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), which proved he could also perform in dramatic roles. He was also cast opposite Myrna Loy and William Powell in, Love Crazy. Carson's trademark was the wisecracking know it all .


  1. Great post Dawn and good timing. TCM is airing it this Sunday 2pm eastern standard time. I will be checking it out now.

  2. Thank you Monty.. After talking about Jack Carson, on the Doris Day page. I also thought it was good timing.. had to review :)


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