© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Mr. Movie: Norman Jewison

Norman Jewison, a very great director, left this vale of tears recently at the good old age of 97. He was nominated three times for a directing Oscar and won none. He was nominated four times for Best Picture and won once. They finally gave him the Irving Thalberg career (make-up) Oscar in 1999. 


Really, Hollywood? 

He was revered for his ability to get good performances from his cast. His resume would make any director proud. Read on!


Forty Pounds of Trouble (1962) stars Tony Curtis as Steve McCluskey, a casino manager, and Suzanne Pleshette as Chris Lockwood, his club singer. The title character is Penny Piper (Claire Wilcox), a small girl who is a major handful and is left to the care of Steve and Chris by her gambler father. Penny wants to be a match maker for Steve and Chris. This is one of the few movies filmed in part in Disneyland. With permission, of course. Lightweight, but likable, with a long chase scene through the park as a highlight.


The Thrill Of It All (1963) is another slight but successful effort by Jewison. Doris Day and James Garner are a happily married couple with two kids. He is a physician; she is a mom. She is hired to do commercials for Happy Soap, which are a huge success. Her career causes problems for the marriage. Modern women will cringe at the ending, but hey, this was 60 years ago!


George Kimball (Rock Hudson) is a hopeless hypochondriac. On a routine check-up visit, he hears his doctor on the phone describing a patient with only a few weeks to live. He believes the doc means him. So, he sets out with his best friend Arnold (Tony Randall, always the best friend!) to find a suitable husband for his wife Judy (Doris Day). Not the best idea for a movie ever, but an okay rom-com. Send Me No Flowers (1964) because George isn’t even sick, much less terminal.


In The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Steve McQueen is Eric Stoner, the title “kid”, an up-and-coming poker player from New Orleans. He discovers that Lancey Howard, reputedly the best player in America and known as The Man, is in town. Of course, a legendary high-stakes game ensues. On the final hand of five-card stud, The Kid has a full house. Good enough? Watch and see. Jewison said this film enabled him to move on from lightweight comedies.


Well, it isn’t lightweight but it sure is a comedy: The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966) is absolutely hilarious and a good if unlikely story. A Russian sub ventures too close to the New England coast because the captain wants to see what America looks like. The sub runs aground and is stranded. A team of Russian sailors are sent inland to find a boat to tow the sub. Alan Arkin, in his first big part, is Alexi, leader of the expedition. The funniest scene happens when the Russian sailors steal some clothes from a dry cleaner and try to convince the residents to help them. They do not speak great English. 


All of the movies in this article are OK for all ages except Cincinnati Kid. Jewison now enters the heavyweight director category. Stay tuned!