Kim Novak lures us in as... The Notorious Landlady (1962)
Back in February of 2015, I wrote a post on The Notorious Landlady, an underrated comedy from Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon in celebration of their birthdays. I was relatively pleased with the post and it seemed to get a good amount of page views, but then, just a few days over the one-year mark, I noticed something horrifying: the post looked terrible. Apparently, when I switched backgrounds and messed with some formatting, it wreaked havoc on poor Kim and Co. Everything looked wrong, including the awful pictures I had taken from my TV. The post just couldn't be saved, so I deleted it in order to give The Notorious Landlady the great post it deserved. After all, it's been getting the shaft for years -- why should I contribute to that?
She's actually Carlyle "Carly" Hardwicke (Novak), the woman of the film's title. Carly is in a bit of a spot -- because she's suspected of her husband's murder, all of London knows who she is. Plus, the government has taken her passport and they've denied her a work permit, which is why she must rent out her extra room, a room that's difficult to rent because of her notoriety. Bill seems perfect since he's utterly clueless about this mess, but Carly doesn't want
Blissfully ignorant, Bill is clearly enchanted with Carly, yet there are some things he can't explain. For example, when the twosome start to head home, that man from the strange credits
"Were you able to find anything out about Mr. Hardwicke?"
"Yes sir, they're separated, and in my opinion, a divorce is imminent."
"Don't you think that would be adding insult to injury?"
"Gridley, Mrs. Hardwicke murdered her husband."
Carly hasn't been officially charged, but it's only because the body hasn't been found. Bill finds it all pretty hard to believe, so Ambruster brings in a Scotland Yard detective named Oliphant to talk to him. Determined to prove Carly's innocence, Bill agrees to spy on her.
His suspicions get worse as he inspects Carly's room and notices
Ambruster quickly hears about it and calls Bill:
"Gridley, I want you to meet me at the Lion's Head Pub in Chelsea."
"What are you talking about? I said the Lion's Head in Chelsea. Oh, did you say the Embassy because she's standing there?"
"Well, if she's standing there, why are you saying that?"
"She's not standing here!"
"Then why are you whispering? Oh, never mind, Gridley. I'm beginning to understand how your mind works and it frightens me."
"I don't care whether you killed him or not!"
"Well, I -- you don't?"
"I knew about that the day after I moved in here."
"I did, I said quite a few things at the time, among them that I adored you. Well, maybe I didn't, I'll say it now. I. Adore. You. If you killed three husbands, I'd still love you."
Ambruster interrupts their tender moment to call and say that he followed Carly to a pawn shop. Bill figures out that must have been how she got the money to pay back his rent and both men
As he's talking, Carly tries to grab her gun, but if you've been
Carly goes free, but she wants Bill out of her house ASAP. He comes home and overhears Ms. Brown thanking Carly for
They decide they need to find Mrs. Dunhill, unaware that Ms. Brown is hiding in the next room. Things kick into high gear as Bill and Carly hurry to get to Mrs. Dunhill, who Ms. Brown took to an old folks' home by the sea to keep her in the dark about the blackmail. At the same time, Oliphant tells Ambruster that our darling couple were seen leaving the scene of a murder.
A warrant is put out for their arrest and soon word gets back to the detective that the two were spotted getting train tickets. Ambruster pleads with Oliphant to go with him so he can talk to Bill before they do anything. He is still an employee of the Embassy, after all.
I'm not completely sure why this movie isn't as well-known as it should be. Maybe it's because it failed at the box office...? For whatever reason, it just doesn't gain a lot of visibility. I caught it on TCM randomly five years ago and have yet to see it play again since. Fortunately it's available on DVD. The actors are all so wonderful and the script does a good job of balancing comedy, drama, and mystery. If you're looking for a great movie to curl up with on a rainy day, definitely give The Notorious Landlady a chance.
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