Friday, April 08, 2011

Irma the Night Stalker

This week we entertained a friend for dinner who we typically play cards with, Cribbage or Texas Hold 'em. He pulled a fast one, however, and switched up the program by bringing something to watch. Neither I nor the gal had seen an episode of the short-lived 70's television show, Kolchak the Night Stalker, though it is the kind of entertainment we enjoy. Darren McGavin in the lead role won us over with his panache and fashion sense.

Of the three episodes we watched, that night and on subsequent ones, Kolchak wears the same clothes in every episode: white loafers, seersucker suit, and raffia hat with blue and red band, the last described as giving our hero that unmistakable maverick heretical recusant look. I knew I had seen that hat before, but where...?

Then I got it: Jack Lemmon. He wore the same hat or something very like the same hat in the 1963 romantic comedy, Irma la Douce. One look into the old archive and my hunch was confirmed:

Granted it isn't exactly the same hat. Kolchak sports a modified porkpie and Jack Lemmon's is a boater. The band could have been handed down. It's Hollywood, maybe they do that kind of thing. Regardless, it is a mark of quality.

Kolchak caters to fans of science-fictional/supernatural entertainment. I can see how it wasn't the most popular thing going in 1974. As tv shows go, it's a bit too esoteric for general audiences. That said, me and the gal can't get enough. Could be we're in suspense of ever seeing him change his clothes. Darren McGavin is outstanding and surrounded by great actors. It makes a tremendous difference.

As for Irma la Douce, the caliber of actors is through the proverbial roof. That's Shirley MacLaine sharing the picture above, in the title part. She's wonderful, as is Lou Jacobi (to my left). I could go
on about Jacobi. I could bore you to tears about Jacobi. He is Moustache. No first, no last, just the one name. It goes well with his Rue Casanova establishment, Chez Moustache. He was once a Sorbonne professor and before that a field surgeon at the Battle of the Somme. How did he come to run a chintzy dive for pimps and streetwalkers? That's another story...

Jack Lemmon rules the roost. He is in fine fettle as the hapless Paris beat cop who falls in love with Irma, and his alter ego, Lord X (to my right), who exists because... as they say, that is another story. To even begin about Lord X gives the game away. I will say only that he is not to be missed. The movie, if I may be so bold, is a pearl of great price. Rent it yesterday.

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