Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Out-of-Towners

This is a minor work by Neil Simon, written directly for the screen, but it’s still funny. I don’t think any actor who ever lived could have played the character of George Kellerman and taken me through the whole movie without driving me crazy. George is a whiner, though he never actually whines. He feels he is entitled to a better deal from everybody else, including God. As soon as things go wrong, he rails against fate or anyone who happens to be in the area and might have caused him trouble. Usually these are the little guys; when his luggage goes astray, he takes the name of the agent who had nothing to do with his misfortune. He takes everybody’s name, and intends to sue them all. How he got where he is without being up to his neck in litigation is a mystery. Through the whole picture, as disaster after disaster befalls him and his calm, long-suffering wife (Sandy Dennis), if only he had taken her advice everything would have been fine. But he never listens to her, he always knows best, and he’s always full of shit. He is a pipsqueak blowhard and a buffoon. He managed to develop a terrible ulcer living in small-town Ohio. He is the last person on Earth who should be moving to New York City. Like I said, Only Jack Lemmon could have played this so interestingly that I didn’t want to actually jump into the screen and strangle him … though I kept wishing Sandy Dennis would.