Movie at a Glance:
Movie Title: It Happened to Jane
Movie Genre: Drama/Comedy/Chick-flick
My Vote: 5 Thumbs Up: Don’t Wait for Santa – Get it Now!
Jane Osgood played by Doris Day
George Denham played by Jack Lemmon
Uncle Otis Denham played by Russ Brown
Movie in a Minute:
It Happened to Jane is a 1959 drama, comedy, and romance movie. It tells the story of Jane, an independent businesswoman, mom, and widow who owns a lobster supply company in Maine. When the company is put in jeopardy due to misconduct of the railroad, Jane recruits the help of longtime friend and local lawyer George Denham to lend a legal hand.
When the new owner of the railroad refuses to take responsibility for the incident, George pulls a legal maneuver that allows Jane to take a railroad car as payment. Thing is, instead of taking an important railroad car, the town sheriff shows up and files for an older railroad car, which doesn’t hurt the railroad as intended. Jane’s troubles are further complicated when the railroad starts charging her rent for the tracks the older railroad car sits on.
What follows is a legal battle that takes to the television airwaves as Jane, with the help of Larry, a rather friendly newspaper journalist, appears on major New York primetime tv shows to gain national attention.
As Jane shares her story with the nation and asks for help, the public begins to sympathize with her. Through her prize winnings and support, she is able to make the rental payments on the train. But how will she solve the pinch she’s gotten herself into? Can Jane, George, and Larry come up with a way to make the railroad owner see things clearly? And what about the attentions she’s getting from these 2 very different and very single guys? Watch as it all happened to Jane. ©MegsMinutes.com
This is one of my favorite movies. I’ve seen it countless times and I know it by heart. It was one of my favorites to play during my college days. I would put it on in the background as I worked. It made time go by so smoothly and it kept me focused on my work.
I don’t know what it is about this movie that makes me put it in my top favorites. Maybe it’s the casting or the small town setting and plot…or simply a combination of both. The characters are great, from Jane, the independent entrepreneur type to George, her best friend; from Uncle Otis who has great stories to share to Matilda the town’s gal reporter. The movie is like a snapshot out of a town reminiscent of Mayberry. It feels like a piece of 1950s history as we get a glimpse of the inner political working of a small New England town. Whether a town completely works as it was portrayed in this movie or not, it is a great movie to pop in and enjoy.
It’s so fun to see a cast assembled together that you don’t always see together. There’s Doris Day, who is a favorite of mine from many musicals. Then there’s Jack Lemmon playing in a fun and clean comedy opposite Day.
You also have Mary Wickes (who plays Matilda). She is an actor you may instantly remember from her equally memorable role in the 1954 holiday and musical classic, White Christmas. In that movie she plays the character of Emma Allen (late night trivia fact!).
I also liked the setting of the movie although I was quite surprised to learn that most of the scenes were shot in Connecticut and not Maine! I don’t always understand why that sort of thing happens, but for this movie the locations worked great.
I think that the main plot elements in this movie about the little guy fighting the big guy are as relevant today as they were in 1959!
It Happened to Jane has several movie scenes that always stand out to me. One is near the beginning of the movie were Uncle Otis remarks about George’s letter to run for first selectman. George asks Uncle Otis to listen to the letter and Uncle Otis quickly remarks that it “is the same as last year’s letter.” George denies it profusely, totally not understanding why Uncle Otis (and others) are saying this.
I also thought the scene where Jane and George are taking coffee together in her kitchen was special. These two actors worked so well together that this scene came off completely real and genuine. It could really have taken place in a real home somewhere.
The last scene that I wanted to mention was in the latter part of the movie where the whole town is meeting together to discuss the railroad problems caused by Jane’s lobster fight. George finally deviates from his standard speech to be raw and honest with the town, telling them just how he feels about their lack of support for Jane. He doesn’t hold anything back. While the speech may get a bit long winded, it’s well worth watching.
Now, I know I said Doris Day is in the movie – but I didn’t list it as a musical. In fact, this movie only contains one musical number (so if you don’t like musicals, you won’t have to fast-forward much! 😉 ). The song takes place when Jane is being den mother to Billy’s boy scout troop. After a cookout, everyone is gathered around the campfire with George strumming backup as Jane leads the group in the boy scout song Be Prepared. Several scouts even sing a line or two solo.
It Happened to Jane has a high re-watchability factor and is worthy to be on any bookshelf.
Meg’s Content Cautions:
Overall, this is a fun movie to watch even with the tension inherent to the plot. The threads of comedy and romance woven throughout the plot make it light hearted enough to enjoy anytime.
S- There is no sexually explicit content. There are a few cracks played for laughs about Sam, the kid’s pet lobster, who gets caught in the girl lobsters area too often. Jane receives the attention of a single news reporter who is helping her. While in New York, they share a frank discussion about his feelings towards her when he takes her back to her hotel. Most of the issues would have gone over kid’s head years ago. Today, not so much.
D- News reporter drinks beer; character smokes.
For more information on the Meg’s Content Cautions rating system, please check out the FAQs page.
Movie Character Notes:
Jane Osgood is the main character in this story. She’s the sole owner and operator of the local lobster supply company. Jane has put everything into that company and is excited to finally be catching the eyes of New England’s finest restaurants. When a New York country club places a major order for a large event, Jane thinks she’s finally made it. At least until she gets a call from the local station master. It seems that the country club refused delivery of the shipment and sent the entire order back to Maine. When Jane discovers that the shipment was not delivered on time by the railroad, she’s furious. Quickly deciding to make the railroad take full responsibility, she calls on George, the local lawyer she’s known her whole life. But can George help her win her fight with the railroad? Jane is played by Doris Day.
George Denham is Jane’s good friend and a lawyer in their small town. He dreams of becoming an elected first selectmen, trying unsuccessfully to win the town over year after year with the same kind of speech. While he and Jane grew up together and he would do anything for her, he just can’t seem to voice his feelings properly. When Jane enters a fight with the railroad company and simultaneously catches the eye of a big city journalist, will George be able to steer her to victory without losing her? George is played by Jack Lemmon.
Larry Hall is a successful news journalist who’s come to town to get Jane’s story first hand for his New York paper. The fact that she is a beautiful single mom who doesn’t back down from a fight is not lost on him. He’s soon showing more interest in the Osgood family than his assignment requires. As Larry helps Jane fight “Goliath,” he decides to win her over. But will his charming ways capture her heart? Larry is played by Eddie Hodges.
Billy Osgood is Jane’s son and proud boy scout. He loves trains and he thinks Uncle Otis had the coolest job. Billy is played by Teddy Rooney.
Betty Osgood is Jane’s daughter and Billy’s younger sister. Betty is played by Gina Gillespie.
Uncle Otis Denham is a local railroad conductor who once worked for the E&P railroad. He now works with George. He has fun stories to tell about his old E&P days, including how he was the conductor when Teddy Roosevelt rode on the line. As Uncle Otis listens to George’s first selectmen speech, he wonders if it will be any different from last year. Will George ever get elected? Uncle Otis is played by Russ Brown.
Sam is Billy and Gina’s pet lobster.
Harry Foster Malone is the oppressive new owner of the E&P railroad line. Customer service does not enter into his new railroad’s business model. When Jane Osgood starts causing him trouble, Harry doesn’t hold back. He instantly taking Jane to court and plans to win. But his PR department starts to worry as the nation starts to take notice of Jane’s plight. Will Harry waver in his fight against Jane? Or will he continue to live up to his new label as the ‘meanest man on earth?’ Harry is played by Ernie Kovacs.
Matilda Runyon is the town’s switchboard operator and budding journalist. While she goes after the latest scoops like a pro, she isn’t taken seriously. When her good friend Jane loses her order of 300+ lobsters by the hands of the E&P railroad, Matilda smells a story. Seeing that the E&P is not offering Jane appropriate restitution for their actions, Matilda decides to contact a larger paper to run her story. But will it make any difference? Matilda is played by Mary Wickes.
General Movie Information:
Movie Genre: Drama/Comedy
Movie Year: 1959
Movie Format: Color | Anamorphic Widescreen
Movie Runtime: About 1 hr. 37 min.
How I Found It: I first saw It Happened to Jane on TV.
Part of a series: No
Series Name: n/a
Movie Director: Richard Quine
Movie Studio: Arwin Productions
Movie Writer: Norman Katkov, Max Wilk
Movie Rating: Not Rated
Where to Rent and Buy:
Rent on Amazon Video: http://www.amazon.com/Happened-Jane-Doris-Day/dp/B004IND88Q/ref=sr_1_2_dvt_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433011872&sr=8-2&keywords=it+happened+to+jane
Buy DVD on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Happened-Jane-Doris-Day/dp/B00070HK2Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433011872&sr=8-1&keywords=it+happened+to+jane
Rent Digitally on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/it-happened-to-jane/id315292802
Buy Digitally on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/it-happened-to-jane/id315292802