In this classic romantic comedy, Jane Osgood (Doris Day), a single mom with two children, is in thelive lobster business. But when her first big order for the Marshall Town Country Club turns up dead through no fault of her own, it kills her chances for a successful season. Discovering budget cutsat the railroad are to blame, she turns to George Denham (Jack Lemmon), her longtime admirer and anattorney, to seek compensation from the railroad's tyrannical owner, Harry Foster Malone (Ernie Kovacs). Jane wins in her local courthouse, but Malone agrees to pay only for the lobsters, not damages. She refuses his offer on principle and the battle is on. The press has a field day with this modern-day David and Goliath story. And the whole country turns to Cape Anne, Maine, to watch as one woman stands up to "the meanest man in the world." It could happen to anyone but IT HAPPENED TO JANE.
Doris Day was nearing her popular zenith, and Jack Lemmon just hitting his stride, when they teamed up for It Happened to Jane
, a small-town comedy in the Capra vein. Doris is a widowed mom whose Maine lobster business is snarled by railroad tycoon Ernie Kovacs (hiding behind a skullcap and a huge cigar), the "meanest man in America." Her lawsuit against him, aided by lawyer-suitor Lemmon, gains national headlines. This is a curious movie: crucial scenes seem to have been left unwritten, while sequences involving Cub Scouts and an oddly impassioned Town Hall Meeting go on endlessly. Director Richard Quine was making some fun movies around this time (Bell, Book, and Candle
), but the fizz is only intermittent here, mostly provided by Lemmon's jack-in-the-box youthfulness. Doris sings a couple of tunes and brings her downhome tomboy routine to New York City, where the movie employs some of the quaint TV personalities of the day. --Robert Horton