Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Lemmon Talks Business

Cleveland Press November 22, 1967

NEW YORK NOTEBOOK: The occasion had been a press preview of Paul Newman's "Cool Hand Luke," but the man being introduced around -- after Newman had been interviewed -- was Jack Lemmon

This was Jack Lemmon, businessman, at this time for he had no role in the movie. The film was a product of Jalem Productions and the president of it is Lemmon.

The company had originally been formed, as so many of these actor-run companies were, to set up the star as a corporation. But Jalem has gone further, and is making movies in which Lemmon does not appear. It is now a going concern not just a tax saving device.

"As a businessman I keep my mouth shut," he said frankly. "I function as an actor. I have a company but I have a man, Gordon Carroll, who is the producer of a movie. I'm involved, but I wouldn't usurp the producer.

Gordon's the boss.

JALEM HAS just closed a deal with CBS Theatrical Films, Lemmon said. This is a subsidiary of the network which will produce films for theatrical release. The contract is for four movies, two with Lemmon and two without.

If Lemmon is reticent about his business ventures, he is far less so about his acting. And he is his own toughest critic.

He was quite willing to talk about "Luv" which took a roasting from the reviewers and didn't fare well with audiences either.

"GETTING THAT skinny for the role didn't help," he said. "But aside from that I was disappointed in myself. I wasn't personally happy with what I did as compared with I should have done.

"No, it's no one else's fault. I had a choice as to how I could play it. I thought it demanded reality and I tried to play him as believable.

"I don't think it worked," he added.

"Look, it's not a question of whether a performance is successful in someone else's opinion. I'm not saying that about the part just because the movie isn't very successful.

"'THE APARTMENT' was successful but I'm not pleased with my work in it. I think I made mistakes," Lemmon said.

Another co-production of the Jalem outfit was "Fortune Cookie," some of which was made in Cleveland. How had that one fared?

"It wasn't as big a hit as we hoped for, Lemmon admitted. "I don't know why. Maybe it was the combination of comedy and drama.

"NO, I WOULDN'T have played that role any differently. I was pleased with it, but it was Walter Matthau who saved the movie.

"WALTER AND I have just finished "Odd Couple" and no matter what happens to it, I think this is it. It's good and I'm pleased."

Did he hanker to get back on stage?

"Sure, but I don't think I will. I'm fortunate enough to have a successful career in films. The timing would have to be right so that I could remain in a play for a while if it hit.

"However, with my record in plays, I shouldn't worry about that. Whenever I've been in one it closed immediately."

Lemmon was getting candid again.