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Film / It Should Happen to You

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This Dumb Blonde is quite the Determinator.

"The way it looks to me, Mr. Adams... there are two kinds of people. The ones who would do anything to make a name for themselves and the ones who would do almost anything."
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Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday) is tired of being a nobody when she specifically came to NYC to be a somebody, and the fact that she’s been fired from her modeling job makes matters even worse.

Wandering around Central Park, she meets documentary filmmaker Pete Sheppard (Jack Lemmon), who falls for her instantly. Gladys, on the other hand, is inspired by Pete's twist on a famous saying (“where there's a way, there's a will”), and decides to finally get out of her rut.

On Columbus Circle, she manages to rent a billboard which plainly displays her name. Complications arise when ad executives need it for an Adams soap campaign, and through smart bargaining, Gladys makes a deal to change that one solitary billboard into six, all across New York City. This, in turn, makes her a local celebrity with everyone wondering about Gladys Glover.

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Things blow up significantly for Gladys: she's getting TV spots, radio spots, her own Adams soap campaign, and being romanced by Evan Adams III (Peter Lawford), the heir to the soap empire. Meanwhile, Pete isn’t happy with any of Gladys' schemes to become a household name, or the fact that he doesn’t have a fair chance of getting Gladys with a millionaire playboy lurking around.

Released in 1954 and directed by Romantic Comedy genius George Cukor, It Should Happen to You stars Judy Holliday playing her magnificent dumb blonde role and Jack Lemmon in his feature-film debut.

Not to be confused with It Could Happen to You.


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Gladys Glover Always Uses These Tropes:

  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Gladys gets what she wants, but immediately begins to hate it when she has to be in a “crooked” ad, pretending to have lost a lot of weight.
  • Alliterative Name: Gladys Glover rolls off the tongue nicely.
  • An Aesop: Being part of the crowd isn’t bad, and Celebrity Is Overrated.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between the two leads.
  • Big Apple Sauce: Early 1950s New York City.
  • Brand X: Gladys Glover Always Uses Adams’ Soap.
  • The Casanova: Evan Adams the Third.
    Gladys: [necking with Evan] You must be pretty experienced, huh?
    Evan: In what way?
    Gladys: Well, I mean…you, I guess, you do quite a lot of this, don’t you?
    Evan: I suppose I do my share.
  • Cue Card Pause: While on the TV spot, The People Speak, Gladys does this to hilarious effect, but she has a Throwing Out the Script moment, and her manager says it’s better for her to just say whatever comes to her mind than to read a cue card.
  • Double Entendre: During the panellist TV show:
    Ilka Chase: At what age should a girl marry? It seems to me Dr. Manning that it’s very dangerous to generalize.
    Dr. Manning: We have found out after many years of research—
    Constance Bennett: I quite agree with Ilka. I know lots of girls that have been married at sixteen, and very happily, too.
    Dr. Manning: Well, statistics show us that—-
    Wendy Barrie: But Connie, for a certain type maturity is terribly important.
    Dr. Manning: Now, if you take—-
    Ilka Chase: Gladys, what do you think?
    Gladys Glover: Well, [takes sip of water], I think if they’re big enough, they’re old enough.
  • Dumb Blonde: Judy Holliday is famous for her semi-clueless blondes.
  • Feet-First Introduction: We first see Gladys' feet, bare in Central Park.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The basis of the entire film is Gladys wanting to be a “somebody”; she wants name recognition, but realizes that that’s not enough.
  • In with the In Crowd: During Gladys's date with Evan Adams III:
    Gladys: [Dancing with Evan and looking over his shoulder] Look!
    Evan: What?
    Gladys: Walter Winchell!
    Evan: [Nonchalantly] Oh, yes.
    Gladys: That's the seventh big name I've seen tonight. What a night!
  • Let's Duet: Pete and Gladys sing "Let's Fall in Love''.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gladys realizes the truth in Pete’s words when she’s giving a speech to the Military Air Transport Service who are naming a plane after her, and she later changes the speech to honor those men, instead of her.
  • Nice Hat: Gladys’ feather hat hits Pete a few times.
  • Not What I Signed Up For: In an ad where Gladys has to pretend to have been over-weight and used “Kwik Slim” to shed the pounds, she complains that it’s crooked and wrong.
    Gladys: I’ve certainly done a lot awful things in my life, some of them pretty stupid, but never crooked.
  • Only in It for the Money: The TV announcer/manager to Gladys.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: As Gladys gets more popular, her entire apartment is filled with photos of herself.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once:
    Pete: Say, if you care to give me your address, I could drop you a postcard and fix it up for you to see this picture when it gets done.
    Gladys: I'd give my right arm to see myself in the movies.
    Pete: You don't have to give me your right arm. Just give me your right address.
    Gladys: 262 West 61st Street, Room 9.
    Pete: Well, so long, Gladys.
    Gladys: [Extends her hand but instead of him shaking it, Pete kisses it impulsively. She's taken aback]
    Pete: I saw a fella do that in a French movie last week. I've been meaning to try it ever since.
  • Show Within a Show: Pete’s goodbye movie to Gladys.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The men painting Gladys’ billboard spell her last name as Clover, but she’s quick to correct them.
    Gladys: WAIT A SECOND! Wait a minute! HEY WAIT! Painters! Wait a minute! Hey sign painters, listen. Listen! G! G!
    (…)
    Not "c" like you got it, "g" like you haven’t got it!
    (…)
    Gladys with a "y" instead of an "i"!
  • Stalker with a Crush: Pete finds out where Gladys lives, and moves in to her apartment building pretty quickly.
  • Thinking Tic / Putting On My Thinking Cap: Taking off her shoes makes it easier for Gladys to think.
  • Zany Scheme: How can you get name recognition? Put your name everywhere, and where everyone can see it, like an advertisement.
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