Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1960s Collection: Good Neighbor Sam (1964)

James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum made a career out of comedy, starting TV and debuting their first movie script here. They also wrote The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Angel in My Pocket and The Reluctant Astronaut. Greenbaum’s talent also was used to create the sculptures in this movie.

Sam Bissell (Jack Lemmon) is an ad exec who wants off the hamster wheel so that he can concentrate on his true love — the aforementioned sculpture work that he makes out of found materials. He has a great marriage with Minerva (Dorothy Provine, That Darn Cat!) and two kids, but when his wife’s best friend Janet (French actress Romy Schneider, who was briefly in Hollywood to make this movie and What’s New Pussycat?) arrives, his life goes to pieces.

The good? He’s a family man, unlike the rest of the agency, so he’s the perfect man to keep their toughest client, dairy owner Simon Nurdlinger (Edward G. Robinson) on retainer. But Simon thinks that Janet is Sam’s wife. And because Janet can only get her inheritance if she’s married, she has to convince her relatives that Sam is her ex-husband. But how will his wife handle all of this?

As someone who has spent his life in advertising, I loved seeing the glory days of 50s advertising, even if it’s portrayed as a soulless place. The agency in the film, Burke & Hare, is named after the notorious body snatchers William Burke and William Hare*, while everyone there seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So, you know, it’s very realistic.

You just know that the agency that partnered with this movie missed all of the work/life balance lessons in the movie and instead celebrated that they were able to get product placements all over Good Neighbor Sam for their clients Hertz, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Air Lines and Allied Van Lines.

*It’s also a reference to Jack Finney, who wrote the book that this was based on. And oh yeah — he also was the writer of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Mill Creek’s new Through the Decades: 1960s Collection has twelve movies: How to Ruin a Marriage and Save Your Life, The Notorious Landlady, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Chase, Baby the Rain Must Fall, Mickey One, Lilith, Genghis Khan, Luv, Who Was That Lady? and Hook, Line and Sinker. You can get it from Deep Discount.

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