It Happened to Jane
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|It Happened to Jane|
|Directed by||Richard Quine|
|Produced by||Martin Melcher
|Written by||Norman Katkov
|Music by||George Duning|
|Cinematography||Charles Lawton Jr.|
|Edited by||Charles Nelson|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 14, 1959|
|Running time||97 minutes|
|Box office||$1.7 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
The film was co-produced by Quine and star Day's husband at the time, Martin Melcher.
In May 1959, in the town of Cape Anne, Maine, a foul-up by the Eastern & Portland Railroad (E&P) results in the death of 300 lobsters shipped by Jane Osgood (Day), an attractive, widowed businesswoman with two children. She gets her lawyer and friend, George Denham (Lemmon), to go after the E&P to pay damages after her customer, the Marshalltown Country Club, refuses all future orders.
In the E&P office in New York City, railroad executive Harry Foster Malone (Kovacs) learns about the Osgood lawsuit. Due to the budget cuts Malone had instated, there had been no station agent at Marshalltown to receive Jane's lobsters. Malone sends employees Crawford Sloan (Walter Greaza) and Wilbur Peterson (Philip Coolidge) to Cape Anne to deal with the situation. The two attorneys offer $700, but Jane turns it down because the loss to her business reputation is more than that.
Jane wins in court, but E&P appeals the case to the state Supreme Court in Augusta, Maine. George files a writ of execution to force payment and take possession of the train, Old 97, in lieu of payment.
Jane is interviewed by local newspaper reporter Matilda Runyon, who then calls the Daily Mirror in New York. Top reporter Larry Hall (Steve Forrest) is sent to Cape Anne for the story. Television stations also want to interview Jane. Malone retaliates by charging Jane rent for the siding on which the train is sitting.
Jane travels to New York to appear on ABC, NBC, and CBS, including the show I've Got a Secret. Fearful of bad publicity, Malone finally gives in and cancels the rent, but gives Jane the train. Meanwhile, George becomes increasingly jealous when he learns that Larry in New York is attracted to Jane and has proposed marriage to her.
Back in Cape Anne, during a packed town meeting, Jane learns that Malone has ordered all his trains to bypass the town and has given Jane 48 hours to remove Old 97 from the track. With service ended, local merchants will find it difficult to get their merchandise. Jane runs away and George, in an impassioned speech, scolds the townspeople for turning against her.
Realizing that Old 97 is just the way to deliver the lobsters, Jane and George persuade everybody to fill up the train's tender with coal from their homes. George recruits his uncle Otis, a retired E&P engineer, to engineer the train.
Old 97 sets off with Jane, her children, George, and the lobsters on board. Malone does everything possible to delay them, even as several of his office staff resign, seeing him as a villain. Jane becomes upset at the roundabout route Malone is forcing them to take. Eventually, the coal runs out, stopping Old 97 and blocking traffic.
Just then, Malone arrives by helicopter. Jane scolds him for his underhanded actions. Malone finally agrees to Jane's demands. Jane and George tell him to come along so he cannot cause any more trouble. He finally shows his good side by helping shovel coal. Larry and a photographer are in Marshall Town when the train arrives. George kisses Jane in front of Larry, and she agrees to marry George.
After the wedding, as George is being sworn in as the new first selectman, a badly needed fire engine pulls into town, a present from Malone.
Old 97 is based on the J-Class 2-8-2 steam locomotives that used to run on the New Haven Railroad. Old 97 was a common nickname for steam locomotives that had the number 97 on them.
The movie was mostly filmed in Chester, Connecticut. The final scene filmed at downtown Chester Connecticut was about 3 miles from the train station used in the movie. The locomotive in the final scene was a wooden prop built near where the final scene was filmed. People from all over Connecticut were invited to be extras in the movie.
- "It Happened To Jane", performed by Doris Day
- "Be Prepared", performed by Day
- "I've Been Workin' On The Railroad"
- "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- It Happened to Jane at the Internet Movie Database
- It Happened to Jane at AllMovie
- It Happened to Jane at the TCM Movie Database