The Notorious Landlady

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The Notorious Landlady
Poster of the movie The Notorious Landlady.jpg
Directed by Richard Quine
Produced by Fred Kohlmar
Richard Quine
Written by Blake Edwards
Larry Gelbart
Based on The Notorious Tenant
1956 Collier's
by Margery Sharp[1][2]
Starring Kim Novak
Jack Lemmon
Fred Astaire
Lionel Jeffries
Estelle Winwood
Music by George Duning
Cinematography Arthur E. Arling
Edited by Charles Nelson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 26, 1962 (1962-07-26)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Notorious Landlady is a 1962 comedy/mystery American film starring Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, and Fred Astaire.[3][4] The film was directed by Richard Quine, with a script by Blake Edwards and Larry Gelbart.


When American diplomat William Gridley (Jack Lemmon) arrives in London, he rents part of Carly Hardwicke's (Kim Novak) house from her and promptly begins to fall in love. Gridley doesn't know that many people think she killed her British husband, Miles Hardwick (Maxwell Reed), because he has disappeared; but without a body, the police cannot do a thing.

Gridley's boss, the American ambassador (Fred Astaire), learns about it and doesn't take this "lapse of judgment" lightly. When a Scotland Yard detective arrives at the embassy, he convinces Gridley, who by this time is in love with Carly, to spy on her without letting her realize she is being investigated. When a fire erupts as Carly and Gridley are grilling steaks in the backyard of her house, a scandal ensues that is played out in the papers. Since Carly is also American, she goes to the embassy to tell the ambassador that Gridley is a good man and not to send him out of the country. The ambassador proceeds to go to lunch with Carly and becomes smitten with her and proclaims her innocence.

After Carly has pawned many of her belongings to pay bills, her husband, Miles shows up alive but then is shot and killed by Carly as Gridley is on the phone with the Scotland Yard detective. Carly is put on trial but is exonerated due to the eyewitness testimony of her crippled neighbor's private nurse saying that Miles was attacking Carly. Ultimately Carly admits that she is being blackmailed by the neighbor so that Carly will give her the pawn ticket to a candelabra which Carly recently pawned. The pawn ticket was actually the cause of the argument between Carly and Miles, as the candelabra was stuffed with stolen jewels. When Gridley and Carly go to retrieve the candelabra, the pawnbroker is found murdered and Gridley and Carly find the neighbor in the act of pushing her elderly patient off a cliff to silence her story. It was, in fact, the elderly patient who witnessed Miles and Carly fighting, and the nurse merely said she was the one who saw the struggle. A chase sequence ensues whereby the patient is saved (with music from The Pirates of Penzance), and the ambassador and the Scotland Yard detective arrive to find the nurse detained.



Lemmon and Novak had appeared together on-screen twice previously, in Phffft! (1954), and in Bell, Book and Candle (1958). In both later films, Novak portrayed a landlord. Ernie Kovacs was originally signed to play Fred Astaire's role before being killed in an auto crash. Kovacs and Lemmon talk about this during an episode of the game show What's My Line? in which Lemmon was the "mystery guest" and Kovacs was a panelist.

The song "A Foggy Day (in London Town)" by George and Ira Gershwin serves as the main theme for the movie and was introduced in the Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress.


  • Nominated for Best Written American Comedy in 1963 at the WGA Awards.[5]

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