Lemmon-tations of a Company Man

In 1964, Jack Lemmon starred in “Good Neighbor Sam,” playing a wholesome family man who works in San Francisco at — what else? — an advertising agency. He commutes over the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County, which I too did for a while. I shudder to think what the bridge toll is now.

Lemmon is weary of the boredom and conformity that comes with being a corporate drone. “Every day all the husbands we get up and take the same road into the same traffic jam,” he laments. “We even dress alike: We put on the same gray suit, the hat, the buttondown shirt and the tie — like sheep.”

His life gets a much-needed break from the mundane through a series of mix-ups that cause his neighbors and colleagues to believe he’s involved in wife-swapping.

Below is a taste of “Good Neighbor Sam,” in which Lemmon comes home fresh from a job promotion and instead of finding his wife in the shower, finds Romy Schneider. We should all be so lucky. — CC

19 Comments on "Lemmon-tations of a Company Man"

  1. My thoughts exactly, we should all be so lucky.

  2. CC:
    Re: “I shudder to think what the bridge toll is now.”

    Golden Gate Bridge toll rates, including FasTrak $7.00, Pay-by-Plate $8.00.

  3. Here’s the correct link for the shower scene:


  4. Roger Sack | May 5, 2019 at 1:23 am |

    I remember the movie. Lemmon practically reprised his role in The Apartment (1960)
    as a good-natured schnook. The film also included Robert Q.Lewis (trailer) and the ubiquitous
    and almost immortal Charles Lane

  5. They had no idea how well they were dressed. Or maybe they did. Conformity?

    Consider the degree to which a tastefully styled, West-of-England flannel suit, beefy OCBD, and British repp tie would “stand out” (from the crowd) today. Look at Lemmon’s suit–the natural shoulders, but also the soft, natural roll of the lapel.

    This, along with the soft roll of the OCBD, is a distinguishing trait of Ivy–contrasted with the harder, more angular, sharp-cornered (severe) lines of British tailoring.

  6. whiskeydent | May 5, 2019 at 10:50 am |

    Oddly enough, I view Trad/Ivy as an easy means to play around with colors, patterns, and textures. Sure, the gray suit is the foundation, but there are a helluva a lot of other options.

    Tweed jacket, tattersall shirt, rep tie, and flannels. Seersucker jacket, linen shirt, Madras tie, and cotton-linen pants. Blazer, OCBD, ancient madder, and chinos. Notice I mentioned no colors because, well, there is an almost endless supply of earth tones in the fall/winter and brighter pastels in the spring/summer.

    There is nothing wrong with the Cambridge gray suit and dark tie. There is also nothing wrong with playing around with all the available options and having a little fun.

  7. @S.E.

    I always find it funny when people call classic OCBD’s “beefy” – mostly because all of the hey-day era shirts I’ve owned and touched are noticeably thinner than today’s BB shirts. Maybe beefy doesn’t refer to the weight of the cloth, but if it does, I’d say the late Black Fleece line had some of the beefiest materials I’ve come across.

  8. Mitchell | May 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm |

    @JDD: You make a good point, sir. Most of the BB OCBD shirts from the 60s were much thinner than today. They were most likely selvedge oxfords, which meant they were produced on vintage shuttlefly looms. Selvedge materials are generally stiffer and “beefier” than today’s garments. Selvedge oxfords also take a while to break in and get softer with laundering.

  9. Philly Trad | May 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm |

    I also find it funny that people don’t realize that the collars on heyday OCBDs were far shorter than the collars which they think are authentic replicas, such as those on Mercer shirts.

  10. Evan Everhart | May 6, 2019 at 10:54 am |

    I’d much prefer the conformity of suits to the conformity of everyone trying to be “different” in exactly the same banal and low brow way, with athleisure and low grade disposable clothing for a low grade and disposable population who are unaware of what they can and should be able to do, or even their own rights and history; all ready for recycling instead of built up with integrity and with intent and purpose, to survive.

    The counter-culture really did counter culture, and fight it back to, and beyond the very gates.

    Those suits are beautiful, and the movie is amusing and an interesting social commentary upon the times.

  11. Henry Contestwinner | May 6, 2019 at 11:29 am |

    Hear, hear, Mr. Everhart! I will add to your list of conformity the repulsive tattoos sported by so many, and how banal they are. I keep seeing sheep with tattoo “sleeves” on their arms, or exhibitionist schlubs wearing cargo shorts and flip-flops so they can show off their leg tattoos.

    What’s even worse is that women are defacing their bodies with this permanent graffiti, too.

    The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, indeed.

  12. Charlottesville | May 6, 2019 at 11:59 am |

    Evan – Your observations on “conformity” are so true. For example, the lock-step conformity of the college students I see is no different today (hoodies and jeans with torn knees) than it was in the “rebellious” late 60s and early 70s when everyone wore the same tie-dyed t-shirts and patched bell bottoms, or the late 50’s when the preferred look on most campuses was penny loafers, and crew-neck sweaters. Conformity is always with us. I just wish that the conformist masses of today had the stylishness of the chaps in the top photo above, or the college students of 1955.

    Over the weekend, my wife and I happened to watch a 1965 episode of the old game show “What’s My Line?” on which Jack Lemmon appeared as the mystery guest. He was wearing a pinned club collar and repp stripe tie, and looked great. In addition to Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen and Kitty Carlisle, the panel included a pre-Star-Trek William Shatner. A delightful peek into a more civilized era. The episode is on you tube, if anyone is interested.


  13. Vic Delta | May 7, 2019 at 9:08 am |

    I don’t always wear neckties. But when I do, I prefer the tab.
    Stay snappy my friends.

  14. I, too, like the tab collar shirts, but they are darn hard to find in ready-to-wear.

  15. Vic Delta | May 7, 2019 at 10:36 am |

    Don. I feel your pain. My two are MTM from BB and Michael Spencer. BUT…..check out the vintage ivy model from Kamakura. Definitely worth a look. Just because they don’t fit me doesn’t mean they wouldn’t fit a normal proportioned person. Happy hunting!

  16. Evan Everhart | May 7, 2019 at 5:31 pm |

    @ Henry Contestwinner & Charlottesville:

    Thank you very kindly Gentlemen! My adopted older brother is one of those victims of so-called body art. He has spent thousands of dollars and many years’ worth of painful procedures to have them removed now that he is a consultant in the medical sector….At least he’s finally removing them.

    There is precious little as barbaric, to me, as a woman with tattoos, or excessive piercings, or a man with facial piercings and neck, face, or hand tattoos.

    The worst part is, is that these younger generations by and large seem to hold a deep and abiding detestation for the very civilization which has given and continues to give them their freedom of expression, no matter how ill-advised it may be. I am confused at their position, but likely no less confused than they seem to be about everything regarding logical or philosophy. The trouble being that as they seem to lack logical facility, they fail to see the logical conclusion, or end-game, as I think of it, of their prated anti-cultural philosophies. They seem to be in essence trying to burn the house down upon themselves. But I am ranting, a bit, though living in Los Angeles can certainly inspire such a ramble.

    Charlottesville, I thank you for yr reference to that show! I am going to watch it with the wife when I get home! Thank you kindly, Sir! I still remember people wearing ties, even to teach at school, and certainly for religious services. Sadly it seems that that is dying out, at least on the Left Coast over here.

    The problem is, that society has become one great tail wagging the dog. The youth want to emulate criminals and people who did not achieve success through overt hard work and academic achievement, but by somehow using loopholes, either athletic or creative to avoid the hard work and effort which build character. The trouble is that so many people seem to feel entitled and if they don’t get what they feel entitled to, resentment, depression, and discontent grow. It used to be that people sought to succeed by endeavor, and respected those who did. I could sum it up as the loss of America’s work ethic in the younger generations. They need to learn that not everyone will be an artist, or a producer, or a dancer, or something else decidedly rive-gauche or Bohemian. Some of us, most in fact will find other ways to contribute to society, and to better ourselves by it, but only if we are willing to do the work and to not presume on anything whatsoever being owed to us. Here I go ranting again….

    I miss civilization out here. There’s precious little left.

    @Don & Vic Delta: I too am a particular fan of the tab collared shirt. I have a great many, and wear them regularly, they really do something for a 3 piece suit! I have 2 vintage Brooks ones in white, 2 more modern Brooks ones, also in white and 6 others by PRL, Gitman Bros., and others in assorted stripes and colors, and one in a Winchester model from Sak’s back in the 90s that was my Granddad’s, it’s a bit thick in the neck for me, but I have fond memories, and if I ever get fatter, it’ll fit! ;P

    I will have to check out the Kamakura model!

  17. Evan Everhart | May 7, 2019 at 5:32 pm |

    Their detestation is ill-advised, not the freedom 😉

  18. MacMcConnell | May 9, 2019 at 2:09 am |

    Can’t imagine why Lemmon dressed Ivy, hint Phillips Andover 1943 & Harvard 1947. 😉

  19. Great time for entertaining films. I believe the man behind the left shoulder of Edward Andrews (sporting a red carnation) is Commisioner Gordon from the Batman TV series.

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