Good Neighbor Sam (1964): Romantic Comedy Starring Jack Lemmon and Romy Schneider

David Swift’s middling, verbose romantic comedy cashed in on the popularity of its male star Jack Lemmon, but did nothing for the prospects of an American career of the beautiful Austrian-born, Paris-based Romy Schneider.

Though based on the novel by Jack Finney, the movie feels like an extended TV sit com, due to the fact that the script was penned by James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, who wrote some TV sit coms, and helmer Swift hailed from the small screen.

Lemmon plays Sam Bissell, a hard-working San Francisco advertising executive, with two young daughters and a loving wife, Min (Dorothy Provine).

An important client, Simon Nurdlinger (Edward G. Robinson) wants to take his business elsewhere, based on his belief that there are no “family men” working at company—he wants “clean-cut American type, average citizen.”

To change that, Sam’s boss, Mr. Burke (Edward Andres) introduces the client to family man Sam.  But then Sam meets his wife’s longtime friend and their new next-door neighbor, Janet (Romy Schneider).

Over a dinner celebration, Sam gets drunk and tumbles down the grand carpeted staircase of the Fairmont Hotel, knocking down a waiter.

Janet, a recent, happy divorcee, inherits money from her grandfather, contingent of her being married to Howard. State law dictates that a divorce is not final until a year from final settlement. Since only six months have passed, Janet decides to hide the divorce from her cousins Irene (Anne Seymour) and Jack (Charles Lane), who would benefit if Janet is disqualified.

As Howard is not around, Sam is pressed to impersonate him when Irene and Jack arrive. The couple gets suspicious and hire a private investigator to follow Sam and Janet.

The concept of “mistaken” identities” to the limit and even the skillful Lemmon and the charming Schneider cannot rescue it from its boring and bland predictability.

Set in San Francisco, the film uses the expected exterior locations, such as the curvy Lombard Street, though most of it was shot on the studio lot.