[Initially posted on 3.9.21]

In all my decades of movie-obsessing, only one film has given me pause in the matter of male anatomy. Pause and a slight feeling of discomfort.

I must have been 14 or 15 when I first watched this scene from Mr. Roberts in our family TV room, and I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Jesus, you can see Jack Lemmon‘s twin gonads right through his Navy khaki pants.”

It wasn’t so much distasteful as distracting — I stopped listening to the letter that Lemmon was reading. I didn’t hear a word of it.

If I’d been directing (not sure if it was John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy or Joshua Logan shouting “action” and “cut” when this scene was shot), I would have pulled Lemmon aside and told him to duck into wardrobe and put on one of those metal jockstraps that baseball catchers wear. That or stuff his underwear with a big wad of toilet paper, Mick Jagger-style.

I couldn’t be the first person to notice this, I told myself. Mister Roberts played everywhere in 1955, and was considered family-friendly for the most part. But not this part.

HE’s all-time favorite Lemmon performances: Operation Mad Ball, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, The Fortune Cookie, Save the Tiger, The China Syndrome, Missing, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, JFK, Glengarry Glen Ross, Short Cuts, Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s (13).