Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 26 October 2012

'50s comedy: Artists and Models (1955)

I just missed Martin & Lewis when I was growing up, but dutifully saw some of the solo Jerry Lewis movies, which I have not seen since. I had been meaning to give ARTISTS AND MODELS a go - but here's the thing: I can't stand Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis together! - and I not a great fan of kooky McLaine either so I ended up watching most of this on fast-forward and even then it was a pain! So maybe I should not bother saying any more about it ....
Dean Martin plays an artist named Rick Todd and Jerry Lewis is his room-mate Eugene Fullstack. Eugene happens to be obsessed with comic books and has very bad dreams because of those. Rick gets an idea to make a comic book from Eugene's dreams. In the same building there lives Abigail Parker (Dorothy Malone), who's the author of Eugene's favorite comic book The Bat Lady and her room-mate model Bessie Sparrowbrush (Shirley MacLaine) who poses as The Bat Lady. Rick likes Abby and Bessie likes Eugene, so after some too-tiresome-to-go-into routines, both sets of room-mates get together and swop partners. Phew!
On the plus side, Anita Ekberg has a few moments and Dorothy Malone is as ever absolutely splendid. The boys though seem a bit old to be still room-mates sharing a bedroom - at least they do not share a bed like Laurel & Hardy!

The saving grace here though is that it is a Frank Tashlin picture, he co-wrote and directed it. Tashlin was a cartoonist with a great visual eye for a joke and there are several goodies here, like the amusing scene with the water cooler. Lewis though seems to be retarded throughout - which presumably was funny for '50s audiences, but for me as with Danny Kaye (and Roberto Begnini) you either love or hate him, and its the latter for me. The French adored Lewis and elevated him to genius level .... well, thats the French for you.
This one and presumably their last HOLLYWOOD OR BUST are the '50s in aspic, as is Tashlin's next one, THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT (below) in '56 where he comes into his own. This one for me is a '50s masterpiece, not only for Jayne Mansfield, but all the gags about rock and roll and the great artists featured. That one I can watch any time, and Tashlin's next one also with Jayne: WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? in 1957. He also did a good early 60s one I remember fondly: BACHELOR FLAT with Terry Thomas and the unique Tuesday Weld. But back to Martin & Lewis: they have several long scenes here which I simply find painfully unfunny even on fast-forward .... but thats comedy: we all have our own likes and dislikes .... after this though I have no more interest in Martin & Lewis.

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