Thursday, June 21, 2007
No comedy duo ever made me laff it up like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. As a youngster glued to the TV in the sixties I had plenty of chances to watch their movie output (which in actuality only consisted of 15 movies from 1949-1956), as all of it was regularly televised. The new collection, The Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection, Vol. 2 (Paramount Home Entertainment, $30), is made up of their last five films together (without 1954’s 3 Ring Circus), Living It Up(’54), You’re Never Too Young (’55), Artists and Models (’55), Pardners (’56) and Hollywood or Bust (’56), all in wondrous Technicolor. As I kid I was all about the wackado Jerry, as an adult all about the deadpan Dean, but buried in the midst of godawful plotting, and a bunch of vaudeville spritzing are expanded moments of true comic chemistry, a yin and yang alchemy that can dropkick you in the gut, despite the fact Martin/Lewis bond was seriously fracturing in real life. As a kid I adored Pardners, a truly dopey comedy western and Hollywood or Bust, a broad Frank Tashlin (ex-Warner animator) directed Hollywood satire, but adulthood reveals the real treasures lie in Living It Up,(click on link) wherein the duo is undeniably operating on all cylinders, You’re Never Too Young, which allows Dean, with his infamous asides and hilarious reaction shots, to put the movie in his pocket, and Artists and Models, a bountiful bit of fifties escapism peppered with director Tashlin’s surreal bits and an almost refined burst of Martin/Lewis energy, plus it’s an astoundingly good looking film in general, with both production values and directorial acumen far above the typical Martin/Lewis fare.