DEAN MARTIN & JERRY
Even though each went on to a highly successful solo movie career (after a rather nasty breakup), Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis remain one of the cinema best remembered teams. Martin and Lewis were impeccably matched, and displayed amazing timing; playing off of one another’s personality perfectly, with Dean being the smooth, crooning female magnet of a straight man and Jerry the outrageously nebbish comic, who always shined brightly when the spotlight turned on him. For their numerous fans, Paramount has put together the DEAN MARTIN & JERRY LEWIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE ($50), which contains eight of their early films.
MY FRIEND IRMA
MY FRIEND IRMA is the film that introduced the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to silver screen audiences... and the rest is history. Actually, MY FRIEND IRMA was based upon the popular radio program of the day, but Martin and Lewis are actually the highlight of this vehicle, which greatly benefited from their form of comic relief. The plot of MY FRIEND IRMA follows the exploits of Jane Stacy (Diana Lynn), who has a plan to land herself a rich husband by working for the right boss. Unfortunately for Jane, her featherbrained best friend and roommate Irma Peterson (Marie Wilson) always seems to be unintentionally mucking up the works. Also adding to the complications is Irma's scheming fiancé Al (John Lund), whose latest business venture has him managing the careers of Dean and Jerry's character's Steve and Seymour- the two soda jerks, whom Al tries to place on the road to show business success. Not surprisingly, Jane finds herself falling for the penniless crooner instead of Richard Rhinelander III (Don DeFore), the rich boss she tried so hard to land.
MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST
MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST is a funny sequel that pushes the team of Martin and Lewis front and center, over the characters that were at the forefront of the first film. Additionally, the plot of MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST seems to suffer from sequel amnesia- that is, it completely forgets the ending MY FRIEND IRMA. So, this time out, Steve, Seymour and the gang head to Hollywood, where Steve is going to appear in a motion picture. Unfortunately, for all concerned, their Hollywood adventure doesn’t pan out as they expect. The cast of MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST finds John Lund, Marie Wilson and Diana Lynn all back for this second outing.
THAT’S MY BOY
THAT’S MY BOY is a fairly hilarious offering that finds Jerry portraying Junior Jackson, the son of a former college football great, who is hoping to relive his glory days through his son. Unfortunately, Junior is an uncoordinated mess, who can barely say the word athlete without falling down. As for Dean, he is talented football player Bill Baker, who garners a scholarship from Junior’s Dad, that is, if he can turn Junior into some semblance of a football player. The cast of THAT’S MY BOY also includes Ruth Hussey, Eddie Mayehoff, Marion Marshall and Polly Bergen.
SAILOR BEWARE is another very amusing effort that finds Martin and Lewis enlisting in the Navy, where they get their sea legs, while Dean croons some songs and Jerry does his usual shtick- plus the naval gags abound. Throwing their usual personas a curveball is the fact that Jerry’s character Melvin has a certain way with the ladies, that is, he has been selected to pick the most kissable girl for a contest, which has the females lining up and puckering up to plant their lips on Melvin. The cast of SAILOR BEWARE also includes Corinne Calvet, Marion Marshall, Robert Strauss, Leif Erickson, Don Wilson, Vince Edwards, plus un-credited bits from Betty Hutton and an up and coming James Dean.
Giving equal time to another branch of the military service, JUMPING JACKS has Martin and Lewis doing for the Army the same wonderful things they already did for the Navy. In JUMPING JACKS Dean and Jerry are nightclub entertainers Chick Allen and Hap Smith, whose act has been put on hold by Chick’s stint in the Army. Chick is organizing a show on a military base and wants his old partner to appear, however, when Hap pretends to be a soldier to get into the show. Chaos ensues as this "new recruit" has to extend his stint in the Army. The cast of JUMPING JACKS also features Mona Freeman, Don DeFore, Robert Strauss, Richard Erdman, Ray Teal, Marcy McGuire and Danny Arnold.
THE STOOGE is a somewhat melodramatic departure for Martin and Lewis, although there is enough comedy to keep things on the right track. Set during the 1930’s, THE STOOGE tells the story of entertainer Bill Miller (Dean), who has difficulty finding success on the vaudeville circuit until a "stooge" named Ted Rogers (Jerry) is planted in the audience to add comedy to the act. However, Ted unintentionally becomes the featured attraction, much to the disbelief of the jealous headliner. The cast of THE STOOGE also features Polly Bergen, Marion Marshall, Eddie Mayehoff, Richard Erdman and Frances Bavier.
It may not be their best film together, but SCARED STIFF is my personal favorite amongst Martin and Lewis films. A remake of THE GHOST BREAKERS, SCARED STIFF has been reworked for Dean and Jerry’s unique talents, thus Martin gets to croon some tunes, while Jerry gets to do all the terrified mugging for the camera, as well as all the best comedy bits. The plot of SCARED STIFF finds nightclub entertainer Larry Todd (Dean) running afoul of some gangsters, as well as being on the run from the law for a murder he didn’t commit. Jerry is his busboy best friend Myron Mertz, who takes it on the lamb with Larry. Lizabeth Scott is Mary Carroll, who has just inherited a haunted estate down towards Havana. Circumstances find Larry and Myron throwing in Mary, when threats are made on her life- just before she has a chance to visit her newly inherited haunted home. The cast of SCARED STIFF also features Carmen Miranda, George Dolenz, Dorothy Malone, William Ching, Paul Marion, Jack Lambert and Tony Barr.
THE CADDY is another film that finds Martin and Lewis up to their usual hijinks, with Dean singing his Oscar nominated signature song, That's Amore, along the way. The plot of THE CADDY has Jerry portraying golf instructor Harvey Miller, Jr., while Dean is his prize pupil Joe Anthony. When Joe enters and wins a small time tournament, while Harvey serving as his caddy, their relationship suffers the expected strains of the newfound success going to Joe’s head. Of course, it all works out in the end with Joe and Harvey’s partnership going in a new direction. The cast of THE CADDY also features Donna Reed, Barbara Bates, Joseph Calleia, Fred Clark, Clinton Sundberg, Howard Smith, Marshall Thompson, Marjorie Gateson, Frank Puglia, Lewis Martin, Romo Vincent and Argentina Brunetti.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made the DEAN MARTIN & JERRY LEWIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE available on DVD in 4:3 full screen transfers that presents each black and white film in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Image quality is pretty darn good across the board, sure these are not demo discs of vintage movies, but there is nothing here to complain about either. The levels of sharpness and detail are generally good, with only some mildness creeping in places. Blacks are accurate, while the whites are stable, plus the contrast is pretty smooth and the grayscale has more than respectable variation. Mild blemishes and other minor signs of age are present in each film, but it is never excessive. Additionally, all of the movies display some noticeable grain, but it never beyond acceptable levels. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
All eight movies contained in the DEAN MARTIN & JERRY LEWIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE come with Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving each soundtrack with a generally smooth sonic quality. Fidelity has all the expected limitations of recordings that are now beyond half-century mark, but the musical numbers sound more than respectable. Dialogue is crisp and has complete intelligibility. No other language tracks are provided, but English subtitles have been included. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. A trailer for THE STOOGE is the only supplement.
If you are a movie buff, or love the films Dean and Jerry made together, then the DEAN MARTIN & JERRY LEWIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE is a must have for your personal collection.
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