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ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955)

Article 2831 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 2-6-2009
Posting Date: 5-14-2009
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Featuring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine
Country: USA

An out-of-work artist finds a job at a comic book agency and uses the dreams of his roommate to help him with story ideas.

This is a so-so Lewis and Martin comedy, but I found myself wondering about just what type of movie it was and did a little musing on the subject. In some ways, it's like the Bing Crosby / Bob Hope road movies; basically, the Jerry Lewis / Dean Martin comedy team paired a singer with a comedian, both of whom would have separate careers outside of the pairing. However, it lacks the offhand casualness of the Road movies. It's also reminiscent of old-style musical comedies; like them, the story doesn't matter (nobody is really taking it very seriously here), and it seems to exist mostly for the musical numbers (some comic, some straight). The comic setpieces are rather cartoonish, which is what I'd expect from Frank Tashlin, who began his career making animated cartoons. There's also plenty of pulchritude in the movie; there's a lot of women in the cast showing off as much of their charms as the times could allow. I can see why Lewis and Martin eventually broke up the team; the partnership must have been rather limiting for them both, especially Lewis. As entertainment, it's passable enough, but, for the record, I only got one real laugh out of the movie, and that was from a comment Lewis made when he meets a mother who visits the publishing office of a comic book and tells the publisher he's responsible for her child. The movie also features an early performance by Shirley MacLaine, and, given her mystical beliefs, it's interesting to see her playing a character who embraces astrology and numerology.

Oh, and the fantastic content? It's pretty marginal; the comic book publishing setting gives us some superhero thrills by proxy, and the plot eventually turns to spies and espionage when one of Lewis's dreams reveals the first half of a formula for a new rocket fuel. However, these touches remain very minor indeed, and personally, I wouldn't qualify this movie as belonging to the fantastic genres.

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