HOLLYWOOD OR BUST (director: Frank Tashlin; screenwriter: Erna Lazarus; cinematographer: Daniel L. Fapp; editor: Howard A. Smith; music: Sammy Fain/Paul Webster; cast: Dean Martin (Steve Wiley), Jerry Lewis (Malcolm Smith), Anita Ekberg (Herself), Pat Crowley (Terry), “Slapsie Maxie” Rosenbloom (Bookie Benny), Ben Welden (Boss); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Wallis; Paramount; 1956)
“Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis team up for the last time (aw shucks!).“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis team up for the last time (aw shucks!) in one of their trademark comedies. It’s one of their better efforts, which only means that it’s watchable. Lewis is a nerdy retard who is a film fan freaked out over Anita Ekberg, while Martin is a failed crooner and a gambler on a losing streak. When they both win as a prize a Cadillac convertible, they are forced by circumstances to become partners as they go cross-country to Hollywood: Lewis takes along his Great Dane, Mr. Bascomb, for protection and is off to hopefully meet Anita, while Martin is running away from his gambling debts. They give a ride to pretty hitch-hiker Pat Crowley, as the gags take pop shots at America’s road culture during the 1950s.
The busty Anita serves as a substitute for the bust part of the clever title (though Truffault as a film critic points out it also refers to financial ruin on Martin’s part), which is about as deep as the jokes get in this dopey comedy.
Once in Hollywood the film turns from a road film back to a buddy film and a soft satire of Hollywood. I enjoyed best the scene where the boys parody War and Peace, which Paramount was making at the time with Anita.
The capable director, Frank Tashlin, supposedly had problems with the tempestuous Lewis during the shoot and had to throw him off the set until he cooled down. In any case the film worked more or less and if you ever care to see a Martin and Lewis comedy, this one’s as good as any of theirs (though Tashlin’s 1955 Artists and Models, the first one he shot with the duo, is considered by most critics the best one they ever did).
REVIEWED ON 1/22/2004 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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