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HOOK, LINE AND SINKER (director: George Marshall; screenwriters: Rod Amateau/story by Rod Amateau and David Davis; cinematographer: W. Wallace Kelley; editor: Russel Wiles; music: Dick Stabile; cast: Jerry Lewis (Peter Ingersoll), Peter Lawford (Dr. Scott Carter), Anne Francis (Nancy Ingersoll), Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (Perfecto), Jimmy Miller (Jimmy Ingersoll), Jennifer Edwards (Jennifer Ingersoll), Kathleen Freeman (Mrs. Hardtack – Baby Sitter), Phillip Pine (Head Surgeon); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: G; producer: Jerry Lewis; Columbia; 1969)
“Fit only for worms.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jerry Lewis comedy targeted for adults falls flat on its face, with a plot that a Preston Sturges or Howard Hawks might have done wonders with but in the hands of the tired 78-year-old George Marshall (“Destry Rides Again”/”You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man”/”The Blue Dahlia”) becomes a fishy comedy fit only for worms. It’s based on a story by Rod Amateau and David Davis.

Depressed California suburbanite family man and insurance salesman Peter Ingersoll (Jerry Lewis) is told by his trusted family doctor Dr. Scott Carter (Peter Lawford) that he has a weak heart and only a short time to live. Peter doesn’t get a second opinion, even though he’s in the insurance business and knows that’s automatic in such cases. His ideal wife Nancy (Anne Francis) convinces the dying man to go on a fun trip around the world and go fishing–the only thing he enjoys doing. Peter runs up $100,000 on his credit cards, but then Dr. Carter tracks him down in Lisbon to tell him he’s not terminally ill. The sly doctor then tells Peter to fake his death, which will allow his wife to collect on his $150,000 life insurance policy. The scheme calls for Peter to keep out of sight for seven years until the statute of limitations runs out so he can return to his family. The catch is that this plot was cooked up by Nancy and Carter to get Peter out of the way and for them to run off together with the insurance money.

The film failed miserably as comedy or in its attempt to be an adventure tale like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Jerry while on-the-run uses the name Fred Dobbs, Bogie’s handle in the 1948 classic) or as one of those James M. Cain novels made into a mystery noir film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”