SCARED STIFF (director: George Marshall; screenwriters: Norm Lear,Ed Simmons , Harbert Baker , Walter de Leon/based on the play by Paul Dickey & Charles W. Goddard; cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo; editor: Walter Low; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Jerry Lewis (Myron Mertz), Dean Martin (Larry Todd), Lizabeth Scott (Mary Carroll), Dorothy Malone (Rosie), Carmen Miranda (Carmelita Castina), George Dolenz (Cortega), William Ching (Tony Warren), Paul Marrion (Ramon/Francisco Castillo), Leonard Strong (Shorty), Henry Brandon (Pierre), Belle Mitchell (Zombie’s mom), Jack Lambert (Zombie), Anthony Barr (Trigger), Frank Fontaine (Drunk), Bob Hope (Himself, Skeleton), Bing Crosby (Himself, Skeleton); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Wallis; Paramount; 1953)
“This was the ninth time Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis teamed together, and is one of their better slapstick comedies.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The b/w remake of the 1940 Bob Hope-Paulette Goddard vehicle The Ghost Breakers, that was also directed by George Marshall (“Dark Purpose”/”Advance to the Rear”). The 1940 talkie was a remake of a play that had been twice filmed during the silent era (1914 and 1922). This was the ninth time Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis teamed together, and is one of their better slapstick comedies. It’s based on the play by Paul Dickey & Charles W. Goddard, and is written by Norm Lear, Ed Simmons, Harbert Bakerand Walter de Leon. The handsome Larry Todd (Dean Martin) is a womanizing nightclub singer in NYC. His friend is the klutzy Myron Mertz (Jerry Lewis), who works in the club as a busboy. When the waiter Pierre (Henry Brandon) is removed from the club by gangster Trigger (Anthony Barr) and is taken to his mob boss Shorty’s (Leonard Strong) hotel room, he is slain for messing with Shorty’s club chorus girlfriend Rosie (Dorothy Malone). Since Larry also has been messing around with Rosie, Myron shows his friendship to Larry as he goes to the hotel to warn Shorty to leave Larry alone. The gang sneer at him and threaten to kill him. But Larry comes to rescue his pal and runs into a shootout between the estate lawyer Cortega (George Dolentz) and a mystery man called Ramon ( Paul Marrion), who called a heiress and warned her not to sell. Ramon is slain outside the door of the beautiful heiress, Mary Carroll (Lizabeth Scott), who inherited Lost Island, off the coast of Havana, from her grandfather. Mary’s good news prompts a buyout offer and a sinister warning about the haunted castle on the island, but does not discourage her from sailing there that night. The gun shot scared off Shorty’s gang, allowing Myron to escape. He reunites with Larry in Mary’s room, and the three befriend each other to sail together to her island. The Brazilian entertainer Carmen Miranda performs on the voyage, while Mary runs into an old friend from the past, Tony Warren (William Ching), who lives in Cuba. In the film’s last quarter the trio finally reach the spooky castle, where an old lady (Belle Mitchell) sics her zombie son (Jack Lambert) on them. The trio evade the zombie and search for a hidden treasure, while danger lurks via both supernatural and sinister human figures. I usually can’t tolerate the silly antics of Lewis, but this Old Dark House film held together better than most of the comic’s popular comedies.
REVIEWED ON 9/22/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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