XL Popcorn – Artists and Models

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 793/1007Title: Artists and Models
Director: Frank Tashlin
Year: 1955
Country: USA

So I am at home with the flu, which was in development as I was watching The Cool World, and pretty much everything is hurting. Even in places where I didn’t even think such aches and pains were possible. As such, it felt like the time to break out one of the less high stakes films (which is a pity, as I was hoping to see Hiroshima Mon Amour this weekend) and nothing feels more low stake than a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis musical.

Prior to seeing Artists and Models, I never realised just how prolific a duo that Martin and Lewis were. With 16 films made, I am assuming that Artists and Models made it onto the 1001 list as an exemplar of their work together. Given how I have seen Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in movies once their partnership had dissolved, it’s interesting to see what films helped both of their rises to prominence. For Martin, I appears that he was able to really capitalise on this success and then branch out into the Rat Pack and dramatic roles like in the excellent Rio Bravo. For Lewis, it would appear that he remained the physical gag man that you see here in Artists and Models.

Given that this was the 14th of 16 collaborations, it’s probably fair to assume that their roles in Artists and Models are indicative of the rest of the work. Jerry Lewis is the physical comedian and Dean Martin is the smooth love interest. They have great chemistry when together, but their scenes apart feel as if they could be taken from two separate movies.

Speaking of two movies, Artists and Models completely changes tact from being a light comedy-musical about writing comics into a weird comedy involving espionage with Eva Gabor as a honey trap. I wouldn’t be mad about it if this switch wasn’t so sudden and so unexplained. Apparently there were some scenes left on the cutting room floor that would have covered the plot holes, but instead we’re left with some confusion.

Still though, Artists and Models is a fun romp with some excellent comedy bits and an earlish role for Shirley MacLaine where she shines incredibly brightly. I think I prefer the serious Dean Martin over the generic love interest, but we got some good scenes with him in the bath and other states of undress – so it’s worth a watch when you’ve got the flu.

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