Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Overlooked Movies: Martin & Lewis At War with the Army

When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was already a fan of comedy teams.   I liked Abbott and Costello, and and I was fond of the Three Stooges.  Then I saw a movie called My Friend Irma, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis became my favorites.  I especially liked Jerry.  He was skinny and goofy-looking and a klutz.  I could identify all too easily.  So naturally I went to see At War with the Army, which I thought was the very soul of sophisticated wit.  Watching it again the other day, I decided that I might've been wrong, but some of it's still funny to me, and I still love "The Navy Gets the Gravy and the Army Gets the Beans."

The idea is that Dean and Jerry are in the Army during WWII.  Dean is a sergeant, and Jerry is, of course, a private.  They were friends and partners in civilian life, but now Dean is a bully and treats Jerry terribly.  There's no reason for this at all, unless it's Dean's frustration with being stuck behind a desk when he wants to be in Europe, fighting.

The movie's based on a play, and the first half is very stage-bound.  Some of the stuff is funny, and the jokes even reminded me a little of Catch-22.  Unfortunately, Jerry makes a jaw-droppingly tone deaf joke about concentration camps.  It might have gotten by in 1950, but it's really a flop now.

The second half of the movie opens things out, and if you've ever wanted to see Jerry Lewis in drag, this is your chance.  I'll bet this part cracked me up in the old days.

Dean and Jerry do a few bits together, and the best one is their impersonation of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald.  Both of them are dead on target.

I'm not 8 or 9 years old anymore, and I don't laugh at the same things now that I did when I was young, but I still got some amusement from this movie.  I'm not sure anyone else would, though.

13 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Their movies don't hold up well for me compared to Laurel and Hardy or even Abbott and Costello.

Walker Martin said...

I'm with you on Abbott and Costello and the Stooges and also Laurel and Hardy but I'm afraid I never found Jerry Lewis funny. The French love him though. Humor is so subjective...

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'd rather see Jerry clone Sammy Petrillo and Duke Mitchell in BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA.

Waaahhh!!!

Rick said...

I've always agreed with the theory that Jerry Lewis is loved by the French because his character represents exactly how they see Americans in general: loud, obnoxious, silly, stupid, and ridiculous.

I've never been much of a fan. I like Dean Martin, though.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

The first time I ever saw the Rolling Stones perform was in 1964 on the Saturday night TV show HOLLYWOOD PALACE. Dean Martin was the host, and I remember him introducing them by saying, "I once was rolled when I was stoned."

I think they sang Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away."

I miss the old days.

Max Allan Collins said...

ARTISTS AND MODELS holds up just fine. From Jerry's body of work, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, THE LADIES MAN and THE BELLBOY are classics. I write about Jerry in this week's blog, by the way.

http://www.maxallancollins.com/blog/2016/11/15/jerry-lewis/

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Found Abbott & Costello, The 3 Stooges and Jerry Lewis funny when I was a kid. Don't find any of them funny 60 years later. Jerry Lewis was the Adam Sandler of his day.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Ouch.

Damning, but somewhat accurate, Steve.

Max Allan Collins said...

Sandler never wrote and directed, and in any case has never done anything approaching THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, THE LADIES MAN, THE BELLBOY and ARTISTS AND MODELS. Martin & Lewis were incredibly funny live and their TV work generally was better than their films. I still find Abbott & Costello funny, also the Three Stooges (both Curly and Shemp). I am thrilled not to have outgrown any of it.

Bill Crider said...

Their radio and early tv appearances are great. Some of the funniest stuff I've heard or seen.

Cap'n Bob said...

I think the Jerry Lewis of today taints many people's reactions to his early work. That said, there was always something about him that turned me off, though there were some moments when I enjoyed him.

Howard said...

I was never nuts about Jerry Lewis; never quite got it, I guess. But I still like the Three Stooges. Hey, how about "Francis, the Talking Mule?"

Don Coffin said...

I've always wondered if Meatballs was inspired (in a warped, twisted way) by this movie.