Has a few funny bits, but overall a mess and one of my least favorite Tashlins.
I’ve talked about the gender politics of his films in a lot of my Tashlin write ups. Here we get maybe the most overt handling of these themes, but still in a very complex/muddy way that makes it not entirely clear what the film is trying to get across. I wish someone would have shown more interest in this side of his work when he was alive so he could have elaborated on it. Right now this film feels down right feminist, but compromised and I want to know if that was studio pressure, intentional, what.
Jerry Lewis is fun, I laugh at his movies. His early stuff with Tashlin is a best of both worlds, but at a certain point you wish Tashlin had let Jerry go alone earlier as you can feel what was once inventive getting repeated into the ground. Again, this is a good time, but nothing more, and that alone is a shame from both of these guys.
The songs are pretty lame and Dean Martin does his best to ruin this movie, but it still comes out great. Tashlin is at top form, Jerry Lewis broke me up almost whenever he was on screen, and Shirley MacLaine helps you forget about the main love story even more.
The best scene has to be Maclaine’s one song later in the film. Her at turns attractive and ridiculous use of a set of stairs to perform weird gymnastics/dancing and Lewis’ wonderfully aloof portrayal and great timing… This is what Hollywood films should be and if the comedies filling the theater now had any idea how to make me actually laugh I would be there in a heartbeat.
Super fun, as usual for Tashlin, but odd in it’s possible message. The film clearly wants to give a more complex portrayal to “the girl” and yet is fine using her for titillation. maybe that adds to the complexity? I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I think it could have gone from a cute film to a amazing film if it would have backed up these darker ideas, both the gender stuff and the danger of the mob boss, which mostly felt too goofy. Is it weird to want to turn this film a little bit more tragic? It seems like it’s all there already.
Also I imagine the music is a big draw, but it was oddly integrated and again formed an uncomfortable juxtaposition. Featuring people like Abbey Lincoln, who I guess I have a more serious image of than the pop showcase against silly hubbah hubbah antics was weird. Still I enjoyed the movie a lot and it has stuck with me.