ARTISTS AND MODELS
US, 1955, 109 minutes, Colour.
Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Shirley Mac Laine, Dorothy Malone, Eddie Mayehoff, Eva Gabor, Anita Ekberg.
Directed by Frank Tashlin.
Artists and Models is one of the last of the Dean Martin- Jerry Lewis comedies. Their last, Hollywood or Bust, was also directed by Frank Tashlin.
Frank Tashlin was a cartoonist and brought this talent to many Hollywood comedies. They are very direct in their presentation of characters, events – and illustrate the comic style of many of his stars including Bob Hope in Son of Paleface, Jayne Mansfield and Cary Grant in The Girl Can’t Help It, Jerry Lewis in many of his films including Geisha Boy, Cinderfella, Who’s Minding the Store and The Disorderly Orderly and, finally, Doris Day in The Glass- Bottom Boat and Caprice.
Tashlin collaborated often with Jerry Lewis and brought out the cartoonish manic style. His character in this film is a comic book writer with a vivid imagination. These dreams come to life in a very striking way. Dean Martin, on the other hand, is as always the smooth operator, wanting to be more successful in his partner’s field, here writing comics, than he can be. He is also, of course, the romantic lead. Shirley Mac Laine appears in one of her earliest roles – she had just emerged in films with Alfred Hitchcock and The Trouble With Harry. Also in the cast are Dorothy Malone as well as Anita Ekberg and Eva Gabor.
The film is considered one of the better Martin and Lewis comedies.
1. The impact of Martin and Lewis comedies? their particular qualities and style? Was this a good example?
2. The appeal of' the duo: Dean Martin's personality, the straight leading man, his singing, the masculine type of' hero? His relationship with Jerry Lewis? The contrast with Jerry Lewis as stupid, the provider of comedy, the naive hero, the masculine/feminine ambiguity, the irony of his songs, music? The impact of their combination?
3. The film's title? use of colour and glamour, New York locations, the role of music, the placing of the songs and their contribution to atmosphere and themes?
4. The initial presentation of Rick Todd and Eugene: at home together, their bickering, their friendship, their singing together, Rick's using of Eugene? The irony of the marriage and divorce language summarising the relationship between the two?
5. How much audience sympathy for Rick? His work as an artist, searching for a job, his reaction to the comics and Eugene's dreams? His infatuation with Abbie? The secret about his drawing comics? The irony of his being involved with espionage? The importance of his songs with Eugene, with Abbie and the suntan, with the children in the street, the final artist and model song?
6.How well drawn was the character of Eugene? Jerry Lewis's particular style, the seeming childish nature and naivete of his character, his reaction to comics, his nightmares and descriptions, his infatuation with the bag lady? His songs, the phone routine of going up and down stairs, the TV interview etc.?
7. How attractive a leading lady was Abbie? The cool blonde, the artist, her disagreement with Murdock, the vindictiveness? His interview on the television, her growing infatuation with Rick, the sunbaking scene? Her disillusionment and the happy ending? Anything more than a conventional heroine?
8. The contrast with Bessie, Shirley Mac Laine and her contribution, zany style, her comedy routines especially with Eugene? The characteristics?
9. The satire in the presentation of Murdoch and his attitude towards comics, his seeming serious attitude and yet his mouthing of juvenile comic attitudes?
10. How humorous was the spy situation, the high level discussions for American government, the agents, the use of the woman agent and her becoming the bag lady? The kidnapper and the final denouement? Conventional material humorously done?
11. What conventions of the musical comedy were used and how well? Comment on some of the references for the time e.g. Rear Window, and Martin and Lewis with the Marx brothers routine about the communication of information via Harpo Marx's signs instead of words etc?