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Hap Smith, nightclub entertainer, has a new act since his former partner Chick Allen joined the army: with lovely new partner Betsy Carter, Hap plays a clownish parody of a soldier. Meanwhile, Chick is organizing a soldier show at Fort Benning and finds he needs his old partner's help. To get onto the base, Hap impersonates a hapless real soldier, Dogface Dolan; but circumstances force them to prolong the masquerade, creating an increasingly tangled Army-sized snafu. Written by
During the "The Parachute Jump" number, Chick keeps missing his cue to sing the words and hold notes. See more »
There's nothing to it. You get on a plane, you go up 20,000 feet, jump out, and your chute opens automatically.
Yeah? What if it doesn't open?
Then you pull your reserve parachute.
What if that doesn't open?
Well, we haven't had a complaint yet... from a guy whose shoot didn't open.
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With more of an accent on comedy than romance, Jumping Jacks turns out to be more of a Jerry Lewis than a Dean Martin picture. Usually Dean got one or two good songs in one of their films, here he got none and didn't even bother to record any of the material written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston.
But Jerry got a ton of laughs as the former comedy partner of Dino who's been drafted into the army and is now a paratrooper. Dino's got himself a nice lush assignment there, he's got to put on a talent show and maybe get himself a permanent berth doing that sort of thing if he can only impress General Ray Teal. But the amateur talent Dino has from the army pool has its limits.
What to do but trick is hapless former partner into visiting him on the base at Fort Benning and take the place of one of the other soldiers and be in the show. It works only too well as Teal singles out Lewis and really loves the idea of the show traveling to other bases as is. Now the Airborne Rangers are stuck with Jerry Lewis.
And Dino and the rest of the guys are stuck with keeping the con up, to the extent of fooling their new sergeant Robert Strauss. Watching Strauss we get an idea of what his character the Animal must have been like before he became a prisoner at Stalag 17. He and Lewis form a curious bond.
Speaking of Stalag 17 another cast member from that great film that would be coming from Paramount a year after Jumping Jacks is Richard Erdman. Erdman if you'll remember played barracks chief Sergeant Hoffman in Billy Wilder's classic. In Jumping Jacks if Jerry Lewis is the Schlemiel, Erdman is the Schlamazel as Dogface Dolan, the soldier who Jerry takes the identity of. Erdman cuts himself in for quite a few laughs himself.
The service comedy stuff is reworked a lot from previous films, Buck Privates and Keep 'Em Flying from Abbott&Costello come to mind. The finale is straight from Keep 'Em Flying. But I do like the way Lewis distinguishes himself in the war games which has some really good moments for Jerry.
Still the weakness of Jumping Jacks is Martin is relegated almost to the side. You know that when the best number in the film is done by Mona Freeman and Jerry Lewis at the beginning, A Boy In A Uniform.
Paramount and Hal Wallis brought Dean and Jerry and the whole crew to Fort Benning, Georgia, the army's Airborne Headquarters to shoot the film. I'm sure the troops we see here who were no doubt on the way to Korea liked getting in the movies.
Jumping Jacks is a good Martin&Lewis comedy, but definitely more Lewis than Martin.
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