Jumping Jacks (1952)
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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.
This film finds Jerry Lewis at his most spastic and even louder than usual--making you wonder how anyone could possibly mistake him for a soldier (or human)! In addition, because of the performing angle, there are a larger than usual number of musical numbers--along with dancing and other choreography. If you like this, you're in luck. As for me, this mix created a less satisfying sort of Martin & Lewis film. Fortunately, the film was saved (somewhat) by the notion of idiot Jerry accidentally succeeding and becoming a great soldier! But to me, this isn't enough to make this anything other than a loud time-passer.
Director: NORMAN TAUROG. Screenplay: Robert Lees & Fred Rinaldo, and Herbert Baker. Additional dialogue including special material for Strauss and Lewis: James Allardice, Richard Weil. Story: Brian Marlow. Photography: Daniel L. Fapp. Supervising film editor: Warren Low. Film editor: Stanley Johnson. Art directors: Hal Pereira, Henry Bumstead. Set decorators: Sam Comer, Emile Kuri. Costumes: Edith Head. Make- up: Wally Westmore. Process photography: Farciot Edouart. Special photographic effects: Gordon Jennings. Sound recording: Don McKay, Gene Garvin. Western Electric Sound System. Producer: Hal Wallis.
Songs: "I Can't Resist a Boy in a Uniform" (Freeman and Lewis), "Do the Parachute Jump" (Martin), "Big Blue Sky" (Martin and chorus), "I Know a Dream When I See One" (Martin), "Keep a Little Dream Handy" (Martin and Lewis), "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" by Mack David and Jerry Livingston. Musical numbers staged by Robert Sidney. Music director: Joseph J. Lilley.
This film was made using the facilities and personnel of the Infantry Center, Fort Banning, Georgia, in particular the Airborne Division of the Infantry School, assisted by units of the U.S. Air Force, thanks to the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense.
Copyright 9 July 1952 by Wallis-Hazen, Inc. A Hal B. Wallis Production, released through Paramount Pictures. New York opening at the Paramount: 23 July 1952. U.S. release: July 1952. U.K. release: 3 November 1952. Australian release: 24 July 1953. Sydney opening at the Prince Edward: 24 July 1953 (ran 4 weeks). 8,612 feet. 96 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Tough sergeant is assigned to an entertainment unit. One of his men is more trouble than the rest, but comes good in the end.
COMMENT: A must for addicts of Strauss and Lewis. I must admit I'm not that fond of Jerry, but Bob is really hilarious here, making the most of his peppery dialogue with lots of eye-popping double takes and screamingly funny put-downs. Lewis often makes an admirable stooge for Strauss, but just as often he is too inclined to hog the camera. His solo segments and bits with less amusing players such as Freeman and Martin could be cut to the film's advantage.
But two support players to be retained in full are Ray Teal as an over-reactive general and especially Richard Erdman who has the role of his career here as the real but striving to be innocuous Dogface. His shaving routine with Strauss and his under-the-table sandwich act with Strauss and Lewis are the comic highlights of the picture.
After a comparatively late entrance, Martin has little to do than sing a few ballads in a couple of indifferently (and most economically) staged production numbers. Also hovering around even more so on the side-lines is Don DeFore whose role seems mostly to consist of looking daggers at Lewis from the near background.
Taurog has directed with his usual unimaginative efficiency, whilst Fapp has adopted a grainy style in order to seamlessly blend his stars' material with copious stock footage. But for all the location lensing, production values are extremely modest.
OTHER VIEWS: Martin & Lewis fans will doubtless find this quite a passable comedy, while those who can't stand the pair will indubitably give it a miss so there's not much use writing a review. However, Robert Strauss contributes a few laughs as a harassed sergeant, while Richard Erdman is perfectly cast as the innocent schnook, and there is one really hilarious sequence with Erdman under the table in a dining car. However, most fans will have seen the climax before. It's almost identical to Laurel and Hardy's routine in "Great Guns" (1941) where it was at least ten times funnier. John Howard Reid writing as George Addison.
This is one of the earlier Martin-Lewis comedies. As with most of their films, Dean's singing and their comedy routines play in the plot. So, we get a little singing and dancing along with a wacky story of sorts. After Chick (Martin) goes in the Army, Hap Smith (Lewis) finds himself a female partner for a new show. But before they can get launched in the big time, Chick calls for help that only Hap can provide. So, he sneaks on base to help with a show for the troops.
Well, it's not hard to imagine what happens from there on. The base is a fictitious one, of course, but for this one Paramount did some film shooting at Ft. Benning, GA, and the Army parachute school.
While this and similar films still bring a chuckle here and there, they don't seem as funny as they must have been to audiences in the mid- 20th century. I remember watching these in theaters as a youngster. Slapstick can still be good and very funny, but I think the comedy with actors completely changing their voices was a phase from that period that hasn't lasted.
This film is OK for some laughs and the music and comedy. The rest of the cast provide nice support for the two leads.
Dean has a couple of good numbers. "The Parachute Jump" didn't rate a Capitol recording, but it's a nice production number and Dean does it well (and why wasn't it recorded on Capitol? It's not a love song!). Similarly, "The Big Blue Sky" is another militarily-themed production number, not suitable for a Capitol release, but features a rather nice vocal performance by Dean. "I Know A Dream When I See One" is a more traditional love song by Dean. And "Keep A Little Dream Handy" is a nice Martin & Lewis duet.
Both Dean and Jerry pretty much follow their film traditions here. Dean is clearly the straight man, while Jerry does far too much mugging. Robert Strauss was probably born to play an army sergeant, and he's entertaining to watch. Other supporting actors include Don DeFore (9 years before his best known role in television's "Hazel"). It's nice to see Ray Teal, so often a supporting actor in Westerns (and in "Bonanza" as the sheriff).
Parts of the movie were filmed at Fort Benning in Georgia, and you can learn a bit about paratroopers and their training in the somewhat silly film action. All in all, a decent film comedy, though probably more for the audiences of the early 50s than today.