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First of all, if you're considering watching a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis
picture, you must be aware of the fact that it is mainly slapstick
comedy. If you can't laugh at a drunk guy slapping Jerry Lewis in the
face, then this movie isn't for you.
With that being said, this movie has an interesting story line. Lewis and Martin are friends and when Martin gets in trouble with Shorty, a mob-type guy, Lewis goes to defend him. This leads to an accidental shooting that Martin gets blamed for and when he goes to hide, he meets Mary, who inherited a haunted island from her father. Martin and Lewis end up going with Mary and figure out the mystery of Lost Island.
Although the plot jumps around a lot, watching Martin and Lewis is always enjoyable and there are many funny situations in this movie. If you're a fan of slapstick, this movie is for you.
I know its now the 22nd of May 2006, but this film sticks in my memory. I first saw the great Comedy team Dean & Jerry way back in 1953 and this was the film I watched one rainy afternoon in a town called Walsall in Staffordshire, England. I was playing truant from school actually. But I remember laughing so much at Jerry Lewis that I was almost weeping. The film is a re-make of the Bob Hope vehicle The Ghost Breakers (1940) and even uses the same sets. The antics of the two are brilliant, and the business they work together is truly UNIQUE. I think that Jerry and Dean were the funniest of the teams of that era. I suppose that's why they were the highest paid duo in the world! Jerry wrote a lot of the visual gags, the scene where he is stuck in the trunk, and comes out doubled over, and the scenes in the Haunted castle with Jack Lambert as THE ZOMBIE likewise brilliant. Dean was a great foil for Jerry and Jerry was a great stooge for Dean. As I write Dean has gone, but Jerry is still with us at 80 years of age. Superb Film, superb and clean comedy. I recommend SCARED STIFF to you all.
This is my 2nd favorite Martin & Lewis film, after Sailor Beware. It's
stock full of some of their best routines, and co-starring Lizabeth
Scott & the legendary Carmen Miranda only add to this Classic! Bob Hope
& Paulette Goddard made the original in 1941 & truly,Ghostbreakers did
not need to be remade, so they changed some of the story around &
created quite a kick butt musical. Although I miss Willie Best, who is
always a treat in the original.
But Dean & Jerry make this one for the ages with their stage act brought to screen, as Jerry plays a waiter who accidentally spills spaghetti on a patron, and gets side swiped into performing on stage with Dean, those 3 to 5 minutes are absolutely HILARIOUS! I never got to see Dean & Jerry live as I am only 43 yrs. old, but if this scene was any reflection of their live act, it had to be awesome.
Most of the movie follows the exact same pattern as Ghostbreakers, but Dean & Jerry add much flavor as does Ms. Scott, and the musical routines with Carmen Miranda are perfect! If you want to be entertained watch this movie!
I'm a Jerry Lewis fan and I think Bob Hope's «The Ghost Breakers»
(1940) was technically way ahead of its time as a funny/scary Old Dark
House comedy. This thirteen-years-later remake feels like it was
hatched together as a quickie Martin-Lewis vehicle in the «scary» mode
(they made four films that year). It reuses the same director (George
Marshall), most of the dialogue, most of the situations, most of the
special effects, all the stock footage and even one song from the
original. The sets have also been recreated and the jokes «updated». If
the remake works at all, it is due to the extreme quality and
originality of the first film. Comedy writer Norman Lear (of TV fame)
did his best in adapting the Bob Hope/Willie Best routine to the
particular talents of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Where the story starts to creak though is in the scary scenes. They have lost their suspense and mystery and that undefinable mix of editing, timing, lighting, photography, acting, pacing and music called «atmosphere», which «The Ghost Breakers» had in spades.
The casting is also lacking: Lizabeth Scott is no Paulette Goddard. She may look good in a bathing suit but her comedy is stilted, her romantic moods are too entranced and her dramatics don't convince. William Ching is no Richard Carlson, Paul Marion is no Anthony Quinn and George Dolenz is no Paul Lukas either. The zombie character is also a special disappointment all its own. Out of a misguided sense of political correctness, the original Black zombie (Noble Johnson) has been replaced by a nondescript White (!) cowboy villain (!!) (Jack Lambert) who actually looks like an ordinary Joe (!!!) without makeup (!!!!) from a distance. His entrance actually causes crickets to start chirping.
All in all, I appreciate this film as a kind of homage to the original, for its numerous Jerry Lewis set pieces, in which he exhibits a supreme self-confidence, and for the Dean Martin songs - despite the near-obscenity of the «Enchilada Man» number (you can imagine but don't ask!)... The less said about the Carmen Miranda numbers the better (this was her last film).
Larry Todd (Dean Martin), and Myron Mertz (Jerry Lewis) run a foul of
gangster "Shorty" and are forced to flee the hotel when suspicion of
murder falls on Larry. Hooking up with heiress Mary Carroll (Lizabeth
Scott) who is sailing for Cuba, the guys find that Cuba is one
mysterious place, full of weird goings on and Zombies!
Scared Stiff was Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' ninth picture, a remake of Paramount's 1940 comedy spooker, The Ghost Breakers that starred Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, it's also directed by the same man, George Marshall. Though both Lewis and Martin are on record as saying they didn't want to remake The Ghost Breakers since the Hope movie was fine the way it is. The guys were bound to do it by their Paramount contract, and thus producer Hal B. Wallis, rightly assuming that it was viable material for the duo, got the film made.
In the pantheon of Martin/Lewis films, Scared Stiff ranks as one of the better efforts that the guys did. Larks and songs and a Carmen Miranda cameo make up the main body of Scared Stiff. Standard slap-stick to none fans of the intrepid duo, but essential viewing for those that have a kink for such shenanigans. From a ventriloquist dummy skit to Lewis' delightful take on Miranda, and containing an hilarious sequence with Jerry stuck in a trunk, there's enough guffaws to keep the grin on ones face. Fans of the singing side of Deano are however short changed here, and there is no getting away from the fact that Scared Stiff is ultimately a rushed cash in job. So with that in mind newcomers to the pair are advised to possibly give the film a miss and head for the likes of Artists And Models and Hollywood or Bust instead. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must admit in advance that I'm a big fan of Dean Martin, and I find
several of the Martin & Lewis films to be classic for their genre and
era. But this is one of my favorites of their 17 films -- one of their
5 best. Now those who look down on this a bit because it was a remake
of a Bob Hope version a decade earlier -- keep in mind that the same
basic plot had been used a couple of times in the silent era, so the
Hope version (which is good) is hardly the original.
Dean is first up in this film with a rather snappy version of "I Don't' Care If The Sun Don't Shine", which sounds like a very old song, but its hit version was done by Patti Page just 3 years earlier. And, for change, Jerry Lewis isn't up first. But he's up then, and unfortunately obliterates what might have been another good Dean Martin number -- "You Hit The Spot". But it does give Dean and Jerry a chance to do a good schtick together about a jealous husband (with the help of Dorothy Malone). Then there's some good comedic suspense in the hotel, before the action moves to the dock. Here you'll see an early appearance by Frank Fontaine as -- what else -- a drunk. Then, on board ship, and after a really dumb number with Dean, Jerry, and Carmen Miranda, Dean has a more serious love song ("When Someone Thinks You're Wonderful"). Once in Cuba there's a musical segment in a nightclub. What could be worse than a number by Carmen Miranda? Jerry Lewis mouthing to a Carmen Miranda record. But then there's a fairly nice production number ("The Enchilada Man") that nicely combines the talents of Dean, Jerry, and Carmen; at least it has a little heart. And then off to the haunted island. It's clever, and funny. And it's a kick with a brief cameo by Hope and Crosby (after all, it's a Paramount picture).
One of the real treats of this film is Dean's love interest -- Lizabeth Scott. She's a standout...sultry, but here also funny.
Some of the Martin & Lewis films are Jerry's (such as "Three Ring Circus"). Others are fairly well balanced (such as "Living It Up"). But this one is really more Dean's. Think not? Subtract the scenes where Jerry is simply making faces. Subtract the scenes where he's just screaming. Subtract the scenes where he's singing in a screeching voice. There's not much of Jerry left. In my view, not really a single standout comedy scene that focuses on Jerry. And while I'm a Dino fan, Jerry could be a very funny guy...but not so much here.
I recommend this as one of the better of the Martin & Lewis films. In fact, it's the film where I feel Dean and Jerry real come into their own, and the first of a series of top-notch comedies. It's on my DVD shelf!
A decade and a half earlier, Bob Hope made "Ghostbreakers"--an amiable
little comedy. Now with "Scared Stiff" Martin & Lewis take their stab
at remaking the film. As usual, Dean plays a lounge singer, Larry,
though his character isn't the usual selfish guy he often played in
their films. Jerry plays Myron, a clumsy (what else?) waiter. The pair
end up running away from the nightclub where they work for two big
reasons--Rosie (Dorothy Malone) keeps making eyes at Larry and her
boyfriend is the VERY jealous and dangerous sort AND Larry thinks that
he's killed a man! While on the run, they meet up with nice girl Mary
(Lizabeth Scott) and they accompany her to an island she just
inherited--Lost Island which is off the Cuban coast. Naturally, the
place is supposedly haunted and zombies muck about the place.
This one works better than most Martin & Lewis films because horror is a very good theme for comedians of the day. In addition to Hope's "Ghostbreakers", Abbott & Costello had their best film with "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein"....and their other horror outings were better than average. An amiable film worth your time and a decent match to the team's talents.
Just rewatched this Martin & Lewis movie on YouTube. In this one, Dean & Jerry somehow get mixed up with some gangsters and a lady named Mary (Lizabeth Scott). I'll stop there and just say this was the funniest of them I've seen yet which is probably due to the fact that one of the writers was Norman Lear-later the creator of the legendary TV show "All in the Family" but at the time a writer for the team on "The Colgate Comedy Hour"-who was partnered with Ed Simmons at the time. Also appearing is Carmen Miranda basically playing herself though under another name. She's entertaining as always whether by herself or performing with the boys. This turned out to be her last feature film performance. By the way, Ms. Scott isn't the only woman who Dean romances here. Dorothy Malone appears at the beginning as a sexy moll who likes to play around. What a looker! There's also a hilarious drunk man played by Frank Fontaine who bothers Jerry. One more notable appearance is that of Henry Brandon-best known as the villain in Laurel & Hardy's Babes in Toyland-playing someone named Pierre. Actually, there's two more players worth mentioning but since they're meant to be surprises, I'll just say watch the movie if you want to find out...P.S. This was the first time on film that Jerry says, "I like it! I like it!" and Dean first mentions his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio. And Ms. Malone is another player from my birthtown of Chicago, Ill.
Paramount once again rehashes another of their old hits for Martin and
Lewis in Scared Stiff. In one respect Scared Stiff is an improvement
over The Ghostbreakers that starred Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard back
in the day. At least in this one Willie Best is not playing a horrible
Other than that and to accommodate Best's role for Jerry Lewis and Hope's role for Dean Martin, it's not too much different from The Ghostbreakers. I have no doubt that producer Hal Wallis dug some of the old Paramount sets for the original out of mothballs for this one. The castle where the last twenty minutes are played looks way too much like the first film to be a duplicate.
Dino got shortchanged in the vocal department, the original songs by Mack David and Jerry Livingston yielded no hits for him. Jerry does a homage to Carmen Miranda who was around on the set to see it. This film marked her farewell screen appearance and I give her credit in that she doesn't let Martin and Lewis upstage her one bit.
Dorothy Malone had a small role as a chorus cutie and favorite of gangster Leonard Strong who was the reason why Dean and Jerry were fleeing to Cuba and got mixed up in Lizabeth Scott's troubles. Malone mentioned that she had recently lost a brother and that Dean personally asked she be cast in the part and helped her through the film. She always remembered his kindness. She also said that Dean and Jerry seemed to be quite cool to each other and the eventual breakup was no surprise to her.
The boys were lucky to have George Marshall who had directed The Ghostbreakers back in the day to also direct this one. If you liked the Bob Hope film, you'll probably like this one.
It even has an unbilled appearance of Bob Hope with another guy who sang a few songs for Paramount back in the day.
As someone who loves Dean Martin's voice, and always have done, and who
finds Jerry Lewis entertaining 'Scared Stiff' intrigued. It was enough
for me to see with just one of them, but it's even more so with them
'Scared Stiff' has garnered comparisons to 'The Ghost Breakers', the general consensus being that it's inferior to that film. It is agreed that 'The Ghost Breakers' is the better film, funnier, scarier and combines those two elements together a little more strongly. This said, 'Scared Stiff' in no way disgraces it and works well on its own two feet too.
The story does jump around a little, with the shift to the darker and scarier elements slightly abrupt (emphasis on the slightly) and creaks in some parts. As alluring as Lizabeth Scott is, she is also a rather bland presence, not looking entirely comfortable in comedy or romance. The production values, apart from some very atmospheric sets, do betray a rushed production and that it was made in haste.
Conversely, 'Scared Stiff' has many positive elements. Regarding the songs, while not classics or ones that will necessarily stand the test of time, they are still pleasant enough and suit Martin's wonderful singing talents and Carmen Miranda's unique stage presence and such well.
George Marshall's direction is nifty and he and the nicely crafted script neatly combine genuinely funny comedy and suitably eerie and suspenseful chills. Miranda, in her final film, lives up to her nickname as "The Brazilian Bombshell", even if she has been much better before with material that adds more to the story than 'Scared Stiff' does.
Martin and Lewis are a very well matched double act, their talents well-utilised and contrast with each other deftly. Martin effectively plays it straight against Lewis' very kinetic energy (Lewis' impersonation of Miranda is not particularly good but still pretty hilarious, and his scene with Frank Fontaine is a scream).
In conclusion, a fun film that has made be interested in more of Martin/Lewis collaborations. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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