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Even at the start of his singing career, Dean Martin is an impressive gentleman, big, tall, handsome, exquisitely dressed, fitting his nightingale voice and naturally classy appeal, even though his womanizing costs him enough in alimony to declare bankruptcy. Jerry Lewis on the other hand is an unsightly schmuck, whose buffoon version of stand-up comedy is an agent's nightmare. When he accepts playing MC in a show with Dean, he tries interacting with him, and they hit gold judging by the audience's reactions. Initially Dean wants to walk off and stay a solo act, but success as a duo is irresistible, and they rocket together, even in Hollywood. However in time they fall out of friendship as their characters and lifestyle clash, and Dean still dreams of solo success. Written by
Save for a slight alteration of a fact in the genesis of the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis saga, this made-for-television bio-pic is perfect in its story and depictions. The alteration concerns how the duo got together for what would be the triggering of their memorable 10-year partnership. The film shows Lewis, about to bomb himself out of his engagement at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, phoning Martin's (first) agent, Lou Perry. Lewis specifically asks him to send Dean to reprise their earlier-shown, spur-of-the-moment, stage collaboration (at the Havana-Madrid Club). In reality, it was the compassionate Perry who, upon receiving a frantic call from a sobbing Jerry Lewis asking for help, decides to send Dean Martin to the rescue. The result correctly is shown to be alchemic, and, for at first better-then-worse, the Martin and Lewis team is truly born. In 1973, Arthur Marx penned an outstanding bio-novel about the duo, "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime." As Marx, the writers/producers of this film are admirably unafraid to present full character profiles of Martin and Lewis. As human beings, the performers sometimes glaringly left much to be desired. Jeremy Northam and Sean Hayes, as Dean and Jerry, give excellent performances, as do Paula Gale and Kate Levering as Martin's first and second wives, Betty and Jeanne. This is a first-rate production, not the least of its values is its capturing of the post-war cultural flavor of the period in which the Martin and Lewis tandem flourished.
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