Nightclub comic Hap Smith assumes the identity of another soldier so he can tour army bases in a revue with his ex-partner Chuck Allen.Nightclub comic Hap Smith assumes the identity of another soldier so he can tour army bases in a revue with his ex-partner Chuck Allen.Nightclub comic Hap Smith assumes the identity of another soldier so he can tour army bases in a revue with his ex-partner Chuck Allen.
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.
- Oct 24, 2008