Was It The Martin and Lewis Story?
Dean and Jerry Being Themselves in The Stooge (1952)
A Martin and Lewis done almost two years before its release, a delay caused by --- what? There's been suggestion that producer Hal Wallis was discomfited by subject matter, Dean being a heel to doormat Jerry and far less laughs than had been case with initial M&L's. If The Stooge got under skin, it might have been Jerry's, his title character desperate throughout to please an indifferent Dean. Was this by most accounts, including Lewis' own, how things were offscreen? Dean plays parts of The Stooge like a noir anti-hero. I wonder if he ever passed Burt Lancaster or Charlton Heston in Wallis hallways and wondered why he couldn't do the straight and rugged stuff. Anything off-formula was figured to shake limbs, and Wallis had overseen enough series to know folly in that. What was difference to his mind between Dean/Jerry and Joe E. Browns turned out wholesale at Warner Bros. while Wallis ran production there in the 30's? Martin and Lewis would have looked to be a fad with four or maybe five years to maximize output, never mind merit, and harvest whatever there'd be of coin before novelty and interest flagged.
Jerry Lewis complained that Wallis had no head for comedy and I can imagine Hal wondering what point the performer was trying to make. Here was rush on a finite vein of gold, as Dean Martin might also have sensed. Could that be why he took money and ran to golf courses? Lewis had Chaplinesque designs and would eventually upset a golden apple cart. I wish an alternate history could tell us how much longer M&L might have lasted as a team had the 1956 break-up not occurred. The Stooge came at peak of a public's engagement. For young folk, especially boys, Martin and Lewis were a happier discovery than even Abbott and Costello had been. What is laborious in The Stooge are routines Jerry does sans Dean, like a lunch counter exchange or business with a squirting sink in a train compartment. Lewis relied mostly on two expressions: manic and pouty. He's likeable with neither to my thinking. At least there's curiosity for Lewis pics with Martin; when Jerry became the whole show, it was every viewer for him/herself.