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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Comedy Teams > TV > Compilation > Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis Collection Boxed Set

The Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection (Passport)


                                                        Picture:     Sound:     Extras:     Program:

At War With The Army (1940)                C              C+            D              C+

Colgate Comedy Hour shows                C              C              D              C+

At the Movies with Martin & Lewis        C+             C+            D              C+



The last great comedy team of the Classical Hollywood era was Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Unlike Abbott & Costello, and Laurel & Hardy, they survived in the world of big-screen and full color filmmaking.  They started the latest and also had the best success on television.  Even after they split, they were still hot, a rarity for comedy teams in any era.  The Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection captures a wide variety of their work, including their Colgate Comedy Hour, which was far more of a variety show than anything their contemporaries were doing at the time.


First, however, it’s the film that brought them together, the Military Comedy At War With The Army, which was made at their longtime cinematic home of Paramount Pictures.  It has its following, but is not that great a film, though the Coca Cola gag with Lewis, where the machine will not stop pumping out 6 oz. bottles, was forever shattered by the darker response in Stanley Kubrick’s 1965 masterpiece Dr. Strangelove.  The film is still a key picture of its kind, but just has not aged well.


Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin had some of their earliest TV experience with The Colgate Comedy Hour (their sections dubbed The Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Show) long before their breakthrough work on All in the Family and its spin-offs.  The earlier shows had choreography by no less than Bob Fosse, while the latter shows offered the talents of Nick Castle.  The shows would be split between dance sequences, comedy skits, and music numbers often featuring the incredible voice of Martin.  Those would often have dance numbers laced in.  This makes these shows choppier and sometimes more awkward than wanted, yet it was this free-style that matched Lewis’ zaniness and Martin’s soon-to-be-Rat-Pack lifestyle image.


They were so popular that DC Comics actually launched a comic book of their exploits that they even plug the comic (Issue #6) during a skit.  The seven episodes of their Colgate Comedy Hour are as follows:


1)     Polly Bergen, best known now for the original Cape Fear, guest stars with dancer Mary Ann Niles and in-house dancer/choreographer Fosse.

2)     Ray Malone, Connie Russell and Danny Arnold (later the creator of Barney Miller and Joe Bash) star.

3)     Arnold returns with Donald McBride, Marion Marshall, Bob & Eddie Mayo and Dorothy Dandridge in a brilliant singing performance make this one of the best shows in the set.

4)     Helen O’Connell joins Niles, Fosse and the boys.

5)     Jack Benny (as Phil Abrams for much of the show), Vera Miles (best known from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho soon after), Sylvia Hickey and a larger cast than usual make this a fascinating installment.

6)     Ray Malone returns with Mike Mazurki and Margaret Dumont.

7)     Dick Humphreys, Gretchen Houser, and a show-stopping conclusion with the high energy band The Treniers joined by Martin & Lewis make this the other top show in the set; one to end with.


The great trailers collection, dubbed At the Movies, features most of their films together.  The following nine films featured are:


The Caddy

Hollywood or Bust (a big VistaVision comedy that was their final joint film)

Jumping Jacks

Living it Up (a Nothing Sacred remake)

Pardners (a VistaVision remake of Rhythm on the Range)

Sailor Beware (a remake of The Fleet’s In)

Scared Stiff (a remake of Ghost Breakers, the Bob Hope film)

3 Ring Circus (in VistaVision)

You’re Never Too Young (a VistaVision remake of The Major & The Minor)


Sadly, their 3-D film Money From Home (1953) and Artists and Models, their 1955 comedy that is one of their best and the only one of the five VistaVision films not represented here are missing.  For Paramount to put out that kind of money for those films says something about how much money their films were making.  Lewis did five additional VistaVision Comedy productions as lead actor before launching his directing career and invented the television video assist all feature film productions use today.  It is too bad those trailers and some of Martin solo were not thrown in.


They are listed in alphabetical order because that is the way they have been edited together.  Later after they split, everyone knows it was thought Martin would not survive.  Instead, while Lewis established his Muscular Dystrophy telethon, Martin landed up with a TV variety show so huge, he became the biggest stockholder in NBC-owner RCA.  He also a huge new run of hits at Frank Sinatra’s new Reprise Records label, a few hit films with Sinatra and The Rat Pack, and additional hit films on his own.  Lewis became a groundbreaking Comedy genre writer/director, and also did more challenging films later on.  This box gives a good overall perspective to their careers from start to finish, if missing a full anthology of their work altogether.  Now when will Paramount issue those films?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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