Hollywood or Bust (1956)

“Okay, Hollywood — here we come!”

An in-debt gambler (Dean Martin) cons his way into winning a convertible, hoping to sell it and pay his bookie off — but he must share his prize with the real winner, a nerdy movie buff (Jerry Lewis) whose goal in life is to travel to Hollywood and win the heart of Anita Ekberg.


Frank Tashlin directed this final outing by comedic partners Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who at this point in their joint career had reached a notorious crisis point (Lewis actually claims he’s never seen this movie, given the negative memories it evokes for him.) Peary labels it a “personal recommendation” in the back of his book, and it was a favorite of Truffaut — but while there are occasional moments of inspired hilarity (an early hold-up by a deceptively innocent hitch-hiker; Lewis “feeling lucky” and winning oodles of money at a craps table), it’s ultimately — like the rest of the Lewis and Martin films I’ve seen so far — a mixed comedic bag, one which eventually wears out its welcome. The film’s most inspired moment — pure Tashlin — comes fairly early, when the duo are driving through the countryside, singing, and see sexy dames every which way who represent the joys of “country living”; it’s truly surreal, and worth the price of a rental alone.

P.S. Redheaded Pat Crowley (who I’d never seen before) is a refreshingly wholesome presence as Martin’s romantic lead; why didn’t her silver screen career go any further?

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • The surreal “day in the country” musical sequence

  • Pat Crowley as Terry Roberts
  • Random moments of inspired humor

Must See?
No. Listed as a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One Response to “Hollywood or Bust (1956)”

  1. More or less a total snooze. A very Technicolor road movie that nevertheless manages to be almost completely colorless.

    Director Tashlin desperately does what he can – which amounts to very little, trapped as he is by the witless screenplay: yes, the unexpected hitchhiker is good for a laugh; the Native American sexpot spices up things; and I do like the Great Dane (who gives the best performance) going gaga for the poodle.

    But none of that is meant as recommendation. This is actually a pretty bad flick. Lewis’ shtick wears thin (as is so often the case); Martin is, again, suave to no real avail. We’re ultimately talking wash-out here. (And the songs are horrible.)

    Yes, Patricia Crowley (in a rather nothing role) is cute. I remember her coming off to much better advantage in the tv series version of ‘Please Don’t Eat The Daisies’.

    A favorite of Truffaut? That’s troublesome in itself.

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