Sad Sack, The (1957)

“If we can make a soldier out of a man with that kind of a record, it will pave the way for the Bixbys of tomorrow.”

Synopsis:
An army psychologist (Phyllis Kirk) tasks two servicemen (David Wayne and Joe Mantell) with helping a physically inept soldier (Jerry Lewis) to pass basic training. When she discovers Bixby (Lewis) has a photographic memory, she sends him on a secret mission to Morocco, where he falls in love with a beautiful nightclub dancer (Liliane Montevecchi).

Genres:

Review:
Based on a beloved WWII-era comic book series by George Baker, this was Jerry Lewis’s second solo feature after breaking with his longtime partner, Dean Martin. I’m honestly not sure why Peary includes it in his book, given that absolutely nothing about it stands out as particularly noteworthy, and in general it’s simply a real mess. Lewis plays yet another variation on his typically bumbling self, though in this case he also happens to be a savant of sorts, with a photographic memory and the ability to utilize said memory to grapple with complex mechanical concerns — thus leading to the film’s “exotic” second half, taking place in a sound-stage simulation of Morocco where Peter Lorre truly embarrasses himself in a demeaning bit role as an Arab baddie. Meanwhile, feeble attempts at anti-feminist humor are doused liberally throughout, primarily at the expense of poor Kirk, whose romantic attraction to Wayne is surely one of the least convincing couplings ever attempted. I suppose fans of the comic book series might be curious to see how its central protagonist is transformed into a flesh-and-blood character — but I doubt they’ll be very pleased.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
I can’t really think of anything at the moment.

Must See?
No; this one is definitely only must-see for Jerry Lewis fans.

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One Response to “Sad Sack, The (1957)”

  1. Not a must.

    I wouldn’t call it a “mess” (considering what some real messes are), and there are actually quite a few sequences in which Lewis’ trademark, fingernails-on-a-blackboard personality is thankfully muzzled or on simmer.

    Still…rather a yawn.

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