It’$ Only Money (1962)

“I love private investigators! I want you to investigate me!”

Synopsis:
While apprenticing with a private eye (Jesse White), a clutzy television repairman (Jerry Lewis) accidentally discovers he’s the long-lost nephew of a millionairess (Mae Questel) whose slimy fiancee/lawyer (Zachary Scott) is colluding with her butler (Jack Weston) to acquire her money at any cost.

Genres:

Review:
This Frank Tashlin-directed private-eye spoof is prime Jerry Lewis material, affording his nebbishy alter-ego plenty of opportunities to engage in broadly humorous slapstick antics. Tashlin fills the screen with numerous inventive sight gags (see stills below), and the supporting cast members all portray their characters with appropriately cartoonish flair: Zachary Scott conveys a steady level of barely concealed contempt for his bride-to-be, the pudgy but relentlessly good-natured Mae Questel (voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl), while Jack Weston is gleefully homicidal as Scott’s accomplice, and Jesse White demonstrates unexpected sex-appeal as the aptly named “Pete Flint”. Less successful is buxomy Joan O’Brien as Questel’s personal nurse, whose character seems to waver between genuine concern for Lewis’s safety and an undeniably gold-digging itch (does she really love him?). Ultimately, this one is only must-see viewing for diehard Lewis fans, but film fanatics likely won’t feel their time has been wasted.

Note: Among the fifteen Jerry Lewis titles included in GFTFF (too many!), I recommend that ffs check out the following: At War With the Army (1950), Artists and Models (1955), The Bellboy (1960), The Nutty Professor (1963), and King of Comedy (1982); The Errand Boy (1961) is also worth a look simply for its brilliant “orchestra pantomime” scene.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many fun, cartoonish sight gags



Must See?
No, though of course Jerry Lewis fans will want to check it out.

Links:

One Response to “It’$ Only Money (1962)”

  1. First viewing.

    Certainly not a must but it does – to a degree – have the saving grace of Tashlin on-board. The director’s considerable efforts in helping us forget this is a dumb Lewis movie are admirable. (And ffs familiar with Tashlin’s work will see his clear stamp everywhere; he really threw himself into this one.) Working on the apparent principle that a little of Lewis in this mode goes a very long way, the film is a blessedly economical 83 minutes. Well, it’s a mixed blessing. A good ten minutes of Lewis shtick could have gone. …Or twenty? It does tend to slow things up when he goes off on one of his…whatever they are he goes off on.

    Lewis had directed himself in films a few times prior to this one. (Note, early on here, the poster plug for ‘The Errand Boy’.) But (more or less ‘The Nutty Professor’ notwithstanding) his ‘nebbishness’ tends to be a little easier to swallow when Tashlin is behind the camera.

    Not surprisingly, the supporting cast comes off generally to much better effect. As noted, they’re all fine. (Well, I know exception is taken with Ms. O’Brien, but I didn’t have a problem understanding her motivation.) Scott, Weston and White are in delightful control and Questel (what an interesting career she had – and what a great comic voice!) is charming throughout.

    Still…this is first and foremost a nerdy Lewis romp.

    Weirdest moment: When O’Brien opens up to Lewis about knowing who he really is, he strangely drops character! It makes no sense.

    Especially fun moment (thanks to effects guy John Fulton): Lewis electrocuted.

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