Artists and Models Screen 7 articles

Artists and Models

1955

Artists and Models Poster
  • No film could be more devastating, more bitter in its humor, more brackish, with the richness of the situations constantly aggravated by the poverty of the situations, with the uneasy spectator at first forcing an unwilling laugh, then feeling ashamed, laughing again mechanically, seized in a pitiless mesh of imbecilities, and ending by roaring with laughter because it isn't funny at all. It is, in other words, an acme of stupidity, but an acme in the same way as Bouvard et Pécuchet.

  • The brilliance of Artists and Models lies in its use of the pre-existing Martin/Lewis personae – the difference between them developed and extended very which way. . . . This basic gender division is not as simple as it first appears. For whereas Rick chases Abby, it is Bessie who goes after Eugene. In the film’s final moments, Eugene points to Rick and Abby – “she’s his” – to which Bessie responds, “you’re mine”.

  • The best Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie (1955) is also Frank Tashlin's best feature at Paramount. . . . Five cowriters are credited along with Tashlin, but the stylistic exuberance is seamless, and this film eventually wound up providing the inspirational spark for Jacques Rivette's late, great New Wave extravaganza Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974).

  • Though Tashlin’s main preoccupation, comics are just a fraction of the pop flotsam swirling in this exultantly vulgar sketch of the Eisenhower era. . . . The clothed, tangled massage-room orgy and the water cooler brought to a boiling pitch by a kiss are among the sly blue gags; Eva Gabor plays Hatta Mari from Tashlin’s Plane Daffy cartoon, MacLaine redeems Martin’s smarmy "Inamorata" number by turning it into her own plaintive, horny mating call for Lewis.

  • Artists And Models is one of the most exuberant and colorful American movies of the 1950s. It uses the era’s comics boom as both a visual reference and a plot point, spinning a story about two pairs of mismatched roommates into a quasi-surreal satire of anti-communist paranoia, fandom, and art, packed with throwaway quotations (it may contain the first Rear Window riff in film history) and sight gags. All that, and it’s pretty funny, too.

  • Tashlin, a pop visionary, puts unhinged pop visions at the core of modern life, presenting Lewis’s nocturnal babble as scientific insights that get the attention of the F.B.I. and Soviet spies. “Don’t shoot,” one of them says. “Remember, we need his dreams.” But the villains are ultimately thwarted by the dreamer’s sexual instinct, and a scene that parodies “Rear Window” (one of Tashlin’s many Hitchcockian winks) emphasizes the connection between sex and violence.

  • Tash’s trademark satire is primarily aimed at the public derision of comic books, but that doesn’t stop the imp from taking shots at obsessions like astrology and the Cold War. One would think that these elements would keep the humor terribly outmoded, but Tashlin’s absolutely masterful control of color and tone keep the film’s virtues immortal, along with the irreducible contributions from Mr. Lewis and Ms. MacLaine, of course.

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