The second of Paramount's two Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis collections is a double treat, not only for fans of the musical comedy duo but also for admirers of director Frank Tashlin, who directed the last two of the five movies in the set, Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956). And in the case of Artists and/i>/i>/a>… See more details below
The second of Paramount's two Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis collections is a double treat, not only for fans of the musical comedy duo but also for admirers of director Frank Tashlin, who directed the last two of the five movies in the set, Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956). And in the case of Artists and Models and the Norman Taurog-directed Pardners (also in this set), the studio remastered both films from the original VistaVision elements. As a result, Artists and Models (which is probably the best picture that Martin and Lewis ever did together) looks extraordinary, with colors that leap off the screen and detail that rivals high-definition, even though it's presented here in ordinary NTSC. Pardners also looks impressive, if not quite as stunning, and there's nothing in the way the movies are presented in this set that will disappoint anyone -- except perhaps the packaging. The movies have been treated well enough in the mastering, with between 13 and 16 chapters each and no bonuses or frills of any kind (not even a single trailer). And the menus are simple and open easily enough, automatically on start-up. The images vary, from 2.0:1 letterboxing on the VistaVision titles to 1.33:1 on the one full-screen (non-VistaVision) entry (Living It Up); all look fine, with Artists and Models one of the best-looking pictures one is ever likely to see of its era. And the sound is consistently sharp and bright, with Dean Martin's voice heard to great advantage. But one would think that Paramount could afford to put in a little booklet, or at least a single-sheet insert with a little information on the movies -- a plot synopsis or...something. After all, the newest of these pictures is 51 years old, and most of the people who know them would only recognize the films from television showings. Additionally, several have notable underlying sources, as well as some biographical significance for the two stars; and there are some very recognizable names and faces in these casts, including Shirley MacLaine, Patricia Crowley, Hans Conried, Raymond Burr, Nina Foch, Edward Arnold, Fred Clark, et al. Additionally, they're selling these five movies at a 30-dollar list price, 50 percent higher than Universal charges on its similarly proportioned Abbott & Costello and Ma and Pa Kettle packages, and those are done up better in terms of supplements than what we get here. Or does Paramount's management believe that this packaging is all that's needed to sell this group of movies to the hardcore Martin and Lewis fans who are still out there in 2007, 51 years after the duo split up?
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