Hollywood or Bust Film Details
Overview: A singer who can’t pay his bookie joins a nerdy, star-struck movie fan and his Great Dane in a cross-country convertible ride to Hollywood.
Tagline: A COAST TO COAST FUN TOOT!
Review: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made this very good, wacky comedy and musical for their parting of ways in films. “Hollywood or Bust” is a type of road show, literally, that may be the most blatant Hollywood blast at television. The opening prologue does that with its hilarious dedication to movie fans around the world. This was 1956, and the cinema world of movie theaters, films and actors was really starting to suffer from the humongous bourgeoning of TV since 1950. This is one of the best of the 15 pairings of the two stars, whose careers would continue for the next three decades. The plot is a simple one, and besides an opening jab at TV, it seems designed to appeal to the broad section of people across the country. It literally traverses the country for two-thirds of the film. Dean and Jerry meet by happenstance in New York, and both have the winning ticket of a big new car give-away. Dean plays Steve Wiley and Jerry is Malcolm Smith. The film shows the skullduggery in how that happened. So, they each have half ownership in the car and head for Hollywood where they will sell the car so Dean can pay off his bookie debt of $3,000. The trip takes them across various states with nice scenery, especially pastoral scenes that seem to have many attractive lasses. They are pitching hay, driving tractors, fishing, sitting on fences and generally lollygagging about waving as the boys drive by in their fancy red convertible. The scenes are peppered with bits of singing, poetry and quips of cliches. An example is a scene in Missouri with two guys – one pushing and other pulling a stubborn Missouri mule. All of this is fun and funny. Eventually they meet up with a girl on the road – some more very funny shenanigans in this scenario. And soon, Pat Crowley’s Terry Roberts joins them – but she’s only going as far as Las Vegas. At least, that’s the plan she began her trek with for a chorus line job in Vegas. The road trip follows a rather zig-zag pattern instead of a straight line or the shortest driving distance from New York City to Los Angeles. Again, that may be part of the appeal to movie audiences over TV shows that were then set mostly in the big cities on either coast. So, after the pastoral scenes in Pennsylvania, they wind up going through Chicago. Steve had been napping while Malcolm drove with Terry beside him. When he wakes up, he tells Malcolm to put the top up and hurry away from the Windy City. He knows too many people there whom he had no desire to see. While all the places aren’t identified in the film, except by the travelers singing and naming the states, one with good knowledge and/or experience of American geography can fairly closely map their journey. After Chicago, they must have headed South in Illinois and they cross the Mississippi River probably at St. Louis. The bridges and city scenes would have been considerably changed and different from the mid-1950s to just three or four decades later. Today, the scene in the movie probably wouldn’t be recognized by people native to the area, since the changes with many Interstates and expressway routes, loops and highway connections. So, they drive across rural Missouri and then cross the Missouri River and the beginning of the Wild West. That would have to be North of Kanas City since the Mighty Missouri River makes a right-angle bend to the left and heads straight East at KC. Then, after crossing the Mighty Mo probably in the vicinity of St. Joseph, the route turns south in Kansas, but there’s no mention of Kansas. The next mention is Oklahoma, and reference to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical hit movie of that title the previous year. There’s also a ditty with Malcolm in a football helmet and pads, referring to the Oklahoma Sooners football team. In the 1950s it was a dominant college team and won various championships in 1949, 1950, 1953, 1955 and 1956. From there, the trio drive, sing, and foible their way past oil fields in the Texas Panhandle, and on into northern New Mexico. They drive through Santa Fe; then past some pueblos, and across northern Arizona with a stop at the Grand Canyon. They then drive across Boulder Dam, a nickname at the time for Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, and into Las Vegas. And get who’s top-billed on the big sign when they enter Las Vegas – Elvis Presley and the All-Star Review. A day later they head to LA and Hollywood. One other member of the cast adds a lot of humor and fun to the film and their journey. Malcolm has a pet dog, Mr. Bascombe, which he won in a dog-food jingle contest. The dog is a Great Dane, and one of the best trained dogs one will ever see in the movies. Lassie had nothing to fear for film competition, because this huge, lanky, lovable dog plays strictly for humor. He’s a model for the Marmaduke comic strip that premiered in 1954 and ran through 2015 in American newspapers. The numerous foibles and comical incidents that Malcolm and Steve have might qualify this film as screwball comedy. It is a very amusing, fun and funny film that families even in the 21st century should enjoy. Here are a couple favorite lines from the film. Malcolm, “Is Gregory Peck one of your friends?” Steve, “Well, where do you think he got his gray flannel suits?” (Peck starred in a movie that just preceded this one, “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.”) Malcolm, “Whadda ya want me to be, an Indian giver?” Steve, “Yeah. Give her an Indian — that’s not so personal.”
Country: United States
Duration: 95 min
Genre: Comedy, Musical
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