Monday, October 4, 2010

With a Bloodcurdling Scream in the Night, Jerry Lewis Kicks off the Silver Age in 1955

Well, okay, we generally credit Showcase #4 and Barry Allen for kicking off the Silver Age in 1956. But obviously, nothing comes from nowhere, and I wonder how much the Martin and Lewis movie, Artists and Models, helped to bring awareness of the superhero genre creeping back in 1955. Jerry Lewis is Eugene Fullstack, an early comic nerd who spends a lot of the movie just reading piles of comics, especially the adventures of Bat Lady, a pulchritudinous spacey crimefighter, before actually meeting her, or at least the artist's model who dresses as her played by none other than Shirley MacLaine.

Eugene seemed to really favour a brand of superhero with a sci-fi twist as were becoming popular at the time (he probably also liked Martian Manhunter and Captain Comet, though no "real" superheroes are mentioned in the film). At night he dreams about a sci-fi superhero of his own creation, Vincent the Vulture, much to the chagrin of roommate Dean Martin in this proto-Ernie and Bert scene.

Note: Special thanks to Dan of It's a Dan's World for giving this blog a recommend on his excellent page of comic awesomeness!!!


LissBirds said...

"Member of the Audobon Society" lol.

Thanks for posting an old movie clip that mentions comic books...I'm always looking for a reference. In all the hundreds of classic films I've seen, I think I've only heard "funny books" mentioned once or twice. Then again, most of the movies I watch are 1930's-mid-50's, so that's probably why.

Aaron said...

There's a great scene later where Eugene is speaking publicly about how comics gave him brain damage, when he decides to reform his nerdy ways - it really makes good fun of the Seduction of the Innocent paranoia, and of course Jerry had his own comic book, though I've unfortunately only seen various panels, so far never laid my hands on one.

I also love the classic films and am grateful for Turner Classic Movies, I remember the days of having to stay up till 3 am to catch good vintage movies. Though they were worth it.

LissBirds said...

Comics don't give you brain damage? :) Now I have to go see this movie, even though I can only take Jerry Lewis in small doses. :) I didn't know he had his own comic. Ohhh, the Silver Age.

TCM is an amazing resource, not only for the movies, but the shorts and behind-the-scenes info, too (and no movie is complete for me without an intro by Robert Osborne). It's almost always on in my house, (unless it's a cowboy movie.) And I remember there used to be two other old movie channels, TMC and AMC when I was younger...but only TCM stuck with it.

Aaron said...

I actually generally feel the same way about Lewis, and yet a proto-nerd character somehow really works for him. I don't like him as much as I like Bob Hope, who also had his own silver age comic that, from appearances, got pretty nutty. I start to wonder if these guys ever took a look at the insanity happening in their name.

Yeah, love the obscure shorts, and Robert Osborne is just the best!

rob! said...

I need to see this movie!