Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kiss Me, Stupid is smart, funny, and edgy for its time.

Hey pallies, likes today we gets 'nother great op to put the accent on the randiest of randy Dino-flicks. From the blog, "I Probably Liked It - Short movie reviews written by a guy who just likes to like movies," a dude tagged Jim Silas Moore has taken on the responsibility of reviewin' that long-before-it's-time classic Dino-comedy, "Kiss Me Stupid." Blogger Jim makes the astute observation that KMS is "smart, funny, and edgy for its time."

However Moore is not nearly astute 'bout our most beloved Dino. Interestin'ly this guy states that "Dean Martin wasn't actually a huge part of the movie," and then goes on to question how "aware" our great man was in playin' the role. It's clear that Mr. Moore in probably not much "aware" of the amazin' talents that our great man displayed in the huge array of roles that he played on the big screen....from classic westerns likes "Rio Bravo" (where our Dino was robbed of even a Oscar nod), to huge dramatic successes like "The Young Lions," to spyster gigs like the Matt Helm flicks (which our Dino full of self-awareness plays as swingin' romps, to the huge 16 comedic successes of the Martin and Lewis flicks.

But, even though I truly believe that reviewer Mr. Moore simply does not give our Dino his due, it is cool to find 'nother blogger drawin' his readers attention to probably our great man's most underated role. So, thanks to blogger Jim for sharin' his review of Billy Wilder's "Kiss Me Stupid." To checks this out in it's original format, simply clicks on the tag of this Dino-gram. Dino-focused, DMP

Kiss Me, Stupid, by Billy Wilder, 1964

I'm not much for the crooners, so I really never felt much need to watch any of the movies featuring the Rat Pack guys. The only movie I think I've ever seen with one of those guys is Scorsese's The King of Comedy with Jerry Lewis. I'm not even sure if that counts. Anyway, if it weren't for Billy Wilder, I don't think I ever would have given a Dean Martin movie a shot, but as expected with Wilder, Kiss Me, Stupid is smart, funny, and edgy for its time.

Dean Martin stars as himself, though just referred to as "Dino" throughout. Like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, he's playing a broadly exaggerated version of the way the public perceives him. You know, drunken and lecherous. He's pretty gross in this movie, but I always assumed he was pretty gross in real life too, so I don't know how exaggerated it is. I just assume there was some self awareness going into his performance.

Anyway, Dean Martin drives through a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, Climax, Nevada (get it?). When a couple of struggling songwriters named Orville and Barney (Ray Walston and Cliff Osmond) stumble across him, they concoct a plan to strand Dino there overnight so they can pitch him their songs. Dino refuses to deal with them because he's horny, and he hears good things about Orville's wife (HINT HINT). Orville understands the implied trade, a night with his wife for a song, but can't bring himself to sell her out like that (plus he's worried that she, a HUGE Dino fan, just might say yes). So they do the right (?) thing and instead of prostituting Orville's wife, they get her out of the house and hire an actual prostitute named Polly the Pistol (Kim Novak) to pretend to be her. All sorts of screwball scenarios then ensue as they try to keep the ruse going.

This isn't one of my favorite Billy Wilder movies, but I still liked it. Ray Walston played things a little too big. He mugs a lot for the camera. I read that Orville was supposed to be played by Jack Lemmon but he wasn't available, and that makes a lot of sense. Then Peter Sellers was supposed to do it and he had a heart attack during filming. It goes without saying that both of those guys would have killed, but Ray Walston is what we got and I can accept that, I guess.

By far my favorite performance in the movie is Kim Novak as Polly the Pistol. She steals the show and by the end of the movie I was totally crushing on her. I also read (thanks, Wikipedia!) that Marilyn Monroe was meant to play the role, but of course, she died during pre-production. Well, I could see why they wanted a Lemmon/Monroe reunion, but I'm glad Novak got the part, because she brought a soul to the character that I'm not entirely sure Monroe could have.

Dean Martin wasn't actually a huge part of the movie. He spends a lot of it sleeping, actually, occasionally waking up to sing a song or complain about not having had sex yet. I don't know how self aware of his character's portrayal that Martin was for this, but he comes across as a total creep. It seems to me that Dino might not have realized that Wilder was sometimes lighting and shooting him to look like a home invader or a rapist or something. If he was aware, that's awesome that he's willing to let himself be portrayed that way, but if he wasn't aware, that's kind of even more awesome.

Just like up above, I won't spoil the ending, but I was genuinely surprised at how adult it was! Things have come a long way in the nine years since the relatively chaste days of The Seven Year Itch. So to sum things up: Dino's a creep, Walston is hammy, and Novak steals it. The script is sly and edgy, but with a better protagonist, the movie could have been a whole lot more. Still, Wilder pulls it off and Kiss Me, Stupid is still a good time.


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