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Film / Artists and Models

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Artists and Models is a 1955 Paramount musical comedy film directed by Frank Tashlin and starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their fourteenth feature together as the comedy team Martin and Lewis. The film co-stars Shirley MacLaine and Dorothy Malone, with Eva Gabor and Anita Ekberg also appearing in brief roles.

Rick Todd (Martin) is a struggling painter and smooth-talking ladies' man. His goofy young roommate Eugene Fullstack (Lewis) is an aspiring children's author who has a passion for comic books, especially those of the mysterious and sexy "Bat Lady." Each night, Eugene has horrific screaming nightmares inspired by those comics, about a bizarre bird-like superhero called "Vincent the Vulture", which he describes aloud in his sleep. Meanwhile, a neighbor in their apartment building, Abigail Parker (Malone), is a professional artist who works for a New York comic book company and the creator of "Bat Lady." Her energetic roommate is Bessie Sparrowbush (MacLaine), her co-worker and Abigail's model for "Bat Lady." Abigail becomes frustrated at work at the increasingly lurid and bloodthirsty stories her money-hungry publisher Mr. Murdock (Eddie Mayehoff) demands, and she quits to become an anti-comics activist, dragging Eugene into her crusade as an example of how trashy comic books can warp impressionable minds, just at the same time that Rick gets a job with the company after pitching the adventures of "Vincent the Vulture" from Eugene's dreams, having to keep his work a secret from both her and Eugene.

This film features examples of:

  • Artistic License – Film Production: The Better America Forum, on which Abigail and Eugene appear, is filmed using RCA TK-10 TV cameras. Rick catches the broadcast on a color TV set, which shows a color picture despite the fact that TK-10s were black-and-white cameras. It was probably done this way as filming or converting the brief scene shown on the set to monochrome would've been too much trouble for little payoff.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Rick sings a song while pretending to be a voice on the radio. When Abby asks who is singing, Bessie replies, "He's the fellow that had that big record on 'That's Amore'."
  • Double Take: Following a musical number, Rick walks past a TV set showing Eugene talking about how comics influenced him negatively with nothing more than "Hi, Eugene". Just as he enters a building, he realizes Eugene is on TV and walks back to the set to watch helplessly as he trashes comics.
  • Fanservice: In almost every scene, beginning with the opening credits rolling over a montage of beautiful models in skimpy outfits.
  • The Flapping Dickey: Rick walks in on Eugene trying to get dressed before the ball. Eugene struggles with his dicky flapping straight in front of his face when he tries to powder his face, in typical Jerry Lewis physical comedy style, while Rick chides him for being so out of date.
    Eugene: I can't keep this dicky down, Ricky!
    Rick: Anybody ever tell you that dickies went out with horse cars?! If you're going to rent, why don't you rent a modern dress shirt, something like about 1922.
  • Modesty Towel: Abigail plays her second scene in the film wearing nothing but a very strategically-placed pink towel.
  • Moral Guardians: After Abigail has enough of the increasingly lurid and bloodthirsty stories her publisher demands, she quits her job at the comic book company to become an anti-comics activist, in a satire of the '50s moral panic that led to the creation of The Comics Code.
  • Recurring Dreams: Eugene has recurring nightmares about superhero battles due to the comics he reads.
  • Shout-Out: One of the government agents tailing Rick and Eugene does a Jimmy Stewart impression and says, "I can't see too well through this rear window."
  • Something Else Also Rises: When Bessie kisses Eugene in front of a water cooler, the water steams up.
  • Tacky Tuxedo: Eugene's dicky fronted choice for the Artists and Models ball.
  • Too Many Halves: In one of his nocturnal babblings, Eugene describes Vincent the Vulture as "half-boy, half-man, half-bird."