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There are few people who truly captured the colorful underworld characters that populated Manhattan better than Damon Runyon. He understood their lingo, rackets and dreams. His stories became the basis for Guys and Dolls and The Lemon Drop Kid. The sports reporter knew the game, the players and the hustlers when he arrived at the race track. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were at the top of their game when they hit the stables with a script based on Runyon’s material. Money From Home was sure thing for the duo.
Dean plays against type in this musical comedy. The luckiest man in show biz plays Herman “Honey Talk” Nelson, a gambler on a major cold streak. His IOUs are so widespread that they’ve become currency in the neighborhood. He knows it only takes a single long shot to turn his fate around. But before he can place a bet on a sure thing, he’s dragged into the office of Jumbo Schneider. The notorious mobster wants Honey Talk’s bad luck streak to tarnish the chances of My Sheba at a Maryland steeplechase. If he fails, Honey Talk will be dripped into an unmarked grave. Honey Talk drags his veterinarian cousin (Jerry Lewis) along on the mission. He wants a professional to sabotage the horse. However Jerry isn’t fully trained for such a service. It also hurts that he’s Jerry Lewis.
The simple task gets complicated when the boys get tangled up in romance. Dean falls for Marjie Millar, the owner of My Sheba. Jerry gets the hots for a vet played by Pat Crowley. Jumbo sends the Seldom Seen Kid (Robert Strauss) to keep the boys set on the fix. Strauss had already performed this role with Martin & Lewis in Jumping Jacks and Sailor Beware. He’s best known for playing the longjohns wearing Stanislas Kasava in Stalag 17. Sheldon Leonard, the actor who played Jumbo, became the executive producer on The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and I Spy. Leonard knows how to play frustrated as the boys screw up the orders and My Sheba ends up in the race.
There will be plenty of wincing when Jerry sings to the animals. The hilarity kicks up when Jerry has to lip-sync to one of Dean’s hits. Dean is perfect as a Runyon character. His suit fits as tight as his nickname. Jerry however sticks out with his usual schtick. He’s out of control as he overplays every moment. It just goes completely against Dean’s effortless motions. Instead of being a Runyon character, he’s a character from a Martin & Lewis film.
It is confusing as to why Money From Home wasn’t released as part of last year’s Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection, Volume 2. However there’s no need to look a gift horse in the mouth. This solo release means 3 Ring Circus is the only Martin-Lewis film not on DVD. At War with the Army is available from various public domain companies.
Money From Home takes us back to the time when comedies about race tracks were entertaining. This is not a painful tale of pathetic creatures divining their fate through discarded place tickets. Dean and Jerry look natural when hanging around the paddocks. This isn’t the first time they had to calculate the odds and track conditions. The insane racetrack finale works. Money From Home is a thoroughbred that has no business being led to the glue factory.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The movie was shot in Dynoptic 3-D. The DVD is not in 3-D so don’t go hunting for your glasses. However you can see a little red and blue around the images. There’s nothing really 3-D worthy in the film. The only thing that comes at you is Jerry Lewis. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are loud enough that you’ll want to lower the volume when Jerry goes into overdrive. There’s no subtitles, but it is Closed Captioned.
If you’ve already picked up both volumes of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection, you’ll be pleased by Money From Home. Dean and Jerry nail the trifecta of musical, comedy and mayhem at the track.
Legend Films presents Money From Home. Directed by: George Marshall. Starring: Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Marjie Millar, Sheldon Leonard & Robert Strauss. Written by: Hal Kanter & James B. Allardice. Running time: 100 minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com