Living It Up (1954) Poster


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Finest film of Martin and Lewis
lzf011 May 2002
In 1937, William Wellman directed a classic screenplay by Ben Hecht called "Nothing Sacred". This film has become a screwball comedy classic. Doctor Charles Winninger wrongly diagnoses patient Carole Lombard telling her that she has radiation poisoning. New York journalist Frederic March finds out about this and brings Lombard and Winninger to New York as a publicity stunt. March later discovers that Lombard is not going to die, but this does not matter to him; he has fallen in love with her.

Now in the early 1950s, this movie was turned into a Broadway musical called "Hazel Flagg". The score was written by Jule Styne ("Anchors Away", "High Button Shoes", "Gentleman Prefer Blondes", "Gypsy", "Funny Girl") and Bob Hilliard (a Brill Building lyricist). The show was semi-successful, so Paramount decided to use it as a basis for a Martin and Lewis comedy.

Dean is the skirt chasing, incompetent doctor. Jerry is the patient, becoming "Homer Flagg". March's role is given over to Janet Leigh and she falls for Dean. Some of the Broadway song are used: "How Do You Speak to an Angel", "Every Street's a Boulevard", "You're Gonna Dance with Me". Styne and Hilliard also wrote a batch of new songs for Dean and Jerry. In fact, Dean and Jerry handle all of the musical numbers.

Now the movies never really captured the essence of Martin and Lewis. That is only available through kinescopes of their "Colgate Comedy Hour" and a bootleg film of a show at the Copa. The tension between the relaxed crooner-comic (Martin) being upstaged by his ambitious partner with a schizoid personality (sometimes silly juvenile, sometimes savvy show biz comic) is seen in these shows. It is truly fascinating and brings a depth to the partnership of Martin and Lewis that no other comedy team has ever had.

In the movies, Dean was cast as a heel who is reformed by the end of the movie by his partner and his leading lady. Jerry is a magical sprite; he appears to be inept and clumsy, but he is way ahead of every other character in the film. While some of this is seen in "Living It Up", it is blatantly true of "Jumping Jacks". Both Dean and Jerry are full service entertainers. They are funny, the can sing, they can dance, and they can act. The shame of it all is that they broke up before they had really hit their stride. Just imagine films featuring Dean's drunk, sex maniac character which appeared very shortly after the breakup and Jerry's mature schizoid "I'm a famous movie star" clown.

As for "Living It Up", it is a musical comedy which can be viewed again and again. The story is great, the songs are tuneful, and the gags are fast and funny.
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This is some funny stuff
Petey-1018 July 2005
Jerry Lewis plays a railroad worker Homer Flagg, who think he's dying on radioactive poisoning in three weeks.Dean Martin is his doctor Steve Harris, who tells him that's not the case.A beautiful New York reporter Wally Cook (Janet Leigh) comes to New Mexico wanting to write a series of articles about this "dying" young man.She takes both Homer and the doc to New York.Homer hasn't bothered the lady with the truth, that he's not actually going to die, because he's always wanted to go to NY.And of course the love sick doctor falls for the pretty reporter and so does Homer.The whole city of New York feels pity for the poor Homer. Norman Taurog's Living It Up (1954) is an extremely funny Jerry Lewis movie from the time he still made a team with Dean Martin.It's not only Jerry who makes you laugh hard, also Dean does that trick.Janet Leigh makes a perfect leading lady in the middle of the clown and the playboy.You can find awfully many funny scenes from the movie, like where Jerry pretends he's a doctor from Paris, Wienna and Hong Kong.He also pretends he's Dean's character while Dean is Jerry.Also the scene on the dance floor with Sheree North is pretty amazing.I saw this movie for the first time in seven years yesterday.It sure brought me back.
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My Favorite Martin and Lewis Movie
Isaac58553 April 2007
LIVING IT UP is a reworking of the Carole Lombard classic NOTHING SACRED now tailored to the talents of the 50's greatest movie team, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Lewis takes on the Lombard role as Homer Flagg, a small town schnook, who after exposure to radiation, believes he is dying and when word spreads all the way to Manhattan of his misfortune, a reporter for a big New York paper decides to treat Homer to a vacation in the Big Apple, sort of a final fling before Homer meets his maker. Martin plays Steve, Homer's doctor, who discovers before the arrival of the reporter, that Homer isn't really dying, but agrees to play along so that Homer can go to New York and is even more willing to play along when he meets the reporter, played by the lovely Janet Leigh. Growing up in the 60's, I had seen Jerry Lewis movies and I had seen Dean Martin movies, but I was almost an adult by the time I learned that they had made movies as a team. This laugh-a-minute comedy was my first exposure to them as a team and it is my favorite outing of theirs and is a part of my permanent video collection. Martin and Lewis are a well-oiled machine and Janet Leigh makes a lovely leading lady There's also a great comic turn by comic veteran Fred Clark as Leigh's boss, whose character name is Oliver Stone! Sheree North also makes a memorable cameo at a jitterbug contest. But this is a Martin and Lewis show all the way, highlights including Dino's crooning of a love song to a photo of Audrey Hepburn and the duo's now classic "Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York." This is Martin and Lewis in their prime and a comedy classic that's still funny fifty years later.
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A showcase for Jerry Lewis' MANY talents.
MissLisa197011 November 2011
As a lover of all things "Martin & Lewis" if i were forced to choose which movie i enjoy the most from the team - i'd have to say this one. Why?

While i understand and adore the gimmick of the team (Dean: the straight man, the romantic crooner, the big brother - Jerry: the "all over the place" monkey, the off key bumbler, the kid.) This movie gives us a chance to see Jerry's "other" talents. Yes, Jerry is a brilliant physical comedian, but ....

He can dance! OH YES! There is a scene with him and Sheree North in a very exuberant dance number that i can't help but to rewind and watch several times. it's just an awesome routine! the choreography is excellent! and Jerry moves with straight swag! Also there is a delightful number with him and Dean in top hat and tails whereby Jerry clearly dances better than Dean. However, Dean clearly sings better than Jerry, so it evens out (HA!) that said- there is also a rare opportunity (especially in the Martin and Lewis Days) to hear Jerry sing a song straight up-neat, shaken and not stirred. Just his regular singing voice. (no high pitched shrieking that i adore in spite of itself) although it obviously goes without saying it's not as beautifully crooned as when Dean sings the same song-still It's surprisingly pleasant and shows a hint of what makes Jerry capable of being every bit as romantically appealing as Dean if given the chance to switch it up. At worked for me, and i fell IN LOVE with Jerry after having seen this film for the first time as a kid. It's just a great movie. If you've not seen it..give it a view. Chances are you won't regret it.
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Watch for Rodney Dangerfield
jaynay9 May 2008
I've seen this movie many times over the last 40 years and I noticed that during the scene where they're bringing all the food "Homer" ordered to the suite, the first waiter to enter the room is Rodney Dangerfield. Unfortunately, he is not listed in the credits and I have submitted this to the IMDb database managers. I'd like someone else to look closely at that scene to make sure I'm not crazy. I know that to add the credit they need some concrete evidence, like a cast list or contract or anecdotal evidence from Rodney himself, who is no longer with us, but I'm pretty sure it's him.

As for the film, overall, it's a typical silly Martin/Lewis film. Full of Jerry's mugging and Dean's singing and charm. Some good gags, especially the light bulb bombing of Fred Clark.

I give it a 7 of 10.
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Live it and lap it up.
Spikeopath17 September 2008
Homer Flagg is an inept stationmaster in New Mexico, he mistakenly believes he has contracted radium poisoning. A reporter for the New York Chronicle, Wally Cooper, heads out west to write his story, but before she arrives, Homer finds out that he in fact isn't dying, but along with his devious doctor they decide to accept Cooper's offer of an all expenses paid trip to the Big Apple. Here in New York everyone takes Homer to their hearts, so the guys have to keep up the pretence that Homer is not long for this world, something that will be hard to do in light of Homer's complete ineptitude.

As Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis vehicles go, this is one of the better offerings, it's basically a reworking of the 1937 William Wellman picture, Nothing Sacred. Lots of fun to be had as Martin & Lewis continue the formula that made them so appealing to the movie watching masses back in the 50s. A bonus here is the bright as a button performance from Janet Leigh, not only turning Dean Martin's { Dr Steve} head, but also the audience with an enjoyable slot into this comedy tale. As usual Jerry acts the goof whilst Dean sings and swaggers, and as usual a Martin & Lewis film is only as good as it's comedy set pieces, here they come up trumps with one sequence during a jitterbug contest particularly entertaining. It all comes together during a typically hilarious finale to leave us with a rewarding film from a very rewarding double act. 7/10
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Some information about the songwriter, Bob Hilliard
parsecsam27 November 2003
I saw this film in Albany, NY while taking a 40' yacht up the Hudson River from New York City. I thought it was very funny. coincidently, I was with the songwriter, Bob Hilliard and his wife Jackie, the night before I left New York. Also, Albany is mentioned in the movie and the Albany audience went wild. I had to take a boat and a bus to Albany to experience this. In the first comment about this film, the writer refers to Bob Hilliard as a "Brill Building Writer." Most writers and musicians worked out of that building in the forties and fifties. Bob wrote a number of hits, including; "Our Day Will Come" "Moonlight Gambler" "Be My Life's Companion" "Money Burns A hole In My Pocket" "In the Wee small Hours of the Morning", and many more. I don't think he should be dismissed as just a "Brill Building Song Writer." You can read more about Bob and see a list of all of his songs by running a search for "Bob Hilliard" in one of the major search engines. There is a website with stories and a list of all of his songs.
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Where's "Salomee" ???
fguerras19 October 2006
I have always been fond of the score of "Hazel Flagg", and I've always liked this film version of it. But what has always puzzled me is that after Sheree North made a big hit on Broadway dancing in the show, they got her for the movie version, and cut her big dance number, the delightful comedy song "Salomee". She could have re-created her dance ! True, she did one of the show's original songs with Jerry, but they should have kept "Salomee." And Janet Leigh did other musicals, so I'm sure she could have handled Benay Venuta's numbers from the show. Hollywood !!! The story about the media, and fame, and paparazzi is even more timely today, so they should definitely do a re-make as "Hazel Flagg" with the original score.
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Exceptionally funny
Boogalow27 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Martin & Lewis at their best here in a hilarious film. The humour is atypical, as you'd expect from the lads; Jerry's clowning, face pulling and prat falls - catch the dance sequence where Homer (Jerry Lewis) does the Jitterbug, wow, as well as everything else he does Jerry is a fab dancer. Dean Martin plays the doctor and is full of the usual charm, wit and singing, the perfect foil to the humour of Jerry Lewis, Martin is so laid back here he's practically horizontal. There's a lovely part where Dean sings 'How do you speak to an Angel' in that wonderfully mellifluous voice and shortly afterwards Jerry does the same, singing for the most part in a serious manner but also adding in the 'kid and the squeaky voice persona' - I just loved it, want to watch it again and probably will. Get the CD Jerry Lewis 'Just Sings' awesome in itself.

I've loved Jerry Lewis since I was a kid myself and I'm now pushing 50. It's so hard to make all the humour and hilarity on set look natural and Jerry (and Dean) do that, but it must take it's toll somewhere along the line, so Thanks Guys for a belter of a film; absolute magic from the masters at work, the incomparable Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis.
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writers_reign9 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This was arguably the first time an Original Screenplay (Nothing Sacred, 1934) had been adapted into a Broadway Musical (Hazel Flagg, 1952) and then the Broadway Musical had been adapted into a film (Living It Up, 1954) It grew progressively weaker in each incarnation and seen today the movie has little to recommend it. Carole Lombard, the original Hazel, was light years better than Helen Gallagher who in turn eclipsed Jerry Lewis. There are four decent songs, a frenetic dance, Sig Ruman phones in his guttural dokktorr - he did it much better in Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie ten years later, Janet Leigh is the love interest, Fred Clark is Fred Clark and that's about it.
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Martin and Lewis
SnoopyStyle9 September 2018
Homer Flagg (Jerry Lewis) is not terribly excited to take over an isolated New Mexico train station. He hops onto a train hoping to hitch a ride to New York City. It goes wrong and he gets radioactive. Cynical reporter Wally Cook (Janet Leigh) wants to write a story giving the dying country bumpkin a final tour of NYC. His best friend Dr. Steve Harris (Dean Martin) tells him that he's perfectly healthy and the radiation is all a mistake. When Wally shows up, they both fall head over heels. Homer is eager to go to New York and Steve is perfectly happy to lie to the beautiful reporter.

The fun Martin and Lewis pairing is in full swing here. At first, I figured this is missing the love triangle opportunity. When the triangle actually happens, I figured it's a mistake. The timing of the triangle is off. Homer needs to be more in love at first. So when he's under the bed, his sacrifice is more heart-breaking and he needs to have the ready partner all along. Overall, this highlights the fun chemistry of the legendary pair and Leigh is an appealing trophy.
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Is anything sacred?
mark.waltz11 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The classic screwball comedy, "Nothing Sacred", gets an update thanks to the brief Broadway version, "Hazel Flagg", which in its film version gets a sex change. Jerry Lewis becomes Homer Flagg, the victim of radiation poisoning who ends up a big newspaper story for New York reporter Janet Leigh while small town doctor Dean Martin makes a play for Leigh, all the while knowing that Lewis isn't sick. All mayhem ensues in a musical comedy that shows Martin and Lewis at their best. Martin scores as the doctor whom Lewis asks, "What college did you graduate from?", to which Martin replies with his own question, "Who graduated?"

The few songs that remain from "Hazel Flagg" are sung nicely by Dean, and don't reflect the mediocre original cast recording. A jitterbug dance between Lewis and blonde bombshell Sheree North is the highlight, as is the production number, "Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York", the best song in the Broadway production. Unlike Abbott and Costello (whom Martin and Lewis replaced as the top comedy team at the box office), you could tell that Martin's character always cared about Lewis's, while Bud always seemed out to take advantage of Lou's idiocy.

This is a rare example of a flop Broadway show making it to the big screen, although in its altered story is obviously quite different. I enjoyed the twists on the gender of the lead characters. Fred Clark and Edward Arnold have nice smaller roles, adding class to an already classy production. It's colorful and fast moving, and doesn't cheapen the memory of the classic original which so many remakes of 1930's screwball comedies seemed to overkill on.
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The Pride Of Desert Hole
bkoganbing22 February 2014
One of my favorite Martin&Lewis Pictures has quite the pedigree. Originally Ben Hecht wrote this as the story behind the film Nothing Sacred, it then was recreated as a musical Hazel Flagg on Broadway with songs by Jule Styne and Bob Hilliard. Then Paramount bought it as a vehicle for Martin and Lewis and scrapped most of the score retaining only How Do You Speak To An Angel and Every Street's A Boulevard.

It's one of those gender reversal parts that Jerry Lewis got playing Homer Flagg, stationmaster at Desert Hole, New Mexico who gets a mistaken diagnosis of radium poisoning by Dr. Dean Martin. That sends Janet Leigh ace reporter on Fred Clark's newspaper for the human interest story of a man dying whose only wish is to see The Big Apple before he dies.

Of course it's all a mistake, but Dean and Jerry keep the deception going to wangle a free trip to New York at Fred Clark's expense. And both of them fight over Janet Leigh.

This was one film where Dean Martin did very well in the song department. Two songs written for the film by the same Broadway composers became favorites of Dino's fans world wide. That's What I Like and Money Burns A Whole In My Pocket sold a few records for him, the latter is a particular favorite of mine.

As for Jerry he has some great comedy routines, one with Sig Ruman as a doctor specialist sent to examine him, another on the train that drops him in the middle of the Los Alamos Proving Grounds where they think he gets the radium poisoning, another swinging from a chandelier doing a demented act and pelting Dean Martin and Fred Clark with light-bulbs.

Highlight of the film is both of them doing one of the great New York tribute ballads Every Street's A Boulevard In Old New York. Dean&Jerry also recorded this and it's a real gem on record and on film.

If you're not a Martin&Lewis fan you'll become one after seeing Living It Up.
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Copy of 1937 Carole Lombard film
gfarral11 July 2010
She was Hazel Flagg and Charles Winnegar was Dr. Enoch Downer Fredric March played the reporter from New York, Wallace Cook. The acting is comparable with identical story lines. The Martin and Lewis version does not degrade or surpass the original. Very enjoyable to watch. The location was changed from Vermotn/New York to New Mexico/New York. Both towns can be described as not up to date, impoverished, and a bit backward. Dean Martin likes his alcohol as did Charles Winnegar. Jerry is far more ditsy than Carole. Janet and Fredric were on par as reporters. Often times the remake is not as good as the original. Very little difference in the 1937 and 1954 version of this movie technologically. Easy to compare them.
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It's probably the worst Marttin & Lewis film...
MartinHafer3 December 2010
I hated "Living It Up" and think it's probably the worst film made by Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Now you should know that I am NOT a die-hard fan of the team--though I will watch a film if it comes on TV. A few of their films are very good (such as "The Stooge" and "That's My Boy"), but I have also felt that too often the team's films suffered from either having too much mugging from Lewis or too much music. Now I like Dean Martin's singing, but too often they included production numbers that were just distracting. Well, "Living It Up" has both LOTS of horrible mugging from Jerry, ridiculous and inappropriate production numbers that look like padding and, to top that off, it's a remake of a film that is a classic--"Nothing Sacred". "Nothing Sacred" starred Carole Lombard and Frederic March (a class team) and was a lot of fun. By comparison, Martin & Lewis simply look second-rate. All the subtlety and joy of the original film is gone--in its place, the new film is brash, loud and often irritating--plus the script often makes no sense (such as Jerry acting not 1% sick--even though he is supposed to be dying).

Before you assume I am an angry crank for not loving this film, try watching it yourself. The scene where Jerry poses as French, German and Japanese doctors is not only highly offensive, but it's just plain stupid. Jerry contorts his face and mugs and he instantly goes from a European to an Asian (without makeup)--just sticking his teeth out and saying "Ah, so..." repeatedly. This was just lazy and dumb. And, throughout the film the director and writer just chose to let the actors do their thing without restraint or finesse. As a result, the film often made me cringe. And, as a result of all these problems, there really is nothing positive I can say about the film. Yes, it's THAT bad and offers nothing over "Nothing Sacred". Oh, and PLEASE see "Nothing Sacred"--it's a great film. Plus, it may be interesting for you to see this and then this Martin & Lewis film--the contrast is striking.
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Living It Up But You Can Just Die from This One *
edwagreen11 April 2007
Absolutely inane Martin and Lewis film where Dino is the doctor and Lewis, a railroad employee, supposedly comes into contact with a radioactive car. Dean, at first, feels that Lewis is terminal but soon reverses himself. That reversal doesn't come before N.Y. newspaper lady, Janet Leigh, arrives and gets the two to come to N.Y. for a sympathetic last trip with the hopes of increasing the newspapers' circulation. Fred Clark, as the editor, is his usual cynical self.

What makes this film so ridiculous is that it could be obvious to anyone that there is nothing wrong with Homer Flagg (Lewis.) His antics are as silly as ever. The attempt at slap-stick comedy with the three doctors is nonsensical at best.

Even some of the dance sequences are out of line here especially the one with Sheree North playing herself.
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One of the best of the Martin & Lewis films
vincentlynch-moonoi2 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This has always been one of my favorite Martin & Lewis pictures.

Dean has some very good songs here -- "Kiss Me, Kiss Me", "How Do You Speak To An Angel", and "Money Burns A Hole In My Pocket".

In terms of Jerry's performance, the dance number with Sheree North is hilarious. I noted that a couple of our IMDb reviewers noted Jerry's mugging; that was Jerry Lewis' primary contribution (sarcasm) to comedy; it's what he did more than any one thing in all the Martin & Lewis films...well, that along with talking in a screeching voice. And why did Jerry Lewis insist on singing??? It is interesting, however, to see how Jerry had evolved by 1954 into a man who could be at least somewhat of a love interest. Since it has come up in a number of Lewis films, apparently Jerry thought all Asians had bucked teeth. I won't say it was racist, but I will say it was not a well-thought out depiction and was born of ignorance.

In terms of the boys together, the slapping scene is funny. But I do want to commend them for the "Every Streets A Boulevard" production number. One of the best musical productions of their entire career (and a song that they did a few times on the Colgate Comedy Hour on television).

In terms of the supporting cast, Janet Leigh is great as the newspaper reporter who is just a little slippery with the truth. Fred Clark is great as the editor (with toupee). I did feel a little sorry for Edward Arnold here; Arnold was once a major star, and received billing above Cary Grant in "The Toast Of New York"; here he has little more than a bit part as mayor, and it was one of his last films.

This is one of the more sophisticated Martin & Lewis films, and I highly recommend it.
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Martin & Lewis are at it once again in Living It Up with Janet Leigh in tow
tavm27 August 2011
Just rewatched this Martin & Lewis movie on YouTube. In this one, Jerry thinks he's dying because he drove in a car labeled "radioactive" in the desert town he's lived in all his life though local doctor Dean knows better after examining him. But because the news reached all the way to New York, an ambitious female reporter (Janet Leigh) there wants to grant Homer Flagg (Lewis' character) his last wish: to visit the Big Apple which Dean agrees to since he's attracted to Leigh. Actually, this marks the first time that Dean & Jerry find themselves competing for the same girl. There's plenty of hilarious scenes and some good Martin numbers though it's a nice surprise to see Lewis himself have a good performance of a love song as well. He's also excellent in a Jitterbug dance number with Sheree North. If there's one sequence that's cringe-worthy, it's when Jerry tries to pass himself off as various specialists especially the one from Hong Kong. Among the supporting cast, Fred Clark is especially good as the cynical publisher Oliver Stone (yeah, you read that right) in his second appearance in an M & L flick. Also nice to see familiar faces like Edward Arnold as the mayer and Grady Sutton as a gift store clerk trying to keep Dean from fooling with his items. And the duet of the boys singing the praises of New York is among the best of their numbers. So on that note, I recommend Living It Up.
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