You’re Never Too Young (1955, Norman Taurog)

“Dig that crazy homework.”

I appreciate that none of Lewis’s movies have even vaguely believable plots. Plausibility is an unnecessary weight on the shoulders of comedy. This one has Jerry playing an aspiring barber in a fancy hotel who gets caught up in a jewel-heist plot along with haircut customer Dean and Dean’s girl Nancy (both teachers at a girls school in a distant town). Jerry mugs an oversized 11-year-old and steals his sailor outfit in order to get a half-price ticket home, but hiding out from the gun-toting jewel thief he bunks with Nancy. Once discovered, he has to keep pretending to be 11 so Nancy won’t be exposed for having a man in her private room. Of course he falls in love with her (and has to fight off teenage girls at the school), but Nancy still marries Dean, awww.

Besides playing the romantic straight-man, Dean sings five dreamy but unmemorable songs. I always think it must be hard to be the woman in those scenes, having to smile through a whole song without attracting attention away from Dean or looking too vacant.

Remake of Ginger Rogers/Ray Milland-starring Billy Wilder-directed The Major and The Minor, in which it’s the girl pretending to be a kid. Hmmm, it’s on TCM tonight. Bosley Crowther’s original New York Times review calls Lewis “noisy and ungraceful” and says the film is “on a mental level that will not demand an exertion from anyone.” Thankfully, Crowther didn’t live to see Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, but yeah, nobody would call You’re Never Too Young challenging. I just found it a cute comedy with Lewis actually at his most likeable and everyone else (Dean included) pleasant enough to watch without adding anything very distinctive.

Good DVD quality. I put this on while paying bills, expecting it to be the lesser of the Artists & Models double-feature disc, so I didn’t pay strict attention but it gradually roped me in. Perfectly fine cinematography by Daniel Fapp (Lord Love a Duck, Let’s Make Love, West Side Story) and direction by Taurog (everything from Andy Gump for President in 1924 to Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine in 1965). Written by Sidney Sheldon, screenwriter of Anything Goes and creator of I Dream of Jeannie. IMDB says his family can expect a big royalty check in 2010.

Look at these two. Hard to believe they were involved in a sinister bisexual mafia prostitute murder conspiracy. Oh wait, they weren’t… that was an Atom Egoyan movie.

Dean’s girl Nancy was Diana Lynn, the youngest brother’s girlfriend Gwen in Track of the Cat, went straight to television after this and died of a stroke sixteen years later.image

Nancy’s uptight co-teacher (not pictured here, since I haven’t forgiven her for being a nosy, moralistic tattletale) is Nina Foch of a buncha period films like Spartacus, The Ten Commandments and Scaramouche.

Not the first time that American Hans Conried (left) played a Frenchman named Francois – and he was also Dr. T in The 5,000 Fingers.

The very sinister Raymond Burr (center), fresh from playing the bad guy in Rear Window, is the jewel thief. Veda Ann Borg (left), vamped as the thief’s wife in this scene. Besides having a very awesome name, she costarred in the 1940 serial The Shadow and appeared in Guys & Dolls and Mildred Pierce.

Orpheus! Don’t look back!

Appropriate that in the water-skiing stunt-double chase scene, Lewis says “I don’t know how to do this!” against a rear-projection screen. It’s a great comic action scene, but I preferred the music performance that preceded it, with Jerry as conductor of Dean and the women’s choir. Similar to a section near the beginning when Jerry leads the girls at a march, only now instead of aping his spastic movements, they vocalize them.

All the “young high school kids” look to be in their twenties. IMDB says they were indeed. Gags involve a milk-shooting water gun, eating cigars, drinking disgusting liquids, falling into a swan pond, and other slapstick stunts, but it’s not over-the-top physical comedy. Or maybe in this post-Dumb and Dumber America, Jerry Lewis humor seems subtle. One of the gags, when Jerry pretends to be a gangster towards the end to escape the school, is referencing 1940’s William Castle movie series The Whistler. Weird how the happy ending involves the girl being left alone as Martin goes back on active army duty, which he’s been hoping to do all movie long. It’s the anti-Stop-Loss.


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