It’s Only Money (1962)
Frequent collaborators Jerry Lewis and director Frank Tashlin teamed for the sixth of their seven outings with this tale of a lost heir to a fortune who turns out to be……. yup, you guessed it.
This time out Jerry is once again playing a bumbling character with a heart. He’s a television repairman back in the days when sets needed new tubes and bunny ears. Anyone recall them days?
He’s currently working on repairing a TV belonging to Jesse White who happens to be private eye or Shamus as Lewis continues to refer to him as. Jerry would like nothing better then to see himself as White’s new partner.
“Forget it kid. You ain’t cut out to be a Shamus.”
With the blondes and brunettes coming in to White’s office it’s easy to see why Jerry is so enamored of the Shamus lifestyle. Naturally he goes into his tough guy pose in front of the mirror with the long coat and hat pulled low. Not so tough when White catches him at it.
That’s really the basis of so many characters that Jerry would portray over the years. Wanting to be something he’s not which is usually a stronger individual in a position of power and the brawn to back it up.
The local media announces that a search is underway for the long lost heir to a fortune. There’s a $100,000 reward for finding the lost son and White is on the case. Should the heir not be located in a week’s time, the fortune will default to the deceased’s sister and her husband to be, Zachary Scott.
If you know Zachary then you know he won’t want any heir located even if he has to kill to keep it that way. Zach even employs the President of the Peter Lorre Fan Club as his personal assistant played by the snivelling Jack Weston.
Through a comedy of errors only the world of Jerry Lewis would allow, Jerry becomes a marked man for some befuddled assassination attempts from our villainous duo. Somehow he’s always sidestepping defeat. With the help of Joan O’Brien he just might find out his true identity and capture the heart of a beautiful woman to boot.
While it’s surprising there’s no Kathleen Freeman in the mix (she always seemed to be one of Jerry’s tormentors) we do have Del Moore and Ted de Corsia turning up in a brief bit near the fade out.
The one thing I find noticeable here is that with Tashlin directing the “Lewis” gags don’t quite get overworked. Sure Jerry makes me laugh but I always see a tendency for him to work a gag to death. Especially when he was directing himself. Listen close and you can here the sounds of his Professor Kelp coming out when he explains the workings of a television set. Keep in mind that this was one year before his most famous comedy, The Nutty Professor.
This was sadly the final theatrical film of Zachary Scott’s career. It’s proof positive that some actors just never really get past the type casting. He started out as the criminal focal point in The Mask of Dimitrios, played the ultimate cad in Mildred Pierce and even here is still looking for the easy way to make a fortune by hook or by crook. For more on Zachary please click here.
Hidden in most every Jerry film is a solid gag and this one offers us a good one where Jerry utilizes a painting to prove his theory on his hidden past. A decent effort from Jerry before the wheels seemed to fall off in the latter part of the decade.