Living It Up (1954) - A Martin-Lewis Comedy
It's a buddy film, a fish-out-of-water story, a romance, a comedy and (with two songs from the Ben Hecht play on which it is based) something of a musical. Living It Up (1954) is further based on the 1937 Carole Lombard film, Nothing Sacred, which precedes the play. It is Jerry Lewis' and Dean Martin's eleventh feature film in five years (not counting cameos and shorts).
Perhaps it is this fast-paced, assembly line release of Martin-Lewis features that soured the New York Times reviewer on this film.There is a set persona for each man -the crooner and the comic- which facilitates churning out as many films as they did in such a short period of time. The New York Times complains that these characters are "old" and the team needs a change.
However, those of us far removed from the frenzy, who enjoy a Martin-Lewis vehicle when we please at the push of a button or the click of a mouse, never tire of them. In fact, the familiar tics and jokes make this film no less charming; they simply create a warm feeling of meeting old friends again.
In Living It Up, Lewis plays a small-town man mistakenly believed to be infected with deadly radiation poisoning. An opportunistic New York reporter, played by Janet Leigh, transports this supposedly dying man with his woman-hungry, singing doctor (Martin) to New York City to live it up while he can, while she lands the final interview of this human interest story to boost newspaper sales.
Fun scenes include Lewis trying desperately to make himself actually ill to keep the travel plans, and an empathetic waiter who ignores doctor's orders and brings Lewis vodka in a water carafe.
Martin croons his heart out to Leigh in the ballad "How Do You Speak to an Angel?," with Lewis reprising it to a picture of her, setting up tension between the two men over the same woman.
They sing "Every Street's a Boulevard" together, which is a nice little button to the film, but you wouldn't miss any song in this film if it weren't already there.
Living It Up is a funny, little film of a famous comedy team that is well worth your time.
Original New York Times Review of Living It Up