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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

'Money From Home' BD: Martin's and Lewis' Day at the Races


Olive Films chooses wisely in selecting the Blu-ray format for the June 27, 2017 release of the 1953 Martin and Lewis comedy "Money From Home." The clownish escapades of this legendary team look terrifically vibrant in the enhanced video of BD, and the silky smooth crooning of Martin sounds wonderful in the upgraded audio.

The screaming-loud "Guys and Dolls" vibe of this '50s film set in the Prohibition-era is attributable to both "Money" and "Guys" being based on short-stories by newspaperman/fiction writer Damon Runyon. One of the most obvious Runyonesque elements of "Money" is the colorful names of the gangsters and other nefarious types in the film.

Martin plays gambler Herman "Honey Talk" Nelson (no relation to your not-so-humble reviewer), who becomes indebted to mob boss Jumbo Schneider; Sheldon Leonard (who is best known for his behind-the-scenes roles in classic sitcoms such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and I Dream of Jeannie") awesomely channels Nathan Detroit of "Guys" in portraying Schneider. The entourage of Schneider includes The Seldom Seen Kid and No-Knees Nolan.

Honey Talk has that name because of his exceptional persuasive abilities; Schneider seeks to exploit that regarding making that gambler an offer that he better not refuse. The deal is that Honey Talk must travel from New York to Maryland to attend a horse race for the purpose of fixing that competition.

In typical Martin and Lewis fashion, Honey Talk deceptively coerces his geeky veterinary intern cousin Virgil Yokum (Lewis) to accompany him to help with the scheme. Their "road" adventure starts strong with mayhem on a train that results in Honey Talk using his singing voice to enchant a group of beautiful woman and Virgil coming very close to being a bride.

A subsequently hitchhiking Honey Talk and Virgil get dual big breaks in the form of heavy drinking jockey Bertie Searles ("the guy who was in that thing" actor Richard Haydn does a great job in the role), who is set to ride the horse that Schneider wants to literally or figuratively have an unfortunate accident. Aptly opting to not look a gift horse in the mouth, Honey Talk soon presents himself as the American agent of Searles and Virgil as Searles to blonde beauty horse owner Phyllis Leigh.

Virgil joins the dating game with his very Lewisque rescue of an injured dog from the middle of a busy street brings him in contact with pretty veterinarian Autumn Claypool, for whom Virgil soon falls.

A alternate version of Western drama comes in the form of Leigh needing the income from winning the race to preserve what is left of her rapidly diminishing horse farm. For her part, Autumn is seeking funds for a new animal hospital.

Our two couples are blissfully in the pre-honeymoon stage until the arrival of Schneider and other complications create chaos that includes Leigh learning that she is being played for a patsy in what effectively is a Honey trap. This additionally brings Searles more directly in the action.

Antics during this period include Lewis putting his unique combination of comic skills to good use in hilarious lip syncing, an oblivious Searles remaining constantly intoxicated, and an extended "Scooby-Doo" style chase in a stable environment.

The big scene is the race itself; the gags and related back-and-forth come as fast and furious as the action in real horse races. The Hollywood ending involving awesome poetic justice create a true trifecta regarding this outcome, the manner in which it comes about, and virtually every character getting into the action in one form of another.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Money" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.