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Hollywood or Bust [Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin]

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Hollywood or Bust, starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Pat Crowley, Anita Ekberg
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Hollywood or Bust (1956), starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Pat Crowley, Anita Ekberg

Synopsis of Hollywood or Bust

In Hollywood or Bust, Malcolm Smith is a star-struck movie fan. With his “lucky feeling” he wins a new convertible in a theater raffle.  But his ownership is challenged by compulsive gambler Steve Wiley, whose forged winning ticket will help him pay off his bookie. Steve regales a lovesick Malcolm with concocted stories about his supposed next-door neighbor, sultry actress Anita Ekberg.  They agree to share the car on a cross-country trip to Tinseltown. Steve is prevented from abandoning his traveling companion on several occasions by Malcolm’s pet dog, a Great Dane named Mr. Bascomb.

Jerry Lewis, Pat Crowley, and Dean Martin traveling across the USA in Hollywood or Bust

They bond over various adventures in New Jersey, Chicago, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. By the time they get to Las Vegas, where they meet the real Anita Ekberg and test Malcolm’s luck with craps, they have acquired a third member of their group, Terry Roberts, an aspiring dancer, who becomes romantically involved with Steve.

Review of Hollywood or Bust

Hollywood or Bust is the final Martin and Lewis comedy – and they go out on a high note.  It’s a funny comedy, fast-paced, that’s part travelogue.  They drive cross-country, giving Jerry Lewis opportunity to clown around with a variety of props and settings.  Many of the normal formulaic cliches are still in full effect here, however:

  • Dean Martin’s character is a scheming conniver trying to take advantage of Jerry.  By the midpoint of the film, he’s warmed to him and actually defends him.
  • Jerry Lewis is a lovable klutz, a naive waif that Dean can take advantage of.
  • There’s the obligatory love interest (Pat Crowley), at first cold to Dean, eventually warming to him.

Frankly, there’s a scene between Dean and Pat that’s quite disturbing.  Dean’s got Jerry out of the way (looking for warm milk) so Dean can be alone with Pat.  And when she refuses his advances, he forces himself on her.  I frankly thought it was about to turn into a rape scene.  But then, Dean rescues Jerry (who was going to milk a bull for that warm milk), and that changes Pat’s opinion of Dean.  More than a little bit creepy.

Thankfully, that’s the only negative that I have about Hollywood or Bust.

Cast of characters in Hollywood or Bust

  • Steve Wiley (Dean MartinMy Friend Irma).  The handsome young man, who’s trying to escape from his gambling debts.  He goes on a cross-country road trip with …
  • Malcolm Smith (Jerry LewisThe Stooge). An oddly lucky, star-struck young man.  He’s infatuated with the Hollywood starlet, Anita Eckberg, which Steve uses to get him to go on the trip.
  • Terry Roberts (Pat CrowleyMoney From Home).  An aspiring dancer, whom the duo picks up on their travels.  After they accidentally destroy her (comically rusty) auto.  And she starts to fall in love with Steve along the way …
  • Bookie Benny (Maxie RosenbloomRingside Maisie).  The bookie’s enforcer that Steve’s trying to get away from!
  • Anita Eckberg in Hollywood or BustAnita Ekberg (playing herself, Way … Way Out).  The famous, beautiful actress that Malcolm has an unending crush on.  And, actually gets his dreams come true when he actually meets her in California!
  • Mr. Bascomb – Malcolm’s great Dane, who helps him out multiple times,  drives the car (!) and develops a crush on Anita’s poodle!

Songs in Hollywood or Bust

Editorial review of Hollywood or Bust courtesy of

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made their last joint film appearance in the girl-filled musical Hollywood or Bust. The thinnish plot finds inveterate film fan Jerry making a cross-country journey to Tinseltown for the purpose of meeting his favorite screen star, the buxom Anita Ekberg (the film’s title, need it be added, has a double meaning). Dean goes along for the ride, hoping to expand his bankroll during a Las Vegas stopover. The boys are joined by a third traveler, an enormous Great Dane named Mr. Bascomb; along the way, the trio becomes a quartet when pretty Pat Crowley hitches a ride.

The finale takes place in Hollywood, naturally, as Jerry wreaks havoc at a film studio which looks suspiciously like Paramount. All reports indicate that Hollywood and Bust was an unhappy shoot, with Jerry Lewis behaving so obstreperously that director Frank Tashlin ordered him off the set and told him to go home until he learned to behave himself; to this day, Lewis cannot bring himself to watch the film. Happily, the animosity between the two stars never comes across on screen, and as a result, Hollywood or Bust is a most enjoyable diversion.

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