Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Artists and Models (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Artists and Models (1955)

In director Frank Tashlin's zany, colorful, low-brow, odd-couple musical comedy Artists and Models - it was the first of two Martin and Lewis films that he directed (the second was the duo's final film Hollywood or Bust (1956)), and it was the duo's 14th feature film in a series of silly comedies; Tashlin was known for animated cartoons and his creative sight gags and frenetic action in this pop-art movie with primary colors that reflected his creative style; one of Dean Martin's signature songs, the major hit "Innamorata" was featured in this film; it was a mostly-unrelated remake of Paramount's musical Artists and Models (1937) starring Jack Benny and Ida Lupino:

  • the film opened with the title song "Artists and Models" (sung by Dean Martin) under the title credits, with the following lyrics: "You can trace the mystery of ancient history through art of artists and their models, you can comb through the Rome Coliseum in the rear of your nearest museum there's the Mona Lisa, the Tower of Pisa a cowhand's daughter out in Texas, and there's modern art to see that makes you wonder what the heck it's meant to be..."

Billboard Artist/Painter Richard 'Rick' Todd (Dean Martin)

Eugene Fullstack (Jerry Lewis)

The Messed Up Billboard Demonstration
  • in the first scene, struggling painter and aspiring artist Richard "Rick" Todd (Dean Martin) was painting the bright red lips of an open-mouthed female on a gigantic 'smoking' billboard (an advertisement for 'smoking' cigarettes)
  • his geeky best friend and goofy roommate, Eugene Fullstack (Jerry Lewis) was serving as his work assistant; Eugene was an aspiring children's book writer-author who had become avidly obsessed with reading 'Bat Lady' comic books; on the job, he became distracted and messed up the smoke machine, ending up with it sucking him and his large comic collection into the mouth of the machine, and splattering paint below onto advertiser Mr. Trimm (Ralph Dumke) and Rick's boss Mr. Kelly (Emory Parnell) - the two workers were promptly fired and were soon perusing the want ads for employment
  • Rick was incensed with Eugene and blamed him for losing his latest job: "Every time I find a job, you lose it. Bat Lady! You and your crummy comic books, that's all you ever think about!"; they had come from Steubendale, OH (aka Steubenville) to NYC to share a 3rd floor apartment in a Greenwich Village building, and Rick had again lost another job on account of Eugene's crazed and passionate fixation for the 'Bat Lady' comics; they were on the verge of poverty (but Eugene easily pretended that the one bean he was eating, with a healthy dose of ketchup, was actually a juicy steak)
  • the very frustrated, broke and desperate Rick threatened to leave and seek a "divorce" from his pal: ("A divorce is the only way out"), and began packing his bags, but then relented and changed his mind
  • infantile-minded Eugene was living in a fantasy, "make-believe" world (to shield him from real-life): "I have everything when I'm pretending. See, I'm just making believe that we're both very rich, wealthy millionaires with money. And you're a very, very famous artist, and I'm a very famous writer, see, and I'm just making believe that we're not even eating beans, just a big juicy steak...You have to pretend, 'cause when you pretend, your dreams come true. It's just like wishing"
  • Eugene's words prompted him to sing (with a make-believe piano): "When You Pretend": "Although you're stuck with beans, there's money in your jeans when you pretend... life is filled with happy endings when you pretend"
  • the big pretender Eugene's wish for a "big juicy steak" came true when he caught a piece of meat thrown out the window of an upper-floor neighbor during a couple's spat, and, of course, Rick believed Eugene was still 'pretending'
  • during the night in their shared bedroom, Rick was awakened by Eugene's screamed, fantastical babblings and sleep-talking "bad dream" rants; his loud outbursts were the offshoot of his pre-sleep reading of comic books that fueled his imagination
  • Eugene's fully-developed and highly-charged, comic-book fantasy story-plots in his dreams were about a garishly-costumed, bird-like interplanetary space superhero and feathered adventurer known as "Vincent the Vulture": ("Defender of truth and liberty...he's half boy, half man, half bird"); the Vultureman was flying back to his "homogenized space station" orbiting the Milky Way when he was attacked during a gory battle by a voluptuous, beautiful but diabolical female opponent with three purple-colored eyes known as "Zuba the Magnificent" who was "allergic to his feathers"; Zuba was armed with fangs and a lethal "atomic atomizing pivot gun" to steal Vincent's "secret power formula: X34 minus 5r1 plus 6-x36"; later, Eugene explained how he never remembered what he was dreaming
  • due to his loud babblings, Eugene was keeping both Rick and other tenants in the Greenwich Village apartment building awake at night, especially after moving to sleep on the outdoor fire escape; the exasperated landlady Mrs. Muldoon (Kathleen Freeman) warned Eugene at his door: ("Any more noise, and you're gonna be using the curb for a pillow")
  • a few moments later, Eugene knocked on the door of the two roommate-tenants on the 4th floor directly above them, who were up in the middle of the night working: successful, pretty blonde, professional comic artist-cartoonist Abigail 'Abby' Parker (Dorothy Malone) who illustrated the 'Bat Lady' comics, and her 'Bat Lady' model Bessie Sparrowbrush (Shirley MacLaine); Eugene was so flabbergasted when 'Bat Lady'-costumed Bessie (wearing a black mask and bat wings as part of her superheroine outfit) answered the door that he immediately rushed downstairs in a flurry to awaken Rick with the news
  • Eugene sounded totally confused when he tried to describe how after he met the 'Bat Lady' on the 4th floor, he had mistakenly rushed to the 2nd floor and barged into a "Fat Lady's" (Martha Wentworth) apartment and had upset her: ("Upstairs is the Bat Lady. She scared me, so I ran downstairs to the fat lady")
  • meanwhile later that night in their apartment, the horoscope-obsessed Bessie told Abby that she had just met her true love (Eugene), due to her promising astrological readings: "I saw him for the first time tonight. He's the one, my true love...The stars don't lie"; she felt he wasn't very handsome, but at least he was "the safe kind...The not-so-handsome kind make the best husbands. Other women don't want them"
Director Frank Tashlin's Obsession with The Female Figure: Legs, Breasts, etc.

Abby's Legs While Wrapped in a Towel After a Shower

Bessie's Breasts

Model Anita's (Swedish Anita Ekberg, Miss Sweden 1950) Breasts

Sonia's Bust
  • the next morning, Abby met in a 'Bat-Lady' decorated office with her comic book and pulp editor-publisher boss Mr. Murdock (Eddie Mayehoff); he brutally criticized her as a writer and artist for not incorporating any gore, violence, and blood into the comic-book stories: "62 pages of drawings and no blood? Not even an itsy-bitsy nosebleed?"; he wanted "stranglings" and "decapitations," and was worried his publishing company would fail and he would antagonize his wife Edith's bloodthirsty wishes: ("If sales don't pick up, she's gonna give me the ax"); he explained how disturbed he was that there was more blood on TV - their major competitor: ("Do you realize Abigail, night before last, I counted 13 murders, 4 stabbings, 9 suffocations, and 6 poisonings on two channels in one hour! And another thing. Just you think of this, girl. When they're able to show that blood, that red blood gushing out of open wounds in spectacular color. Ohh! And they'll get it free, right into their living rooms there, free, right into the living rooms, sponsored by those friendly used car dealers")
  • Abigail refused, on ethical grounds, to submit to Murdock's insistent mercenary demands for more violence and bloody gore in the stories and promptly quit: ("Get yourself another artist, someone who can bleed to suit your wife")
  • in the lobby of the 'Bat-Lady' office, the scatter-brained, sexy Bessie was employed as Murdock's secretary; when Rick and Eugene arrived to speak to Abigail who was still in Murdock's inner office, Bessie realized that Eugene was love-struck with her 'Bat-Lady' persona and described herself to try to get him more interested in her normal persona: "She's a living doll"; she also claimed that she knew the character "intimately"
  • after Abigail's firing, Rick saw an opportunity to be hired as Murdock's new comic-book artist and author; in the film's most obvious sight-gag, he encouraged Eugene to lock lips with Bessie (and pretend that she was the 'Bat Lady') in order to be considered for the job: ("It's smart business to get in good with the boss' secretary") - the duo's smooch caused the office's water cooler to boil over; Eugene also mistakenly kissed Abby when she stormed out of Murdock's office while Rick quipped: ("I wouldn't have sent a boy to do a man's job"); it was the very masculine Rick who took a romantic interest in Abigail and began to flatter her as she left and fled to the elevator: ("Sure love the way you draw the Bat Lady"), but she tried to brush him off

Kissing and Causing Water Cooler to Boil

Eugene Mistakenly Kissing Abigail
  • Mr. Murdock was interested in Eugene's talents as a writer, but not in his childrens' book characters: "Little Goosey Goose and little Freddie Field Mouse who live in a little corn field"
  • a sub-plot in the film was the vilification of 1950s comic books that were considered trash at the time that threatened to corrupt young people's "undeveloped" minds; a concerned mother named Mrs. John Stilton (Sara Berner) arrived in the office with her misbehaving son Richard (George 'Foghorn' Winslow') and complained about "the effects your horror literature has on undeveloped minds!"; young Richard expressed how he wanted the 'Bat Lady' stories to be even more violent and bloody: "Who cares about the Bat Lady? She's too tame. She stinks. No blood. I like blood" - he dangerously wielded a knife-like letter opener in the office
  • in front of the Village Model Agency, Rick sweet-talked Abigail: "Look, you're an unemployed artist, and I'm an unemployed artist. How about we get together and rattle our palettes around?"; Rick convinced her to hire him as a male model for an advertising layout - it was his perfect opportunity to continue seeing her, although she fended off his advances: ("I don't want to be kissed by you"); he tried to woo her with a song: "You Look So Familiar"
  • a slapstick sequence showed Eugene breathlessly climbing up and down two flights of stairs to relay phone messages to Rick who was taking a bath in their apartment; he was so winded that he had to pantomime the location of the meeting - the Stork Club; Mr. Murdock met with Rick for lunch to hire him for Abby's old job; without Eugene's or Abby's knowledge, Rick accepted the job offer from Murdock and proposed Eugene's dreamt-up character 'Vincent the Vulture' as the new story-line; he planned on using the violent plots of Eugene's nightmares as his subject matter - to fit the increasing demand for gore; Rick was buoyantly happy and sang: "The Lucky Song"
  • on a KTEV Channel 2 television show, Eugene joined ex-comic-book artist and writer Abby, now an anti-comic books activist, on a talk show panel sponsored by the Better America Forum on the "monumental problem" of violent and gory content in comic-books targeted at American children created by "unscrupulous publishers" [Note: the sequence was a satire of Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver's televised subcommittee hearings on juvenile delinquency held in the spring of 1954 on violent comic books, and their negative contributory influence on homosexuality (then considered a mental illness), violent crime, and more]
  • the topic of the panel was "the ever-growing threat and menace of the cheap pulps found on all news-stands masquerading under the titles of comic books"; Eugene had been invited to share his first-hand experience of "what can happen to the human brain on a steady diet of comic books," and explained how he had rejected his own previous love for comic-books because they had warped his mind: "I'm here to tell you how bad comic books are for you...I almost became a dope, reading comic books and I realized that, that is why I am now a little retarded"
  • story-writer Eugene and illustrator Abby collaborated together on his children's books (about 'Goose and Fieldmouse'), while each night, Rick took advantage of Eugene by transcribing his violent nightmares, and submitting the material as his own work for a new comic-book series known as 'Vincent The Vulture' for Murdock

Rick Singing "Innamorata" to Abby Before Kissing Her

Bessie Singing "Innamorata" to Eugene
  • still interested in wooing Abby, however, Rick rubbed suntan oil into her back as he sang "Innamorata" to her - she didn't realize it was him because he had switched places with Bessie, but she was pleasantly surprised and kissed him; the heartbroken Bessie reprised "Innamorata" while physically cornering and assaulting Eugene and forcing him to kiss her, but he didn't respond the way she wanted without her 'Bat Lady' costume
  • Eugene required a massage after he stiffened up while posing for Abby; at the Eureka Massage Parlor during a chiropractic session (with wildly sexual overtones) with three masseuses on a table, his legs were bent backwards and turned into exaggerated and wildly-contorted body parts; Rick ended up being entwined on the table with the three ladies while Eugene left the parlor without him
Eugene's Hilarious Chiropractic Session
  • the first published 'Vincent the Vulture' comics, with a secret mathematical rocket fuel formula (a national secret) in the plot, were extremely popular with young fans; however, in the current Cold War era, the military feared that their rocket fuel formula was being made available to the Soviets: ("This may be a clever way of conveying our secrets to the enemy")
  • the Russians deployed their own secret weapon -- seductive foreign Agent Sonia (Eva Gabor), who arrived at Eugene's door looking for his roommate Rick Todd; the blonde Hungarian was posing as Mrs. Curtis
  • meanwhile, Mr. Murdock was exhilarated by sales of the new comic book series, and other merchandise - no-rust Vulture brass knuckles, and a plastic "death-dealing disintegrator atom gun"; however, the guilt-ridden Rick (who felt that he had betrayed both Eugene and Abby by stealing his roommate's dream-stories) announced to Murdock that he was quitting the lucrative business without explaining why
  • in a short sequence that was a parody of Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), two Secret Service men were spying on Rick from a 'rear window' across the street, with one of their voices (Richard Shannon) resembling Jimmy Stewart's; Rick met with the Secret Service and the FBI and promised to cooperate, prevent the Soviets' spy efforts, and to help them keep Eugene quiet: ("We don't want him dreaming for our enemies")
  • in Rick's apartment, the sexy Mrs. Curtis/Sonia attempted to seduce him by posing for him and encouraging him: "Could you start working on me right now?"; her sexy come-on was interrupted by the arrival of Abigail; Rick's attempt to hide Sonia in the back bedroom failed, and Abigail furiously stormed from the room
  • a masked Artists and Models Ball was scheduled for the evening, and Eugene expectantly dressed up so that he could meet his true love - the costumed 'Bat Lady'; there was a brief double-entendre sexual joke and old vaudeville gag (amongst many others in the film) about his tuxedo's shirt dickey (his starched false shirt front) that kept popping up - like an erect phallus - as he thought about the 'Bat Lady' - ("I can't keep this dickey down, Ricky")
  • the audience observed the final performance - a marvelous musical production number ("Artists and Models") on the set of a gigantic artist's painting palette (with large tufts of colored tulle fabric representing various colored blotches or pots of paint); Eugene and Rick reprised the song as gorgeous models rose up from the piles of fabric - but only from the ones that Rick selected
"Artists and Models" Production Number
  • in the audience, Rick painted the bare back of one of the audience members - an obvious nod to Ugetsu (1953, Jp.), while Eugene only painted his own thumb on another back
  • during the Ball, Sonia and her spy gang abducted Bessie and stole her clothes in order to impersonate her and dress in her costume; after the show, Sonia - costumed as the 'Bat Lady' - enticingly kidnapped Eugene (who was wearing his Freddie the Fieldmouse costume); by now, she had learned that he was the actual source of the 'secret-formula' stories; Eugene was taken to the Soviets' hideout-mansion - Sonia called it her "love nest"
  • at the spies' locale, Eugene was drugged with doctored champagne, went into his dream-land, and was about to recite the complete secret formula; he was rescued by Rick and a recently-freed Bessie who had followed them in a taxi. Eugene was brought to life and powerfully re-energized by Bessie's true-love kiss and was able to vanquish all of the spies (and also some of the members of the Secret Service and NYPD) by knocking them out with potent punches

Bessie's Rejuvenating Kiss for Eugene

The Couples Finally Together

Wedding Bells
  • Eugene finally realized that Bessie was his true 'Bat Lady' love from his dreams. They hurriedly returned to the stage of the Artists and Models Ball - where the two reunited couples sang: "There always comes a time for wedding bells to chime." Eugene pointed to Abby next to Rick: "She's his!", while Bessie asserted to Eugene: "You're mine!" They miraculously transformed into wearing marital clothes for a double wedding as they sang the final line of the song: "When You Pretend": "For life is filled with happy endings when you pretend"

Colorful Opening Credits

Rick's Anger at Roommate Eugene For Losing Another Job for Them

Eugene Singing: "Let's Pretend"
Eugene's Midnight Mind Ramblings

Eugene's Bed Littered with Ultra-Violent Comic Books that Fueled His Imagination

(l to r): Comic Artist Abigail 'Abby' Parker (Dorothy Malone) and Her 'Bat Lady' Model Bessie Sparrowbrush (Shirley MacLaine)

'The Fat Lady' From the 2nd Floor Upset and Angry at Eugene For Barging Into Her Bedroom

Abby's Meeting with Her Demanding Comic Book Publisher Mr. Murdock (Eddie Mayehoff) in His 'Bat Lady' Office, Who Wanted Gore and Violence in the Stories

Bessie Describing Herself as 'The Bat Lady': "She's a living doll"

An Example of a Comic Book-Corrupted Youth Richard Stilton (George 'Foghorn' Winslow')

Rick Posing as Abigail's Model - and Romancing Her at the Same Time

Eugene on TV Panel About the Ill Effects of Comics: "I'm here to tell you how bad comic books are for you"

Rick Transcribing Eugene's Dreams of Superhero Vincent the Vulture

Rick Rubbing Lotion into Abby's Back

Abby Illustrating Eugene's Childrens Books

Sales of the Immensely-Popular Vincent the Vulture Comic Books

The Secret Rocket Formula in the 'Vincent' Comics

Military General Dismayed to See the Secret Rocket Formula in a Comic Book

Foreign Soviet Agent Sonia (Eva Gabor) with Eugene

The 'Rear Window' Parody

Sonia Seductively Posing For Rick

Sexual Joke: Eugene's Uncooperative Dickey

A Painted Back - The Film's Reference to the Japanese Film Ugetsu (1953, Jp.)

Sonia - Dressed as 'the Bat Lady' to Seduce and Drug Eugene - And Learn the Entire Secret Rocket Formula


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