review for The Stooge on AllMovie

The Stooge (1952)
by Craig Butler review

The Stooge is an oddity in the canon of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis films in that it lacks the over-the-top freneticism that is usually associated with them (and with Lewis as a solo performer). It's also an oddity in that, intentionally or not, it seems to cut close to the bone in terms of the pair's real life relationship. And, finally, it's a drama with comic bits rather than a real comedy. It would be nice to report that this change-of-pace outing was a breath of fresh air, but while it's a pleasure to have Lewis more controlled than usual, it also must be admitted that Stooge is overall a pretty dull affair. The restrained comedy doesn't feel comfortable, and the drama is handled obviously and far too heavily. The stickiness of the climactic reunion is simply too much, and the story is too one-sided, too geared to Lewis' character. Rather than creating complex, believable characters, we're given dramatic stereotypes, and they just don't hold the screen. Martin and Lewis do well enough; they just don't have much to work with. Martin is in good voice, however, as is his paramour Polly Bergen.