Friday, July 19, 2013

Keep Jerry Lewis a quarter million miles away!

I've mentioned before that the Fox Movie Channel's programming philosophy seems to be one of taking movies out of the vault, running them a whole bunch of times over a period of a few months, and then putting them back into the vault. One that's in the middle of this process, having already recieved a half-dozen or more airinga over the past couple months is Way... Way Out. It's scheduled for two more showings over the weekend, at 11:40 AM Saturday (July 20) and 4:00 AM Sunday.

The scene is the US space agency, at some indeterminate point in the future. At least, the future as it would have been seen through mid-1960s eyes; the date would probably be in the past compared to 2013. The USA and the Soviet Union (remember them?) each have a base on the moon not too far from each other so that everybody can spy on everybody else. The Americans haven't been quite so successful with their lunar base, however. The problem is, they've been sending up a bunch of male astronauts, not having any female astronauts. The men wind up sex-starved. (With the film having been made in the 1960s, using a bunch of gay astronauts was not a realistic proposition.) In real life the Soviets had already launched Valentina Tereshkova into space, and they wanted the outward appearance of being advanced on sexual equality issues. So the Soviets don't seem to care whether a lone man and woman out in space decide to satisfy their physical urges by having sex.

The Americans, for their part, aren't so comfortable with such things. The space agency brass decide that, if they're going to send a man and a woman to the moon, the two had better be married so that it'll be OK when they have sex. Of course, there are problems with that. The astronaut next in line to go to the moon, Pete Mattemore (Jerry Lewis) isn't married. And, apparently, either none of the astronauts are married, or they're all deemed unsuitable for a long-term stay on the moon with their wives. (To be fair, having to train a wife for a space mission would be difficult, and if they have children, there's another big complication; see Capricorn One.) So what's a space agency to do? How about finding a wife for Pete, and sending the two of them up to the moon. With that, Pete gets put into a marriage of convenience with Eileen Forbes (Connie Stevens) and the two are put on a lunar rocket.

Once on the moon, Pete and Eileen meet their Soviet counterparts, Igor (Dick Shawn) and Anna (Anita Ekberg), and in the interests of comity and friendship between nations try to develop a good relationship with their colleagues. But there are more complications. One is that there's still a cold war back on earth, so the Americans and Soviets are officially not supposed to be too friendly with each other, as they're ostensibly trying to secure the moon for their own purposes. (The movie was made before the Outer Space Treaty was ratified, and even if it had been made after, I don't think you could expect the filmmakers to know about a treaty like that.) The other complication is that the Soviet cosmonauts have some rather interesting views on human relationships....

Way... Way Out is a Jerry Lewis movie, so you should know from the start at least part of what to expect. That having been said, he's nowhere near as good as in The Bellboy, but not nearly as irritating as in some of his other comedies. Everything else is stuck firmly in the 1960s, but since it's a film actually made in the 1960s, that's to be expected. I'm not much of a fan of current-day looks back at that turbulent time, but movies actually made then can be quite entertaining. Way... Way Out does entertain at times, and will probably entertain more if you're a Jerry Lewis fan.

I'm not sure whether it's available on DVD here in the States. Amazon lists a streaming video option and an imported DVD from Europe.

No comments: