Newest Reviews
You've Been Trumped Too
Woman in Black, The
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Kat and the Band
Perfect 10
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Traitor, The
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
  Which Way to the Front? In Jerry's War the first casualty is humour
Year: 1970
Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Jan Murray, John Wood, Steve Franken, Dack Rambo, Robert Middleton, Willie Davis, Kaye Ballard, Harold J. Stone, Paul Winchell, Sidney Miller, Joe Besser, Gary Crosby, Danny Dayton, Kathleen Freeman, George Takei
Genre: Comedy, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 2 votes)
Review: New York, 1943: billionaire playboy Brendan Byers III (Jerry Lewis) is bored with big business and seeks a challenge. Drafted into the army, Byers jumps at the chance to serve his country but is unexpectedly rejected as 4-F. Which prompts his series of weird, and not very funny, spasmodic fits and outbursts (“It’s that word - rejection. I just can’t take it!”). He’s not the only one with problems. Stand-up comedian Sid Hackle (Jan Murray) needs to escape some violent gangsters. Neurotic Peter Bland (Steve Franken) wants to get away from his monstrous wife and mother. Terry Love (Dack Rambo) has got two girls pregnant.

So Byers recruits these luckless losers, along with his right hand man Finkel (John Wood) and black chauffeur Lincoln (Willie Davis), and forms his own elite task force. Clad in bright orange jumpsuits and armed with solid gold sub-machineguns. To sweeten the deal, Byers pays each man $100,000, in cheques he’ll sign only when they return from their mission. Aboard a luxury yacht staffed by dolly birds in miniskirts (yes, I know it’s 1943...), our heroes sail to Italy where Byers plans to kidnap then impersonate Field Marshall Eric Kesselring (also Jerry Lewis), thus leading the Nazis astray. Sure enough, wackiness ensues…

A comedy misfire that borders on the surreal. Which Way to the Front? crawls by with nary a laugh to be had. Sporting a beatnik goatee, producer/director/star Jerry Lewis alternates between the laidback, debonair billionaire (coming across like a parody of the Matt Helm movies starring former partner Dean Martin) and performing those physical contortions and silly voices he’d later become castigated for. Contrary to popular belief (everywhere except France), Jerry Lewis made many fine films, from his early work with Frank Tashlin to self-directed efforts like The Family Jewels (1965), The Ladies Man (1961), The Patsy (1964), and of course The Nutty Professor (1963). By contrast, this slipshod parody of The Dirty Dozen (1967) marks the moment America fell out of love with its favourite clown.

As a filmmaker Lewis can be monumentally self-indulgent and here underlines every gag with a freeze-frame. He dwells on subplots for his supporting cast, yet these attempts at pathos grow stilted and awkward and none of their flashbacks prove relevant to the unfolding story. Yet these characters continue a theme that reoccurs throughout Lewis’ filmography, with each styled on some aspect of his personality: neurotic man-child, Las Vegas huckster, wannabe Romeo.

Several other characters, including Japanese combat instructor Yamashita (Star Trek’s George Takei) and retired mob boss Colonico (Robert Middleton) pop into the plot then abruptly disappear, leaving the impression this unwieldy movie was heavily re-edited. Production design and cinematography have a colourful comic book flavour and Jerry seems to have picked up a few camera tricks from his cameo on the campy Batman TV show.

Towards the latter half of the Sixties, Jerry Lewis seemed to be aping Peter Sellers by playing multiple character roles, and Mel Brooks by tackling “edgier” humour. A few amusing episodes occur when the disguised Byers abuses German war heroes and the team’s repeatedly botched attempts to kidnap Kesselring, but a bad taste suicide gag involving the Italian mayor’s wife (Kaye Ballard) and weak satirical jabs at Washington bureaucracy fall flat.

A late hour twist puts Byers in a pickle when he discovers the real Kesselring is part of the plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler (Sidney Miller). That’s right. Jerry Lewis got there nearly thirty years before Tom Cruise in Valkyrie (2008), although Cruise and Hitler never ran into each other’s arms in slow-motion like long-lost lovers. This encounter proves fairly funny, although the film never really ends, it just sort of stops. Of course that’s after Jerry’s embarrassing stopover in Japan where, disguised in buck teeth and thick glasses, he does everything short of screeching: “Me rike-a flied lice!”

A relatively expensive looking production, Which Way to the Front? was also the last Jerry Lewis movie for eleven years, since his legendary The Day the Clown Cried (1972) went unreleased. Compare to the threadbare production values on his comeback hit: Hardly Working (1981).

Click here to watch a clip

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 3920 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: