Lewis & Martin’s 50’s Love Makes Today’s Bromance Look Like Bromide


This month’s Outfeatures a column by yours truly, called ‘In Defense of Jerry Lewis’, explain­ing how my child­hood love for early Lewis made me the man I am today — and why his anarchic com­edy part­ner­ship with Dean Martin in the ‘repressed’ 1950s was a kind of queer punk rock before even rock and roll had been invented:

Their heads were so close together in those tiny ‘50s cathode-ray tubes — gaz­ing into each other’s eyes, rub­bing noses, occa­sion­ally steal­ing kisses or lick­ing each other’s neck to shrieks of scan­dal­ized pleas­ure from the audi­ence. They were a prime-time study in same-sex love. And they were adored for it — lit­er­ally chased down the street by crowds of scream­ing women and not a few men…’.      (‘In Defense of Jerry Lewis’)

Though these clips below prob­ably explain it all rather better.

They also show how com­pared to Martin and Lewis, today’s much vaunted ‘bromance’ com­ed­ies are more akin to brom­ide. Lesbian bed death without the hon­ey­moon. Instead of going out of their way to purge their stage romance of any hint of pas­sion or any­thing phys­ical in the way that annoy­ingly self-conscious, college-educated 21st Century buddy com­ed­ies do (the word ‘bromance’ itself sug­gests that any hint of erot­ics would be akin to incest), Martin and Lewis’ blue-collar, mid-century love-affair con­stantly injects it. Flags it up. And slaps your face with it. Theirs is lit­er­ally a much more tick­lish affair. And a shit­load fun­nier for it.

What’s more, it looks very con­vin­cing.

(Oh, and yes, it may be that I still feel fond of Jerry Lewis because his telethons never made it to the UK.…)

An exploi­sion of D&J kisses in this cheeky and charm­ing clip painstak­ing com­piled by a YouTube fan.

‘It’s phys­ical attraction.’

The noise made by the audi­ence when Dean falls on top of Jerry in the bath wouldn’t be heard again until Elvis shook his pel­vis.

Jerry gets some big pricks in the Navy and then sprays every­where.

Dean and Jerry join the Army as para­troop­ers. Watch Dean’s eyes dur­ing the blanket scene.

‘I was loinesome.‘

Spot a (very tiny-looking) James Dean giv­ing a boxer a rub-down while scop­ing the com­pet­i­tion.

A slightly fic­tion­lised account of how our boys met, com­plete with closet clinch cli­max.

Never been kissed… Yeah, right.

Special thanks to the Canadian play­wright Elise Moore and Hannah for re-kindling my unhealthy Lewisian love-affair, offer­ing insight­ful obser­va­tion — and send­ing me some really great YouTube Martin & Lewis love.

26 thoughts on “Lewis & Martin’s 50’s Love Makes Today’s Bromance Look Like Bromide”

  1. Personally to me the chem­istry that they showed on screen was NO big brother/fatherly love it was greater then that, it was the “romantic­ally” type that in some cases it screamed s*xual ten­sion!!! See for your self by read­ing the book “Dean and me: a Love Story” which was writ­ten by Jerry Lewis, watch a bunch of clips on you tube (just watch their body lan­guage) and.… read this file that the FBI released a few years ago… http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/fbis-dean-martin-dirt-0
    I also don’t seem to see what the big deal was if they were gay and as the old say­ing goes one does not truly choose who they fall in love with. Oh by the way séance they slept and were attrac­ted to women that would make them BIS*XUAL!!!!

  2. Paul, it’s funny. Lighten-up!

    T’was a time when one of a gay man’s most endear­ing traits was his abil­ity to laugh at him­self. Self-irony seems to have been ban­ished as soon as ‘Out’ star­ted pub­lish­ing banns.

    I sup­pose you don’t like Elmer Fudd because the char­ac­ter makes fun of speech impediments.

    Scwewy wab­bit!

  3. Couple of points. We’ve talked at some length about how con­fin­ing (suf­foc­at­ing?) ‘gay’ can be. You could get away with a lot more in that pre-Stonewall period, because it wasn’t ‘so gay’. Martin and Lewis came out right on the heals of ‘Sex and the American Male’ so it wasn’t as if their audi­ence was com­pletely benighted. They’re working-class so the rules of polite soci­ety don’t apply. Their rela­tion calls to mind he con­dign homo­sexual rela­tion­ships between late 19th and early 20th cen­tury working-class blokes before they saved up enough to marry a bird. I think you wrote a piece about that at one point.

    Staying on point: I just remembered Doris’ 1964 (or 5 BS) com­edy ‘The Glass-Bottom Boat’, dir­ec­ted by Frank Tashlin, who also dir­ec­ted the Martin-Lewis movies (as well as sev­eral Bugs Bunny car­toons). Co-starring Paul Lynde and Dom Deluise. At the end i seem to recall one of them end­ing up in bed with a gen­eral — amore! Need to re-watch.

    Bugs — now there was a first-class queen: ‘my stars, look at those nails!’

  4. Oh my, what lovely art­icles. Yes, it seems to me that those ppl who claim Jerry and Milton and Bob to be homo­phobic are miss­ing the entire point, and clearly havent seen any of those old movies 😛 Cuz omg, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were totally on screen bfs too, and they, like Dean and Jerry, sadly broke up as well…

    Ravynne, who found this art­icle and shared it with me, actu­ally is the one who shared Dean and Jerry with me a couple years ago, before which I had barely even heard of them. Following that intro­duc­tion we stud­ied them reli­giously for four months straight, hardly doing any­thing else.

    Dean and Jerry’s love still con­tin­ues to hold our interest, the boys are very dear. Thank you for writ­ing these art­icles, it’s great to see that aware­ness is pick­ing up about these two. And for using my mv ^-^ It made our Halloween.

  5. Well, he did have the balls, George. Which of course then brings into doubt the rest of your logical, well reasoned and rigour­ously sup­por­ted claims.…

  6. You will not have the balls to print this but we all know that MS is a messed up bigot reek­ing of self loath­ing. A bird­brain sel­lout and fraud.

  7. But what if one suf­fers from the sick­ness of being aroused by the whole­some­ness of LGBTQ normality?

    I read AfterElton every day and get a ripe ol’ hardon for their homo-sanctity.

  8. Shame on you! You have no self-respect! You’re giv­ing us all a bad name! You should be watch­ing Milk instead. No chance of being aroused by that whole­some movie.…

  9. Can I state for the record that I am hav­ing quite sat­is­fy­ing sexual fantas­ies about the young Jerry Lewis in these clips.… and I am ashamed that I could be attrac­ted to a male who is so clearly homo­phobic as to lick another man, kiss him, be ser­en­aded by him, to fall into bed with him, or to drag him into a bath.

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