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The Robe would have been a good movie in two-dimensional black and white. In CinemaScope, which uses a wide-angle lens to throw its picture on a curved screen nearly three times the normal width, it all but overpowers the eye with spectacular movie murals of slave markets, imperial cities, grandiose palaces and panoramic landscapes that are neither distorted nor require the use of polarized glasses. In CinemaScope closeups, the actors are so big that an average adult could stand erect in Victor Mature's ear, and its four-directional sound track often rises to a crescendo loud enough to make moviegoers feel as though they were locked in a bell tower during the Angelus. Obviously, Hollywood has finally found something louder, more colorful and breathtakingly bigger than anything likely to be seen on a home TV screen for years to come.
But it has not found the answer to all of Hollywood's ills. Moviegoers may not want to be inundated with furious sight and sound every day of the week. And, impressive as is the wide CinemaScope screen, it is also curiously oppressive for eyes trained to the simpler demands of "flat," ordinary films. Can CinemaScope be used for anything except ponderous spectacles and chorus lines? Twentieth Century-Fox's Production Chief Darryl Zanuck thinks it can, and will attempt to prove his point with the soon to be released How to Marry a Millionaire, a lightweight comedy starring Marilyn Monroe. In fact, Zanuck has placed $35 million worth of eggs in his CinemaScope basket by scheduling a total of 14 pictures for wide-screen production. Already made: a sequel to The Robe called Demetrius and the Gladiators, and such swashbucklers as Prince Valiant, Hell and High Water and King of the Khyber Rifles.
The Caddy (Paramount) is about the best that can be expected these days from Comics Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a couple of wonderfully silly geese. They are at their funniest in the chummy atmosphere of a nightclub, where Dean can spread on his ultraviolet charm, and where Jerry's back teeth are as near to a customer's hand as the sugar lumps.
But their films (except for The Stooge) have tried, without notable success, to maintain the nightclub pace for a full 90 minutes. Caddy at least makes a pass, however feeble, at telling a story: Dean and Jerry, a golf pro and his caddy, are such cutups from tee-off to hole-down that they are driven off the golf courses of the nation and into show business. In transit, Jerry does a memorable song & dance routine, playing an international-set sissy, and manages not to offend because he never for an instant loses the idiotic innocence of a small boy showing the gang what his big sister does in front of the mirror.
Unfortunately the film fails, like most of its predecessors, to exploit Jerry's unusual gift for "gallows laughter," the rich, traditional Jewish humor of the schlemiel* which he is sacrificing for the easy money in pun and jargon and in the barefaced leer.