Published on July 5, 2016
Artists and Models is a 1955 Paramount musical comedy in VistaVision and marked Martin and Lewis’s fourteenth feature together as a team. The film co-stars Shirley MacLaine and Dorothy Malone, also featuring Eva Gabor and Anita Ekberg in brief roles.
Rick Todd (Dean Martin) is a struggling painter and smooth-talking ladies’ man. His goofy young roommate Eugene Fullstack (Jerry Lewis) is an aspiring children’s author who has a passion for comic books, especially those of the mysterious and sexy “Bat Lady.”
Each night, Eugene has horrific screaming nightmares inspired by those ultra-violent comics, which he describes aloud in his sleep. They are about the bizarre bird-like superhero “Vincent the Vulture” who is, according to Eugene’s nocturnal babblings, the “defender of truth and liberty and a member of the Audubon Society” and is “half-boy, half-man, half-bird with feathers growing out of every pore” and a “tail full of jet propulsion.” Also known as “Vultureman” or more simply “The Vulture”, the golden helmeted hero soars through space from his “homogenized space station” orbiting the Milky Way to battle his shapely but sadistic purple-eyed archenemy “Zuba the Magnificent,” who hates Vincent because “she’s allergic to his feathers” and who enjoys blasting big “oooozing” holes into his highly resilient flying form (“It’ll take more than that to stop me!”) with her “atomic pivot gun.”
A neighbor in their apartment building, Abigail Parker (Dorothy Malone), is a professional artist who works for a New York comic book company called Murdock Publishing and is the creator of the “Bat Lady.” Her energetic horoscope-obsessed roommate is Bessie Sparrowbush (Shirley MacLaine), who is secretary to her publisher Mr. Murdock (Eddie Mayehoff) and Abigail’s model for the flying bat-masked superheroine. Bessie develops a crush on Eugene, who is unaware that she is his beloved “Bat Lady” in the flesh.
Abigail becomes frustrated at work at the increasingly lurid and bloodthirsty stories the money-hungry Murdock demands. She quits to become an anti-comics activist, dragging Eugene into her crusade as an example of how trashy comic books can warp impressionable minds at the same time that Rick gets a job with the company after pitching the adventures of “Vincent the Vulture” from Eugene’s dreams. Rick attains success at his new job, but after falling for Abigail he keeps his work a secret from both her and Eugene.
Unbeknownst to all, Eugene’s dreams also contain the real top-secret rocket formula “X34 minus 5R1 plus 6-X36” that Rick publishes in his stories. With spies all around them, they manage to entertain at the annual “Artists and Models Ball” and capture the enemy, preserving national security.
Dean Martin as Rick
Jerry Lewis as Eugene
Shirley MacLaine as Bessie
Dorothy Malone as Abigail
Eva Gabor as Sonia
Anita Ekberg as Anita