White Star presents
Dean Martin: The One and Only (2004)
"What else is there to say about me? I love to sing, and I love women."- Dean Martin
Stars: Dean Martin
Other Stars: Jerry Lewis, Greg Garrison, William Schoell, Pat Cooper, Gay Talese
Director: Marino Amoruso
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:08m:39s
Release Date: 2004-12-21
DVD ReviewIt's a measure of how cool Dean Martin was that Frank Sinatra thought he was cool—Dino and only Dino could make fun of the Chairman of the Board to his face with impunity. This worshipful portrait of the late Dean Martin doesn't overflow with insight into the man or his work, but it's full of period clips, and is a fond look back at Martin and his time, neither of which are ever coming back.
Martin was most likely the most withholding superstar of all time—his casual insouciance was both his public persona and his shield. The level of fandom here couldn't be higher—the narration is peppered with observations like "Dean Martin was and remains a megastar"—and while it isn't wrong, it doesn't tell you a whole lot, either. (If you're interested in a fuller look at Martin's life, I would heartily recommend Nick Tosches' biography of him, called Dino, the movie rights to which are owned by Martin Scorsese, though it seems to be a project languishing in development purgatory.)
The film whips pretty quickly through the biographical basics—born Dino Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, Martin is the son of a first-generation American who emigrated from Abruzzi, Italy, and found success as a barber; young Dino dropped out of high school as a sophomore, and after brief ventures as a boxer and a blackjack dealer, settled on singing. He made his New York debut when he was a late substitute in 1943 at the Rio Bamba for Frank Sinatra; but the real sparks first flew three years later, when he and Jerry Lewis teamed up, taking the entertainment world by storm. First Atlantic City, then the Copa, then Hollywood: they made sixteen movies in seven years, before their partnership flamed out in 1956.
We then follow Dean through the solo years, scoring as an actor (the breakthrough picture was The Young Lions), on television, and as sidekick to Sinatra, the Rat Pack alpha male. The biographical basics are here as well—three marriages, seven children—though the interviews with Martin and his second wife, Jeanne, are brief, canned and facile, and the talking heads here are a largely anonymous bunch without much to say. The best parts of this are the clips of Martin performing, but there aren't enough of them; too often, there's empty chatter over the music, and most of the film scenes seem to be drawn only from trailers. There's the obligatory clip from Jerry's 1976 Muscular Dystrophy telethon, when Dino surprised his former partner on stage; it was the first time they had seen one another in twenty years. But the two best moments of this documentary happen when the filmmakers stay out of the way. The first is a clip from The Sopranos, with Paulie Walnuts paying his respects to Martin; the second is Martin's unedited performance, over the closing credits, of Memories Are Made of This. Witnessing Martin at the top of his form shows us more about him and his work than any Rat Pack scholar ever could.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: An adequate transfer; the vintage clips are in various states of distress, though it's a kick especially to see bits of Martin's nighclub act, either with Jerry or as part of the Rat Pack.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Some popping and buzzing, but Dino is in good voice.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Extras Review: Only chapter stops.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA fond and sentimental look at Dean Martin, though look to Nick Tosches for a better, more thorough take on the life, and pop in your Martin CD of choice for a proper opportunity to appreciate his work.
Jon Danziger 2005-04-29