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Ten Thousand Bedrooms

Ten Thousand Bedrooms(1957)

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teaser Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957)

When Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin dissolved their ten year partnership after the 1956 film Hollywood or Bust, their fans felt they were making a terrible mistake. Together they had been one of the most phenomenally successful teams in show business rivaling Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in their winning shtick of comedy skits and musical numbers. But personal differences and their desire to succeed as solo entertainers resulted in both actors embarking on separate projects in 1957. Lewis received star billing for The Delicate Delinquent, a slapstick send-up of troubled youth films, while Martin turned down the lead in the film version of The Pajama Game opposite Doris Day to star in Ten Thousand Bedrooms, a featherweight romantic comedy set in Rome. Of the two films, the Lewis comedy, though a modest success, was truer to the persona of its star and boded well for Lewis's future success as a screen comedian. Martin, however, barely made an impression with moviegoers in his solo debut and for a while, it looked questionable whether the actor/singer would make it on his own.

Yet there was nothing wrong with the basic premise of Ten Thousand Bedrooms. A typically lavish "A" production from MGM, it told the story of a successful hotel mogul who decides to visit his new property in Rome. Once there he slips into playboy mode, romancing the four daughters of Italian papa Walter Slezak before pairing off with his favorite. In Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, biographer Nick Tosches wrote "Joe Pasternak, who had screen-tested and rejected Dean in 1946 and tried to sign him in 1948, was the film's producer. "We'll get the go-ahead signal after they've chosen a leading lady. It's sort of a satire on the Conrad Hilton hotel chain," Dean had told columnist Hy Gardner...I may sing one or two songs in it, but it's definitely not a musical."

But Ten Thousand Bedrooms certainly did spotlight Dino's crooning - "You I Love" and "Only Trust Your Heart" are among the songs - and the scenic beauty of Rome was another plus. For Martin, the film was practically a vacation and he brought his wife Jeannie along with him for the shoot (she was six months pregnant at the time). Martin's co-star in the film, Anna Maria Alberghetti (she would later star opposite Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella in 1960) "recalled the production as an easy one. She would remember Dean as most of those who acted with him in the years to come would also remember him: as a consummate professional, who knew not only all his own lines and cues but everyone else's as well, who at the same time overwhelmed the set with an air of artless, natural relaxation that turned work to pleasure." (from Dino by Nick Tosches).

Despite the middling box office receipts of Ten Thousand Bedrooms, most critics were kind to Martin in the reviews. Variety, for instance, deemed him "an affable leading man" for his solo effort and that he had "an easy way with a song." But it wasn't until his next feature, The Young Lions (1958), paired with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, that Martin proved he had the potential to become a first class dramatic actor should he ever abandon his singing career.

Some additional trivia on Ten Thousand Bedrooms. Paul Henreid, who appears in the supporting cast, would go on to become a director of TV shows and movies, including Dead Ringer (1964) which featured his co-star from Now, Voyager (1942) - Bette Davis. Eva Bartok, cast in the role of Maria Martelli, would later star in the cult giallo thriller, Blood and Black Lace (1964), directed by Italy's renown horror director, Mario Bava.

Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Laszlo Vadnay, Art Cohn, William Ludwig, Leonard Spigelgass
Cinematography: Robert J. Bronner
Film Editing: John McSweeney, Jr.
Music: George E. Stoll
Cast: Dean Martin (Ray Hunter), Anna Maria Alberghetti (Nina Martelli), Eva Bartok (Maria Martelli), Dewey Martin (Mike Clark), Walter Slezak (Papa Vittorio Martelli), Paul Henreid (Anton), Marcel Dalio (Vittorio Cisini), Dean Jones (Dan).

C-115m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

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