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The working title of this film was Route 66. Hollywood or Bust includes a prologue in which Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis play tribute to the world's motion picture audience, with Lewis impersonating American, British, Asian, French and Russian filmgoers. A July 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that Richard Morris had been signed to write the screenplay for Route 66, but he was not listed as a contributing writer in the Screen Achievements Bulletin. It was not been determined what, if any, contribution he made to the released film. Hollywood Reporter also reported in August 1955 that director Frank Tashlin was set to begin principal photography on October 15, 1955, but the picture did not begin shooting until April 1956.
According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA approved one song, "That Fortunate Feeling," a duet about gambling by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, which was not performed in the viewed print. Jerry Lewis did, however, sing a hot dog commercial jingle in Hollywood or Bust that was based on the popular children's classic, "Rock-a-bye Baby." No lyricist was credited for that composition in the MPAA/PCA file.
According to modern sources, writer Erna Lazarus had originally written a film story entitled Route 66 about a slick gambler and a forty-ish actress who jointly win a car in a lottery, with Shirley Booth and Humphrey Bogart in mind. Tashlin, however, convinced producer Hal Wallis that the story would be a perfect vehicle for Martin and Lewis. Second unit photography, at various locations throughout the United States, was done from 6 May-May 25, 1956, according to modern sources. Modern sources also state that Hollywood or Bust had the additional working titles of Beginner's Luck and Going Hollywood. In August 1999, Hollywood or Bust was among fifty films selected by Premiere magazine for inclusion on their list of underappreciated Hollywood classics.
This was the final film to feature the popular comedy team of Martin and Lewis. According to modern sources, the situation was so volatile between them during the making of Hollywood or Bust that they had stopped talking to each other, except in character during filming, and that the long-time partners had actually broken up their act prior to the release of the film. In his autobiography, Lewis claimed that the situation was so bad between himself and Martin that he began to fight with Tashlin in order to relieve the tension. In turn, Tashlin actually ordered Lewis off the set at one point, after which the comedian apologized to the director for his behavior. According to a May 21, 1956 interoffice memo from Tashlin to Wallis, reprinted in a modern source, the situation between Tashlin and Wallis was little better. In the memo, Tashlin informed Wallis that he was sure Hollywood or Bust would cut together, despite the producer's negative opinion of the rushes, and if Wallis was unsatisfied with his directing, he should terminate the director's contract.
Following the breakup of their act, Martin and Lewis began highly successful solo careers. Martin continued to be a popular film actor, television personality and recording star for many years. Lewis became a successful actor and director, as well as spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Assocation and host of their annual Labor Day telethon. In 1976, Martin and Lewis made their only public performance together following their breakup when Martin made a surprise appearance on the telethon.