Cast & Crew
At a Navy recruiting station, bumbling, allergy-plagued Melvin Jones meets Al Crowther, a handsome crooner and ladies' man. Al is applying for the eleventh time because he likes the attention that women, like entertainer Hetty Button, his latest conquest, give him when they think he is about to ship out, but is sure his trick knee will prevent him from passing the Navy's physical exam. To Melvin's and Al's surprise, the Navy passes them both and sends them to a training camp in San Diego, along with Petty Officer Lardoski, a bully whom Al and Melvin have already antagonized. At camp, Melvin is terrified at having his blood drawn during the routine physical and runs into Red Cross nurse Hilda Jones's office to hide. Unknown to Melvin, Hilda mans the local blood bank and assumes he has come to donate. After Melvin gives blood to please Hilda, who is attractive to him because she wears little makeup, something to which he is violently allergic, he is forced back to the physical, but baffles the staff with his now-bloodless veins. Later, the men are trained in ship procedures, and Melvin manages to sink his rowboat. As punishment, Lardoski cancels all of the recruits' liberty, but when Al is asked to sing on a television show as a Navy representative, he agrees on condition that liberty be reinstated. Lardoski gives in, and on his way into town, Melvin meets Hilda and invites her to watch Al perform. At the television station, Al and Melvin end up singing together, and Melvin is cajoled into judging a kissing contest sponsored by the "Tempting Kiss" cosmetics company, the first prize of which is a trip to Honolulu. Because of his allergies, Melvin cannot stand being near the eager, made-up participants and dashes out of the studio. The women pursue him into another studio, where bathing suit models, including a girl Lardoski fancies, are strutting for the cameras. Lardoski's girl kisses Melvin, to the consternation of Lardoski, who is watching the broadcast in a bar. Melvin finally is cornered outside the television station and kisses Hilda to end the contest. Despite being named the winner, Hilda is furious at Melvin for allowing dozens of women to kiss him, and storms away. Barely able to breathe, Melvin is carted off to the base hospital, and during his recuperation, Al and the other recruits bet Lardoski that Melvin can procure a kiss from French movie star Corinne Calvet, who is performing in Honolulu, where they are being shipped. Later, after Melvin reluctantly agrees to try to win the bet, Al breaks the news that their ship is a submarine. At sea, the claustrophic Melvin creates havoc in the cramped quarters and is assigned to swab the deck as punishment. When the commander orders a routine dive, Melvin is left topside and has to climb the conning tower to keep from drowning before being rescued. Upon docking in Honolulu, the recruits are given shore leave and scurry to the hotel nightclub where Corinne is singing. There, Melvin runs into Hilda, who is still mad at him. After the sailor-hating Corinne rejects Lardoski's advances, Melvin tries unsuccessfully to woo her at her table. Melvin then gets into a confrontation with another sailor who makes a pass at Corinne, and the recreation supervisor decides to pair the two in a boxing match. Before the fight, Al encourages the terrified Melvin to think like a real boxer, and when his opponent hears Melvin talking like a tough professional, he panics and asks his brother, Killer Jackson, to fill in. To Melvin's horror, Jackson is a seasoned pro, but Melvin lands a couple of lucky punches and knocks him out. Aware that Lardoski has ordered the shore patrol to apprehend him before he finds Corinne at a beach luau, Melvin sneaks out of the gym and disguises himself as a rickshaw driver. Al, meanwhile, sings a romantic ballad at the luau, and when Corinne hears him, she starts to fall for him. As Al is about to kiss Corinne, her secretary interrupts to reveal that the sailors have made a bet that one of them will kiss the star. Assuming that Al is the sailor, Corinne leaves, disgusted. Melvin then dresses up like a male hula dancer to elude Lardoski and the shore patrol, but is identified when his grass skirt falls off, revealing his sailor pants. After a brief but frantic chase, Lardoski corners Melvin, but Corinne intercedes, believing the skinny sailor is an innocent boy. Corinne kisses Melvin on the cheek, and Melvin declares that he has won the bet. Vindicated, Al makes up with Corinne, while Hilda finally forgives Melvin. When they return to the San Diego pier, however, Hetty is waiting and overhears Al giving Corinne his standard farewell line. After Hetty angrily accuses Al of two-timing her, Al runs away and is joined by the devoted Melvin.
Louis Jean Heydt
Darren F. Dublin
C. W. Richey
The Marimba Merrymakers
Alfred Reiff Sr.
Alfred Gino Reiff Jr.
John E. Woodd
C. C. Coleman
Daniel L. Fapp
Joseph H. Hazen
Joseph J. Lilley
At the time of Sailor Beware, Martin and Lewis were at the peak of their popularity in a career that would ultimately span eleven years and sixteen movies together. They cranked out one hit after another, making That's My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1953), Sailor Beware, and Jumping Jacks (1952) all within one 15-month period. The winning formula, according to Jerry Lewis himself in his 1982 book Jerry Lewis in Person, was always the same: "Keep it zany and get it in the can on time."
Sailor Beware had originally been conceived as a sequel to an earlier Martin and Lewis comedy called At War With the Army (1950) and was to be titled At Sea With the Navy. Paramount, home to all of the Martin and Lewis movies, instead decided to rehash an old plot about a sailor who bets he can get a public kiss from an icy beauty queen. The story had already been filmed three times before at Paramount as The Fleet's In (1942), Lady Be Careful (1936) and True to the Navy (1930). It was a formula that worked, and director Hal Walker knew what the fans wanted.
br> Sexy French actress Corinne Calvet appears as herself, delivering a memorably throaty rendition of the song "Merci Boucoup." Calvet had previously appeared with Martin and Lewis in their 1950 film My Friend Irma Goes West. According to her autobiography Has Corinne Been a Good Girl?: The Intimate Memoirs of a French Actress in Hollywood, Calvet liked Dean Martin, finding him "self-assured and quiet." Jerry Lewis, on the other hand, "was exactly the opposite, nervous and trying to override his shyness by flattering and entertaining everyone around him. He seemed to be afraid of silence, to feel compelled to fill the empty spaces. I was sensitive to his great anxiety, his wanting to be liked by everyone."
Jerry Lewis' manic slapstick almost single-handedly keeps this Navy comedy afloat. Despite their eventual split, however, Lewis was always quick to point out Dean Martin's often overlooked contribution to their success. "Imagine a day at the circus," Lewis writes, "¿There at the center ring, is the flyer winging his way high up on a trapeze while thousands watch his every move, not realizing that if it weren't for the catcher below, the flyer would be nothing. And Dean was my catcher¿the greatest straight man in the history of show business."
Sailor Beware is Martin and Lewis at their zany best. Be sure to watch for future Rebel Without a Cause (1955) star James Dean during the boxing match sequence in the opponent's corner. Movie star Betty Hutton also appears in a cameo as Dean Martin's home town girlfriend "Hetty Button."
Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Director: Hal Walker
Screenplay: Kenyon Nicholson (play), Charles Robinson (play), Elwood Ullman, James B. Allardice, Martin Rackin
Cinematography: Daniel L. Fapp
Film Editing: Warren Low
Art Direction: Henry Bumstead, Hal Pereira
Music: Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Leigh Harline, Joseph J. Lilley
Cast: Dean Martin (Al Crowthers), Jerry Lewis (Melvin Jones), Marion Marshall (Hilda Jones), Robert Strauss (Lardoski), Leif Erickson (Cmdr. Lane), Don Wilson (Mr. Chubby).
by Andrea Passafiume
The working title of this film was At Sea with the Navy. Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgment: "Parts of this motion picture were photographed aboard United States Naval vessels and in Naval shore installations. We are sincerely grateful to the United States Navy and the Department of Defense for making this possible." According to a January 1951 Los Angeles Times news item, producer Hal Wallis conceived Sailor Beware as a sequel to Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin's hit film At War with the Army, which was released generally by Paramount in 1951 . Kenyon Nicholson and Charles Robinson's play Sailor, Beware!, which Paramount had owned for many years, is not mentioned in pre-production news items as the story's source and May not have been the original inspiration for the film. The Variety reviewer described the film as a "cleaned-up version of the stage hit" and commented that "only a thread of that original" was contained in the script. According to the New York Times review, the only aspect of the play retained in the film was the "business toward the end when it is bet that Mr. Lewis can't kiss Corinne Calvet."
Sailor Beware marked the screen debut of James Dean. According to modern sources, Lewis gave Dean his role, which included one line of dialogue. Hollywood Reporter news items announced Richard Blaydon, Richard Benedict, Willie Davis, John Indrisano and Robert Board as cast members, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. News items indicate that scenes were shot in San Diego, CA, and at the Naval Station in Long Beach, CA. According to a ParNews item, the submarine used in the picture was the U.S.S. Bashow. Copyright publicity material includes "Say Si Si," "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" and "Motoras Rahi" in the film's song roster, but those numbers were not sung in the viewed print. According to modern sources, the boxing scene was "written" by Lewis, who demanded an extra $50,000 for it, which he then donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Modern sources also note that Sailor Beware was the first Martin and Lewis picture to be dubbed into French. Lewis became a comic favorite among French critics.
Paramount produced two earlier versions of Nicholson and Robinson's play: In 1936, Theodore Reed directed Lew Ayres and Mary Carlisle in Lady Be Careful (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40); and in 1942, Victor Schertzinger directed Dorothy Lamour and William Holden in The Fleet's In, which was based on the play and a 1928 Paramount film, also titled The Fleet's In (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 and 1941-50). Betty Hutton, who had an unbilled role as "Hetty Button" in Sailor Beware, also appeared in the 1942 version.