Who's Minding the Store?

(Frank Tashlin, USA, 1963)


There are few comic premises more appealing to a true fan of popular culture than that which allows the maximum, physical destruction of the highest number of gadgets, constructions and inventions which our technological, industrial world holds dear.

Such inspired, gleeful anarchy was the speciality of Jerry Lewis' directorial mentor Frank Tashlin (Artists and Models, 1955).

Like Lewis after him, the final phase of Tashlin's carer showed him hardening into a certain, brittle cynicism – in direct proportion to the becoming-grotesque of his depiction of industrialised/mechanised society. (Only in his more personal graphic books could a slightly more mellow, though still pained, sensitivity emerge.)

This typical '60s comedy set in a department store alternates (like many Tashlin movies) between dopey, Hollywood-narrative filler delivered with deadpan irony, and sublime pain-and-destruction gags that merrily assault the viewer.

It is not among Tashlin's greatest, but it contains some immortal moments.

MORE Tashlin: The Disorderly Orderly

© Adrian Martin December 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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