Most people remember Joey Bishop’s fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin as the devil may care martini-sipping host of his own long-running TV variety show in the 60s and 70s. But Dino had a surprisingly long and varied movie career, appearing in a total of 51 films.
One of his best, and Dino’s personal favorite, is 1958’s The Young Lions (which airs on AMC Friday at 9AM). In the film, Dean gets to play beside two Hollywood heavyweights, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. The film follows the destinies of two soldiers during World War II — a German officer (Brando) who ‘s become disillusioned by the war, and an ambitious gung-ho American GI (Clift). Dino is cast as the third leg of the triangle, playing a raffish would-be draft dodger who’s unexpectedly thrust into the war.
The Young Lions came at a crucial time in Martin’s career. Two years earlier, Dino had broken up with his longtime partner Jerry Lewis, and many predicted that Martin’s career as a solo act would go nowhere. Martin accepted a mere $20,000 to do The Young Lions, less than he made in a week at the Sands casino in Las Vegas, where he was a regular performer. For Martin, The Young Lions was a huge crap shoot. But Dino was nothing if not a gambler, both in the casinos and in life.
The Young Lions won Martin critical praise, with many reviewers saying how surprised they were that Dean could more than hold his own against Brando and Clift. The film remains on almost everyone’s short list of classic Dino roles.
Besides The Young Lions, here are some of Dino’s best. Don’t see your favorite? Tell us in a comment.
Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)
The Cannonball Run (1981)Read More