It's incredible in these roasts to see the greats lined up on the dais. To listen to the humour akin to thinking out loud with no regard for what's correct to joke about. It's old era ... See full summary »
The Celebrity Roasts were heavily scripted and represented the last gasp of the venerable The Dean Martin Show (1965), which began on NBC in 1965. The first deviation from Martin's variety format began in the ninth season, when Hugh Hefner was "roasted". The roast format consumed the show in the tenth season, but as the season progressed Martin, never overworked, seemed stressed with personal problems related to marriage with Kathy Hawn (they divorced in 1976). Many "reaction" shots of Martin on the later roasts would actually be edited from earlier roasts (relatively easy due to him wearing a trademark tuxedo). The last roastee would be Michael Landon, an encore appearance. See more »
From the beautiful Ziegfeld room in Las Vegas Nevada, Dean Martin welcomes some of the greatest celebrities from all over the world (all of them American). As usual the Roastmaster is the only one not to rehearse, and Sinatra helps him out with the auto cue. George Burns gets the first turn roasting 'The Leader' and settles down to take a little nap after-wards. See the honorable Ronald Reagan, then former governor of California and ultimate nice guys Jimmy Stewart & Gene Kelly trying to be funny and mean. This turns out to be impossible for both of them, so Jimmy reads one of his poems while Gene ends up showing old movie clips (that get so much applause you might think Gene and Frankie were dancing there on stage). They might as well have tried telling jokes, for none behind the dais dare to be caught with their mouth closed, or even smiling: they have to be grinning or falling over laughing all the time. Orson Welles especially looks like hes weeping.
Always uncomfortable playing themselves, Dom Deluise and Jonathan Winters pretend to be Sinatra's personal chef and ex-chauffeur. Milton Berle takes the opportunity to insult the man formerly known as 'The Lean Lark' as well as the three African American Roasties: Flip Wilson, LaWanda Page and Redd Foxx. Although they get their chance to retaliate, none of them seems to get more than a minute of air time. By comparison Peter Falk is on for over fifteen minutes, stealing the show after unexpectedly turning up in the audience as Lt. Columbo. After him, the equally unannounced Ruth Buzzi as Gladys Ormfby and Charlie Callas as a mob boss simply cannot compete. Strangely enough Buzzi (who managed to fire of some of the raunchiest jabs) keeps her Gladys outfit on for the rest of the evening, while Peter and Charlie change into a tux. Another nice surprise is when Ernie Borgnine reprises the part of Fatso from "From here to eternity".
TV stars Telly Savalas and Jack Klugman don't have much to add, but Orson Welles talks eloquently about "the world's first finger snapping pope" and speaks a bit of Italian. Red Buttons does not look very happy to follow him, but still manages to get some of the biggest laughs, with Klugman and Fatso jumping up from the table with mirth (of course they had been sitting there for over an hour by this time). Indeed, the show does seem to go on forever, with one tux taking it's turn on the dais after the other. Something like this could never be done nowadays, but back in the seventies a TV special with so many big name stars reaching back all the way to the forties really was something to stay home for. Still, the yap yap yapping just goes on and on and on and you know we ain't there yet as long as there are still people sitting there, blowing smoke till it's their turn.
Rich Little comes up from off stage, of maybe he was just sitting at the very end of the table, and proceeds to impersonate everybody who came before (except Swoonatra himself). A special surprise guest is Ol' blue Eyes' favourite body guard Gilly (a name that often slipped into his lyrics, like on his rendition of 'Mrs Robbinson'). Don Rickles is the final roaster (but makes sure to tell us he's just kidding), before Dean proclaims his Pallie Frank not just the man of the hour, but of the century. In return 'The Voice' spills the beans on Deano by saying his drunk act is just that. Frankie always had to have the last laugh. He was the first member of the Ratpack and the last to go. Speaking of the Pack: apparently Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop were out of favour in 1977, for neither of them got an invitation.
8 out of 10
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