My Friend Irma (film)

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My Friend Irma
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeorge Marshall
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Written byCy Howard
Parke Levy
StarringJohn Lund
Marie Wilson
Diana Lynn
Don DeFore
Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
Hans Conried
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byLeroy Stone
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 16, 1949 (1949-08-16)
Running time
102 minutes gross = $2.8 million (US)[1]
10,247 admissions (France)[2]

My Friend Irma is a 1949 American comedy film directed by George Marshall, and is most notable as the film debut of the comedy team Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.[3] The film was released on August 16, 1949, by Paramount, and is based upon the CBS radio series My Friend Irma that first aired in 1947.


The storyline follows two women, Irma Peterson (Marie Wilson) and Jane Stacey (Diana Lynn), who room together in New York. Irma is a somewhat dim-witted blonde who deep down has good intentions. Jane is an ambitious woman who dreams of marrying a rich man. She winds up as a secretary for a millionaire, Richard Rhinelander (Don DeFore).

Meanwhile, Irma is in love with Al (John Lund), who is a con-artist looking to get rich quick. Al visits an orange-juice stand and encounters Steve Laird (Dean Martin) singing. He convinces him to leave his job and promises to make him famous. Steve and his partner Seymour (Jerry Lewis) then wind up living at Irma & Jane's apartment through the invitation of Al. She is angry, but Irma convinces her to let them stay. This opens up a romantic arc where Jane and Steve fall in love.

After a successful singing debut, Steve gets upset with Jane's wishes to marry a wealthy man and he leaves and returns to the juice stand. Meanwhile, Irma gets into a situation and decides to end her life. However, she finds out a radio station is about to call her for a $50,000 question, so she rushes home to answer the question. She wins the prize and all live happily ever after.



My Friend Irma was filmed from February 22 through April 12, 1949. Although filming was already underway, producer Hal B. Wallis thought it would be a low-risk introduction of the team of Martin & Lewis to the screen. They had been approached by several film studios before signing a five-year contract with Paramount Pictures.

Lewis was originally cast to play Al, but after the first day of screen tests it was obvious that he was wrong for the part that the studio had selected for him. Concerned that he would be left out of the film and that they were abandoning the formula that had created the Martin & Lewis team's comedic success ("handsome guy with the monkey"), a frantic Lewis quickly came up with the idea of playing a comical sidekick to Steve, and the character Seymour was written into the script. Lewis reminisces in detail about this career turning point in his book on Martin (Dean and Me) as well as his lengthy online Archive of American Television videotaped interview.

Marie Wilson, Hans Conried, and Gloria Gordon played the same characters in the movie that they did on the radio show. Felix Bressart was originally cast in the film as Professor Kropotkin, but he died suddenly during filming. His completed scenes were reshot with Hans Conried, who took over the role.


It was followed the following year by a sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West directed by Hal Walker,[4] the only sequel that Martin & Lewis ever made.

Home media[edit]

My Friend Irma has been released twice on DVD. It was originally released on a two-film collection with its sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West, on October 25, 2005. A year later, it was included on an eight-film DVD set, the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Collection: Volume One, released on October 31, 2006.[5]


In the 2002 film Martin and Lewis, a biopic about the comedy team starring Sean Hayes and Jeremy Northam. A scene from the film depicts Lewis as wanting to play the role of Al, but Wallis suggesting that he should play a new character, Seymour, instead, to which Lewis reluctantly agrees.[6]


  1. ^ "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
  2. ^ Jerry Lewis films French box office information at Box Office Story
  3. ^ "My Friend Irma". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  4. ^ "My Friend Irma Goes West". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  5. ^ "Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection - Vol. 1". Paramount Pictures. Hollywood: Viacom. 2006. ASIN B000HEWEJE. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Lewis, Jerry; Kaplan, James (2006). Dean & Me (A Love Story). New York City: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0767920872.

External links[edit]