Black and white photo of singer Dean Martin smiling in a tuxedo holding a microphone on stage.
Dean Martin: King of Cool (2021) Autlook Films

ACMI presents

Dean Martin: King of Cool

Tom Donahue | U.S.A. | 2021 | Unclassified (15+)

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Fri 4 Nov - Sun 13 Nov 2022

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Tom Donahue’s feature length documentary seeks to explore and define the nature of Dean Martin’s charisma and talent beyond his '60s Rat Pack persona.

[Grasps] an elusive, sophisticated icon and the mercurial nature of ‘cool'.

The Wall Street Journal

Dean Martin was undeniably brilliant, dominating the landscape of popular culture for decades. He was a master of improvisation, a giant of comedic timing, a movie star, consummately elegant and one of the smoothest crooners of the 20th century. Tom Donahue’s multi-layered portrait of Martin – born Dino Crocetti in 1917 to first generation Italian Americans who moved to Steubenville, Ohio from Abruzzo, Italy – explores the nature of Martin’s talent and his enduring cultural relevance as a one-of-a-kind ‘King of Cool’.

Donahue’s expansive film charts a course through Dean Martin’s breathtakingly versatile career, from his early years performing with bands in the Swing era, his career-defining show business partnership with Jerry Lewis, the move to Hollywood on the back of a lucrative contract with Paramount and the 16 Martin-Lewis films that followed, the acrimonious split with Lewis and move into ‘serious’ Hollywood films – Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando insisted Martin be cast alongside them in The Young Lions (1958) – all before his ascension to ‘the apex of nightclub culture’ as a member of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. at The Sands in Las Vegas and the record-breaking, decade-long television career that followed as the charismatic host of The Dean Martin Show, which featured a roster of guests from Orson Welles to musical and comedic talents including Peggy Lee and Dom DeLuise.

Interviews with long-time friends including his Rio Bravo co-star, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Rush, who played his love interest in The Young Lions, comedians Bob Newhart and Carol Burnett, daughter Deana Martin, contemporary admirers, Alec Baldwin and Mad Men’s Don Draper, Jon Hamm – among many notable others including singer Frankie Avalon and director Barry Levinson – contribute to an intimate and revealing portrait of Martin’s life, charismatic personality and legacy.

– Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film

Format: DCP
Language: English
Source: Autlook Films
Courtesy: Autlook Films
Runtime: 102 min

Event duration

75 mins


Unclassified (15+)


General $9
ACMI Member $7

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