I wrote and contributed to books on film and worked in the modeling and film industries. I like to share insights into both businesses.
Jerry Lewis's comedic timing and performances are a class act, and few comedians mirror his impeccable timing. Many, many comedians copy is style. Watch his movies, and you will see several similarities among our funny guys today. Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy, the late Robin Williams, and Jim Carrey have learned from Lewis.
They followed Lewis's madcap acting because it looks easily divine. Lewis skill is a talent most performers consider daunting to give it a try. Lewis's upbringing in a vaudevillian family gave him the courage to perform the madcap characters we've come to know. His father did a great impersonation of Al Jolson on stage.
Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin
Lewis starred in 61 movies. Some of those movies he produced and directed. A vaudevillian by heart, he hooked up with Dean Martin after WW II. It was almost a fluke that they ended up as "Martin and Lewis," the best comedy duos ever.
Alan King, a well-known actor and stand-up comedian, said, "I have been in the business for fifty-five years, and I have never to this day seen an act get more laughs than Martin and Lewis. They didn't get laughs--it was pandemonium. People knocked over tables."
"Artists and Models"
They made 17 movies together as well as radio shows and nightclubs. The duo split up after ten years. Going separate their ways, and both succeeded. One notable movie they starred in together before their split is Artists and Models.
The movie had a high budget of 1.5 million and starred Shirley Maclaine and Dorthy Malone. Directed by Frank Tashlin, he worked later with Lewis on six of his solo films.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 78% rating. The story follows Rick Todd, played by Martin, and Eugene Fullstack, played by Lewis, who is his roommate. Todd is a comic-book artist. His publisher complains Rick needs to make his work gorier. Fullstack sleeps with elaborate comic-book dreams and gaudy-looking superheroes. These nightmares assist Todd, who reaches success and fame. During all this time, the men try and romance the gorgeous neighbors, played by Maclaine and Malone, next door.
Tashlin got his feet wet directing Loony Tunes. He took on Artists and Models because Lewis's character is a cartoonist. Tashlin added several gags that are still funny today.
Up until now, all Martin and Lewis movies were family orientated. Artists and Models is an adult movie with all the sexual innuendos. Particular female characters wear revealing costumes. In one scene, Malone is scantily wearing a towel that the studio allowed.
"I have been in the business for fifty-five years, and I have never to this day seen an act get more laughs than Martin and Lewis. They didn't get laughs—it was pandemonium. People knocked over tables."
— Alan King
The Nutty Professor is ingenious and nothing like Jerry Lewis Telethon. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde's theme, shines as a real comedy classic. Then, there is a love story, which makes it kind of adorably funny. The movie boasts the mercurial comedic range of Lewis. He plays a ridiculous bucktooth professor with an exaggerated low self-confidence.
"I never tell an audience what they can expect. I never have, and I never will."
— Jerry Lewis
Good Looking Man
Stella Stevens plays one of his students, who arouses his curiosity as Miss Purdy. The professor tackles his interest in Miss Purdy by stumbling on a potion. The potion changes him into a more than usually arrogant but good-looking man. He is no longer the sensitive professor that Miss Purdy so adores.
"Nothing can stop anyone who has a love and passion about their work."
— Jerry Lewis
Fantastic and Hilarious
I like watching the DVD on occasion and relish the amusing entertainment. It streams at various outlets and includes hilarious bloopers, deleted scenes, and other outtakes. The disc package also contains recordings of Jerry Lewis's phone calls. A rare find that brought me to tears because I laughed so hard - bizarre and hilarious. The recordings on the CD are Lewis recordings of private prank calls he secretly recorded.
Stella Stevens is Dynamite
A storyline with a wide range of comedic talent, Jerry Lewis is not only a goofy bucktooth professor, but he turns on the charms as an arrogant, handsome genetic afterthought. Stella Stevens is a dynamite actress, an innocent young lady, and holds her own with Lewis's mercurial acting. One of his students Miss Purdy, played by Stevens, draws his attention as she becomes interested in him. As the professor, he stumbles on a potion that can change his genetics into an overly arrogant good looking man who lacks the one thing that wins Purdy over.
"The greatest thing I can remember in my whole career was the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey clowns asking me to appear with them at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1965. "
— Jerry Lewis
© 2015 Kenna McHugh