DISORDERLY ORDERLY, THE
(director/writer: Frank Tashlin; screenwriters: story by Ed Haas and Norm Liebmann; cinematographer: W. Wallace Kelley; editor: John Woodcock; music: Joseph J. Lilley; cast: Jerry Lewis (Jerome Littlefield), Glenda Farrell (Dr. Jean Howard), Everett Sloane (Mr. Tuffington), Karen Sharpe (Julie Blair), Kathleen Freeman (Maggie Higgins), Susan Oliver (Susan Andrews), Del Moore (Dr. Davenport), Alice Pearce (Miss Fuzzibee, Talkative Patient), Barbara Nichols (Miss Marlowe, Actress patient), Jack E. Leonard (Fat Jack); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Jones; Paramount; 1964)
“There are a few sight gags that are funny, which keep it from being a complete waste.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Frank Tashlin (“Rock-A-Bye Baby”/”Artists and Models”/”The Geisha Boy”) writes and directs the usual silly Jerry Lewis vehicle that exploits his jabbering nebbish behavior in traditional slapstick comedy. This was the eighth and last collaboration between Taslin and Jerry. There are a few sight gags that are funny, which keep it from being a complete waste. But there’s also the usual cloying Jerry sentimentality between gags, which might be hard to take for those who are not French and have not become fanboys of his.
It’s set in the plush California ‘Whitestone Hospital & Sanitarium,’ where Jerry Lewis plays the inept orderly named Jerome Littlefield. He dreams of being a great doctor like his beloved father, but was bounced from medical school because he suffers from a neurotic identification problem (he has ‘sympathy pains’ for his patients). Jerome’s other orderly problems are that he can’t stop talking and screws up everything he does. The few gags that worked have Jerome trying to put a straitjacket on a crazed actor patient named Fat Jack (Jack E. Leonard); Jerome wheeling loudmouth, hypochondriac patient Miss Fuzzibee (Alice Pearce) over the hospital grounds and fighting nausea as she relates to the other patients about her pains and operations; and the demolition of a supermarket by a runaway stretcher.
There’s a contrived plot about the kindly head of the nursing home, Dr. Jean Howard (Glenda Farrell), forced by the greedy board director, Mr. Tuffington (Everett Sloane), to bring more nuts in the hospital because there’s more money in serving nuts. It also has Jerome romantically involved with a sweet nurse Julie Blair (Karen Sharpe, later married Stanley Kramer), but is obsessed with a suicidal patient, Susan Andrews (Susan Oliver), whom he was secretly smitten with in high school when she was a popular cheerleader.
Kathleen Freeman adds to the comedy in her supporting role as the flustered head nurse Maggie Higgins, who grimaces in pain every time Jerome tries too hard and then always goofs up. This comedy act is old hat by this time for Jerry; the film feels forced and, probably, is best suitable for his diehard fans.
REVIEWED ON 6/29/2007 GRADE: C