THE GEISHA BOY
(director/writer Frank Tashlin; screenwriter: story by Rudy Makoul; cinematographer: Haskell B. Boggs; editor: Alma Macrorie; music: Walter Scharf; cast: Jerry Lewis (Gilbert Wooley), Marie McDonald (Lola Livingston), Sessue Hayakawa (Mr. Sikita), Barton MacLane (Major Ridgley), Suzanne Pleshette (Sgt. Pearson), Nobu Atsumi McCarthy (Kimi Sikita), The Los Angeles Dodgers(Themselves), Robert Kazuyoshi Hirano(Mitsuo Watanabe), Ryuzo Demura (Ichiyama), Teru Shimada (Japanese private eye; Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Lewis; Paramount; 1958)
“Under Tashlin’s strong helm and Lewis’s well-timed antics, the comedy is amusing in spots.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer-director Frank Tashlin (“Caprice”/”The Disorderly Orderly”) is the director who got the most out of Jerry Lewis. The former cartoonist makes this usual Jerry Lewis comedy better than it should be by keeping it cartoonish, as a film Bugs Bunny could easily sink his teeth into. Though saddled with the usual Lewis shtick of corny sight gags, sentimentality and frantic comical klutzy behavior, The Geisha Boy is at least well-made and fitfully funny. Tashlin adapts it from a story by Rudy Makoul. Jerry Lewis is a second-rate magician called the Great Wooley, who works with a white rabbit. The unemployed magician signs up for a USO tour to Japan, that’s headlined by the publicity whore glamorous movie star Lola Livingston (Marie McDonald). The headliner develops a hatred for Lewis immediately, as her French poodle is kicked off the plane as Lewis sneaks aboard his rabbit named Harry. The USO tour guide Sgt. Pearson (Suzanne Pleshette, first film) has a sweet spot for Lewis and helps him remain in the Orient when he causes an embarrassing situation between Lola and her boss, Major Ridgley (Barton MacLane), and is fired. The Sarge gets him re-hired to go on his own tour to the Korean border and put on a magic show for the fighting troops while in their fox holes in the war zone. When returning to Tokyo Jerry begins a relationship with the sweet translator for the USO show Kimi Sikita (Nobu Atsumi McCarthy) and the unhappy orphan boy nephew Mitsuo (Robert Kazuyoshi Hirano), who is under her care. They befriend Jerry, as the kid laughs for the first time because of Jerry’s crazy antics and they adopt Jerry during his visit. Kimi introduces her wealthy aristocratic and kindly father (Sessue Hayakawa) to him and he makes Jerry feel at home. The romance between Kimi and Jerry disappoints Sgt. Pearson and antagonizes Kimi’s insanely jealous giant Japanese pitcher boyfriend, who goes after him in a bathhouse encouraging the film’s most outrageous slapstick. Under Tashlin’s strong helm and Lewis’s well-timed antics, the comedy is amusing in spots. I found it to be one of the better films in the Jerry Lewis opus.
REVIEWED ON 8/27/2017 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/