(director/writer: Jerry Lewis; screenwriter: Bill Richmond; cinematographer: W. Wallace Kelley; editor: John Woodcock; music: Jack Brooks/David Raksin; cast: Jerry Lewis (Stanley Belt/Singers of the Trio), Ina Balin (Ellen Betz), Everett Sloane (Caryl Fergusson), Keenan Wynn (Harry Silver), Peter Lorre (Morgan Heywood), John Carradine (Bruce Alden), Phil Harris (Chic Wymore), Hans Conreid (Prof. Mulerr), Richard Deacon (Sy Devore), Rhonda Fleming (herself), Hedda Hopper (herself), George Raft (himself), Ed Sullivan (himself), Mel Tormé (himself), Ed Wynn (himself); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ernest D Glucksman; Paramount; 1964)
“Jerry follows along the comedy lines of Chaplin, but with far less good results.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
One of the more watchable Jerry Lewis (“The Bellboy”/”The Errand Boy”/”The Nutty Professor”) comedies. This one has the premise of a great comedian dying in an airplane crash (showing footage from The Mountain) and his staff of hangers-on–producer Caryl Fergusson (Everett Sloane), writer Chic Wymore (Phil Harris), press agent Harry Silver (Keenan Wynn), director Morgan Heywood (Peter Lorre in his final film role), valet Bruce Alden (John Carradine), and secretary Ellen Betz (Ina Balin)–unable to give up the gravy train and they decide to discover an unknown replacement and make him into a Hollywood star with their know-how. The spastic, bumbling bellboy at the Beverly Hills hotel, Stanley Belt (Jerry Lewis), is recruited. They train the inept Stanley and despite a rocky beginning that includes a destructive recording session and an unsuccessful nightclub performance at a hostile club, the public relations machine makes Stanley’s recording of “I Lost My Heart in a Drive-In Movie” a Billboard smash single. This earns Stanley a spot on the popular “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The staff resigns thinking Stanley will bomb but, surprise, surprise, the kid dazzles them on the show and becomes a star and marries Ellen.
Jerry follows along the comedy lines of Chaplin, but with far less good results. In all his mugging for the camera, pratfalls and juvenile silliness, Jerry manages a few laughs (there’s one great scene of him getting voice lessons from the stuffy music professor (Hans Conreid) and is so nervous he smashes all the valuable antiques in his room) and to say something in a gentle way about the phony side of Hollywood. Unfortunately, most of the film gets drowned out in sentimentality.
REVIEWED ON 8/2/2007 GRADE: C+