Monday, February 23, 2009

Dargis on Jerry Lewis

Melbourne Cinémathèque screened Jerry Lewis' directorial debut, The Bellboy, a year or so ago and it instantly became one of my all-time favourite comedies. Reading the notes that I printed out for the screening, written by James Neibaur, I concluded that Lewis is a comic genius. Apparently I'm not alone. Manohla Dargis has published an article about Lewis in the New York Post, in honour of the man who is about to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Says Dargis:
Unofficially, this award, like the honorary Oscar, can sometimes be a consolation prize for fading heavyweights who have never won in the regular race. Paul Newman was a six-time loser for best actor when he was given an honorary Oscar in 1986. He didn’t bother to pick his up (and won best actor the next year, for “The Color of Money”). It’s hard to imagine Mr. Lewis, who has never been nominated, giving the academy the brushoff. He needs the applause too much.
The article makes for good reading if you have an interest in Jerry Lewis. I grew up in the shadow of his success; his partnerships with Dean Martin screened regularly on Sunday afternoon television during the 60s and 70s. His particularly brand of comedy was, as Dargis calls it, grotesque. Seeing Lewis' restraint in The Bellboy as an adult was a real revelation and reminds me that I need to revisit some of those films of my childhood as well as some of his later works, especially as a director. The Bellboy demonstrates that there was no finer director of his talents than he himself. He is largely silent during the film and the surrealism is an element that has tremendous appeal.

Check out these clips:

1 comment:

News Review said...

Congratulations to all Oscar winners.. Humanitarian award is specially given to someone deserving.. With the humanitarian works of Mr. Lewis, he is indeed someone who is entitled with the award. He deserves to win.. No doubt about that..