Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mad Pursuit

I caught the documentary on Encore, Jerry Lewis: Method To The Madness.  It was straight tribute, with nary a critical word, but it did capture that Lewis is really the last of the great movie clowns.

He may not be in the same league as Chaplin or Keaton, but he's playing the same game.  And more than a guy who was at the top of his industry for decades, he was an all-around artist, who wrote, produced, directed and starred in his own films.  Also, in addition to being a comedian, he was an innovator, creating visually imaginative work that looks like nothing else beind done around the time, and--as the special noted--creating the video assist.

The story was told chronologically, with occasional cuts to his present-day live show.  To be honest, I could have used a lot less of hearing Jerry telling old jokes (he's never really been a stand-up comedian anyway), and seen more excerpts from his lengthy career.

That was another problem. As simple and dopey as a lot of people find his comedy, it doesn't always work well if someone describes some routine and then you see a snippet.  You often need to watch what preceded to get into the rhythm.

But for an overall view of a lengthy career, it was well done.  And it's good to see his descendants, like Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal and Chevy Chase, give him his due.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Jerry's zaniness would be better remembered if it weren't for his hubristic displays of seriousness. Bobby Bitman, if anything, was a toned down caricature of this guy.

I am not the biggest fan of Jerry Lewis and his goofy style but that doesn't stop mew from enjoying a black & white Martin & Lewis movie about high school football (That's My Boy?)- "Sir. Never take your son hunting."

5:22 AM, December 21, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Addenda- It was about college football and the line refers the Jerry's character's father- a real jock, asking a doctor if his son hates him. Bonus- Polly Bergen & Dean singing "Ballin' the Jack"

5:33 AM, December 21, 2011  
Blogger LAGuy said...

It's interesting you'd pick out That's My Boy since it's one of the more dramatic films the team made, with Jerry far more muted than usual.

My favorite stuff of M&L, in both their movies and TV appearances, is when they get closest to doing their anarchic stage act.

10:14 AM, December 21, 2011  

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