Not a love story, space story, gangster pic or monster movie, Jack E. Mulcher explains on behalf of Paramount Pictures (executive producer in charge of all production there), popular as they are around the world. Fun is the film’s raison d’être, Mel’s last name in Brooks’ Silent Movie, “it’s just a little different.”
“No story, no plot,” says Mulcher.
Night and day in Miami Beach, the front-line soldiers of the Fontainebleau, “the only Stanley in the world,” title character.
“A visual diary,” also says Mulcher.
“Everything out of the trunk” means the Volkswagen engine, many are called but few are chosen, “a hit-and-run vacation,” you don’t go there to diet.
The Ladies Man
The monumental dollhouse set is the venue for an elaborate and exhaustive rendition of variations on the eternal feminine so precise and telling they enter the lodgings of Keaton and Lloyd with ease and in every way prepare the suitably grandiose labors of Fellini’s La città delle donne.
The Errand Boy
Paramutual Pictures, Inc.
The joint don’t swing, unless the right man sits at the head of the boardroom roundtable.
Otherwise it’s a mischegas of script collaborations, oblivious starlets, dummies, boy wonders, dubbing magic, frenetic flappers, office complexes and pettifogging demands.
Cassavetes says he doesn’t know from helicopters and explosions, so he doesn’t film them, anyway.
Nevertheless, and in view of the fact that it’s someplace a wee clown can sleep well and a doll get admired at face value, a studio is a good spot for a director, as Fellini says.
The Nutty Professor
Kelp’s Kool Tonic, Beckett’s Bando.
Professor of Chemistry Julius F. Kelp, he whose pocket watch plays the full-score Marines’ Hymn, tries Vic Tanny and is reduced.
Rifling the University Medical Center library of Dr. M. Sheppard Leevee, P.K.M.I.F.O.S. (Professor Kelp means I’m full of shit) and further holdings, Prof. Kelp invents it and the Alaskan Polar Bear Heater.
He’s a wizard on “Black Magic” at The Purple Pit, Buddy Love by name.
All this and Poverty Records goes into The Patsy, directly.
It becomes all the rage, the wife wouldn’t do without it.
Another bellboy, another Stanley.
Clothes by Sy Devore, a hit record, Hedda Hopper, nearly a star, then he plays the Copa Café.
A wake is planned with Ed Sullivan, but he springs to life, a star.
Born, not made.
He marries the secretary and runs the firm.
A Little Fun to Match the
The opening pronouncement is Eliot’s Sweeney on “birth, copulation and death.”
The resident who cannot be taken seriously.
A theme (teleplay by Chester Krumholz) closely related to Hardly Working and The Day the Clown Cried.
The little boy aphasic with a brain tumor (prognosis fair), the hunter mistaken for a bear and shot in the head (“only a matter of time”), the man threatened with retirement in for tests whose granddaughter won’t have the resident because....
The dying hunter’s pregnant wife (“our first”) the resident cannot bring himself to tell.
“You’re nothing but a clown! Dr. Dennis Green, clown! That’s all you’ll ever be!”
Casey a bear when surgery’s not going well. Dr. Zorba divines the difficulty.
Well-directed, the restaurant scene notably recalling Ralph Nelson’s The Jazz Singer in its ambience, elsewhere The Nutty Professor etc., with a crane dolly-in to the purgation.
The Family Jewels
Three pairs of uncles.
The gangster and the expatriate
The sailor and the sleuth
The photographer and the pilot
The statement of the work is in the opening and closing scenes, a foiled armored car heist and a vacuum filled. Therefore the first pair of uncles convey the action of the film.
The second pair have each to do with defusing a bomb.
The third convey the ladies, young models or elderly passengers.
It can be seen that the structure, complicated as it is, cannot be at fault in Crowther’s mystification or Variety’s.
According to Sarris’s twelve-point “stand against Jerry Lewis” in The American Cinema (“some skeptical observations on Lewis as an artist are therefore in order”), “The Family Jewels is badly acted throughout, but particularly in the setting-up scenes. Never trust an art or an artist lacking in a passion for detail.” Sarris goes on to “explain why modern audiences are seldom moved as emotionally as they think guiltily they ought to be by the five-act tragedies of Shakespeare.”
Three on a Couch
The artist is booked on the S.S. President Roosevelt for a trip to France, where he has won a prize and a commission. His fiancée refuses to accompany him, she is a psychiatrist with three patients who literally collapse at the idea of her leaving, each is very beautiful yet suffering from male rejection. The artist secretly plays a role with each of them, a different one suited to her exact temperament.
Anna, who is foreign and fond of Westerns, meets cowboy-hatted rancher Ringo Raintree.
Susan, the athlete, finds Warren jogging in the park.
Mary Lou, for whom zoology is a passion and insects a specialty, is introduced to shy zoologist Rutherford.
At the office party sendoff bash, and then at the American President Lines dock, the ruse is clarified.
The Big Mouth
Smuggled diamonds pass through the Japanese pearl-divers and Kabuki theater complement at Sea World, under the auspices of Mr. Fong, where they are coated with plastic and shipped out as pearl necklaces.
One member of the gang moves differently, with a deal of his own to sell the latest load of diamonds to a rival mobster, they’re worth millions.
The renegade comes ashore on the end of a fisherman’s hook, the two are alike as twin brothers. The Lewis-Richmond script stems entirely from this construction, all the gags are expressive of the style involved, which proceeds from The Family Jewels or Three on a Couch all the way to Smorgasbord (Cracking Up).
One More Time
“Bonnie Prince Charlie to the life” (vd. Kimmins) and his partner in a London nightclub,
Bring your arm,
Make it handy,
For upon my word,
There’s the Chocolate Dandy!
The case presents an adjunct to The Big Mouth d’après Richard Donner’s Salt & Pepper, certainly a question of a blitz on the Atlantic side.
The double is another Lewis theme, here stemming from Dassin’s Nazi Agent. A Martin and Lewis film might be construed in some respects.
The screenplay is signed Michael Pertwee. “Care for a pinch?”
“What?” Which leads to the great Hardy sneeze (Bonnie Scotland, dir. James W. Horne). The “monsters in your cellar” suggest Landers’ The Boogie Man Will Get You and Cukor’s Her Cardboard Lover, the gag is set up to reflect Pinter’s “weasel under the cocktail cabinet” as literally as possible.
“Let me tell you the story of big brother, huh? For starters, he joined Interpol, double-crossed them, then joined the smugglers, double-crossed them, in between times half murders a cat, and then steals a million in diamonds.” A hunt led by the fox, ending in a Wild West shootout at The Plaid Cat, “then play it by ear!”
“I got a flash for ya, my ear can’t ride either.” Kiddie Indians attack the wagon... “Closing time, gentlemen.”
New York Times, “this feeble little jape is so rickety and parched for humor...” TV Guide, “offers some laughs but overworks”. Time Out, “absolutely appalling.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “a contrived and irrelevant diamond smuggling plot that is terribly forced and unfunny... the timing of all the gags is off, the plot predictable and the dialogue stupid.” Dan Pavlides (All Movie Guide), “it fails to be as amusing as the original, which wasn’t that great in the first place.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “even less funny”.
Which Way to the Front?
“The richest man in the world” and a nightclub comic and a henpecked husband and a philanderer go ashore at Naples, kidnap Kesselring and end the stalemate, also they blow up Hitler in his bunker.
This involves a double for the field marshal, and a plot by the general staff.
The 4-F army has reasons, which ultimately are moolah from the richest man in the world.
Chaplin’s The Great Dictator has been mentioned in reviews, this is not the poor barber.
The Day the Clown Cried
Wild rumors are easily dispelled with recourse to the facts, and we have the screenplay of this unreleased film for ready consultation.
The main point of the savage drama is a willful turn on the pivot of Sullivan’s Travels (dir. Preston Sturges). After three years as a political prisoner in a concentration camp for mocking Hitler in a public bar, the clown is asked by new prisoners to entertain them. His failure to do so elicits the fury of a bully, he can’t remember his routines, he needs props, he was fired from the circus during dress rehearsal for failing to properly hold the top clown’s inordinately long coattails, pitching them both into the seats, he was once Doork the Great, cp. The Geisha Boy (dir. Frank Tashlin).
The new prisoners are crowded into the barracks to make room for a division of the camp into Aryan and non-Aryan sections. As he kneels in the mud outside, humiliated, children on the other side of the new barbed wire laugh at him. He makes himself a mud nose and entertains them.
Fraternization is forbidden, he is warned and then beaten. A lieutenant has the bright idea of using him to calm a carload of children inadvertently left on a siding near town.
The boxcar is taken to a death camp, he is still inside. A captain offers him his life to lead the children to their last place of confinement. Hesitating at the end, he goes in with them.
An absurd legal squabble has kept the film from exhibition. Some critical remarks by those who have seen it appear to reflect a misunderstanding similar to that of critics on Which Way to the Front?, a vehement comedy.
The authenticity and accuracy of the screenplay are unquestionable, it’s a very great drama with comedy elements integral to the theme, and very precise indications of its filming.
The bank won’t carry, the circus folds, the star clown is out of a job.
Now he’s the brother-in-law joke of a banker, cp. Just Tell Me What You Want (dir. Sidney Lumet).
He’s also the circus clown set loose on the workaday world, finally the post office worker who’s a real clown, before packing it in and heading off for clown college.
He violates “the sanctity of the mail” by delivering his last batch in makeup and costume. He marries the boss’s daughter.
The critics could not savvy the least thing about any of it.
Smorgasbord, it’s also called. The title sequence picks up from The Patsy picking up ice cubes, not lush carpets but slickness there’s no standing on.
You can’t go into a restaurant and have dinner but the divergence of menu choices means you perish in your own plenty.
The feint of wisdom (on a bargain airline to London) sinks behind an avalanche and fakirdom.
And so forth, amongst the best of the Lewis-Richmond comedies.