Jerry Lewis was an iconic American comedian, actor, filmmaker, and humanitarian who rose to fame in the 1950s and remained a beloved figure in American popular culture for decades.
He was known for his slapstick comedy, quirky characters, and inventive visual gags. Here are some of the best Jerry Lewis films that showcase his comedic genius:
“The Nutty Professor” (1963) – In this classic film, Lewis plays a socially awkward and nerdy professor who invents a potion that transforms him into a suave and confident ladies’ man.
The film is a hilarious send-up of the “Jekyll and Hyde” story and features some of Lewis’s most memorable comedic moments.
“The Bellboy” (1960) – In this film, Lewis plays the titular bellboy at a swanky hotel, where he gets into all sorts of comical misadventures.
The film is notable for being largely silent, with Lewis relying on his physical comedy and expressive facial expressions to convey humor.
“The Ladies Man” (1961) – In this film, Lewis plays a young man who gets a job working in a women’s boarding house, where he becomes romantically involved with several of the residents. The film features some of Lewis’s most memorable visual gags, including a giant dollhouse set that Lewis interacts with.
“The Disorderly Orderly” (1964) – In this film, Lewis plays a bumbling hospital orderly who inadvertently causes chaos wherever he goes.
The film features some of Lewis’s most physical and slapstick-oriented humor, and is a must-see for fans of classic comedy.
“Cinderfella” (1960) – In this comedic retelling of the classic fairy tale, Lewis plays a hapless young man who is mistreated by his cruel stepmother and stepsisters.
The film features Lewis’s trademark physical comedy, as well as a memorable musical number featuring Lewis and his co-star, Anna Maria Alberghetti.
Best Jerry Lewis Movies
Let’s take a look at the top Jerry Lewis films.
1. The Bellboy (1960)
“The Bellboy” is a 1960 comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film follows Stanley, a bumbling bellboy who works at a fancy hotel in Miami Beach.
The film is notable for its lack of dialogue, as Lewis chose to tell the story primarily through visual gags and physical comedy.
Throughout the film, Stanley gets into a series of misadventures as he tries to perform his duties as a bellboy, including accidentally spilling soup on a guest, getting locked in a linen closet, and taking a group of children on a wild tour of the hotel.
The film also features several celebrity cameos, including Milton Berle, Jerry’s brother Gary Lewis, and several members of the Rat Pack.
“The Bellboy” was a commercial success and helped to establish Jerry Lewis as a major comedic talent. The film’s innovative use of visual comedy and its unique approach to storytelling have influenced generations of filmmakers and comedians.
2. The Ladies Man (1961)
“The Ladies Man” is a 1961 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film follows a young man named Herbert H. Heebert (played by Lewis) who, after being jilted by his girlfriend, decides to take a job at a women’s boarding house.
Once there, he encounters a bevy of eccentric female characters, and hilarity ensues as he struggles to keep up with their demands and quirks.
One of the most striking things about “The Ladies Man” is its innovative set design. The entire film takes place on a massive, multi-level set that was built specifically for the movie, and which features a fully functional elevator and numerous hidden doors and compartments
. The set serves as a kind of playground for the characters, and it allows for a wide range of inventive visual gags and set pieces.
The film also showcases Jerry Lewis’s trademark brand of physical comedy. Lewis was a master of slapstick and sight gags, and “The Ladies Man” features some of his most memorable and hilarious comic moments. The film is a showcase for Lewis’s talents as a comedian and performer, and it’s a must-see for anyone who appreciates classic comedy.
Overall, “The Ladies Man” is a fun and engaging film that celebrates the joys of escapism and silliness. It’s a classic of American cinema and a must-see for anyone who appreciates inventive set design, physical comedy, and memorable characters.
3. The Errand Boy (1961)
“The Errand Boy” is a comedy film released in 1961, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis.
The film follows the misadventures of a clumsy and bumbling young man named Morty Tashman (played by Jerry Lewis), who is hired as an errand boy at the fictional “Paramutual” movie studio.
Morty’s job is to deliver important documents and messages to various departments within the studio, but his incompetence and clumsiness leads to a series of hilarious mishaps and misunderstandings.
Along the way, Morty encounters a cast of eccentric characters, including a temperamental director, an egotistical leading man, and a beautiful starlet.
As Morty’s blunders become increasingly catastrophic, the studio’s executives become convinced that he is actually a genius who is intentionally sabotaging their productions.
In the end, Morty’s true identity is revealed, and he saves the day by accidentally uncovering a plot by a rival studio to steal one of Paramutual’s top stars.
“The Errand Boy” is considered one of Jerry Lewis’s most beloved films and is known for its slapstick humor and over-the-top gags.
It was also notable for its use of cameos by real-life Hollywood celebrities, including Stan Laurel, Ed Wynn, and Hedda Hopper.
4. The Nutty Professor (1963)
“The Nutty Professor” is a 1963 American comedy film directed, co-written, and starring Jerry Lewis.
The film is a parody of the “Jekyll and Hyde” story, with Lewis playing the dual roles of a timid, socially awkward professor named Julius Kelp and his alter ego, a suave and confident ladies’ man named Buddy Love.
The film follows Julius Kelp, a nerdy professor at a small college, who is constantly ridiculed and ignored by his students and colleagues.
He decides to invent a potion that will transform him into a more confident and attractive person. The potion works, and Kelp transforms into Buddy Love, a suave and confident ladies’ man who becomes an instant hit with the ladies.
However, the potion has side effects, and Kelp struggles to control his transformations as Buddy Love becomes increasingly aggressive and egotistical.
Along the way, Kelp falls in love with a beautiful student named Stella Purdy (played by Stella Stevens) and must find a way to win her affections without relying on Buddy Love’s charm.
“The Nutty Professor” is considered a classic of American comedy and is regarded as one of Jerry Lewis’s most iconic films.
It features Lewis’s trademark physical comedy, as well as his inventive use of special effects to create the transformation scenes.
The film’s themes of self-acceptance and the dangers of excessive ego and pride have also earned it critical acclaim and a place in the cultural zeitgeist.
5. The Patsy (1964)
“The Patsy” is a 1964 comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film follows Stanley Belt, a young man who is constantly overshadowed by his successful and talented family members.
After his family’s star performer dies in a plane crash, Stanley is chosen to replace him and become the new comedic sensation of the family’s variety show.
Throughout the film, Stanley struggles to adapt to his new role and win over the audience. He receives help from a kindhearted dancer named Ellen, who encourages him to be himself and develop his own unique comedic style.
The film features many of Jerry Lewis’s signature gags and physical comedy, including a memorable sequence where Stanley tries to master the art of pratfalls.
“The Patsy” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and is considered one of Jerry Lewis’s most underrated films.
The film’s theme of the underdog finding success and the importance of staying true to oneself resonated with audiences, and helped to cement Lewis’s reputation as a master of physical comedy.
6. The Family Jewels (1965)
“The Family Jewels” is a 1965 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis.
The film follows a young heiress named Donna Peyton (played by Donna Butterworth) who becomes the ward of her six uncles, all of whom have wildly different personalities and professions.
As Donna tries to choose which uncle should become her new guardian, she becomes embroiled in a series of hilarious and chaotic adventures.
One of the most notable things about “The Family Jewels” is the way that Jerry Lewis plays multiple roles in the film.
In addition to playing Donna’s chauffeur and confidant, he also portrays each of her six uncles, each with his own distinct personality and physical characteristics.
Lewis’s performances are a testament to his versatility as a comedian and actor, and they showcase his ability to create memorable and endearing characters.
The film is also notable for its charming and whimsical tone. “The Family Jewels” is a lighthearted and entertaining movie that celebrates the joys of family, friendship, and adventure.
The film is full of delightful moments of comedy and heartwarming interactions between the characters, and it’s a pleasure to watch from beginning to end.
Overall, “The Family Jewels” is a fun and engaging film that showcases Jerry Lewis’s talents as a comedian, actor, and filmmaker.
It’s a must-see for anyone who appreciates classic comedy and endearing characters, and it’s a timeless testament to the enduring appeal of family-friendly entertainment.
7. Three on a Couch (1966)
“Three on a Couch” is a romantic comedy film released in 1966, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film tells the story of an artist named Christopher Pride (played by Jerry Lewis), who has a fear of commitment and is unable to maintain a long-term relationship.
In an attempt to overcome his fear, Christopher decides to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Elizabeth Acord (played by Janet Leigh). However, he quickly becomes infatuated with her and begins to pursue her romantically.
After a series of misunderstandings and misadventures, Dr. Acord ends up falling for Christopher as well.
To complicate matters further, Christopher’s three previous girlfriends (all played by Gila Golan) also show up in town, each hoping to win him back.
In a desperate attempt to keep them all from finding out about each other, Christopher convinces each of them that he has a trio of identical triplets, and that he is not the man they thought he was.
As the film progresses, the various romantic entanglements become increasingly tangled, leading to a series of hilarious mix-ups and misunderstandings.
In the end, however, everything is resolved, and Christopher is able to overcome his fear of commitment and settle down with Dr. Acord.
“Three on a Couch” is known for its zany humor and wacky premise, as well as for its catchy theme song, “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.”
It was also notable for its use of split-screen techniques, which allowed multiple scenes to be shown simultaneously on the screen.
8. The Big Mouth (1967)
“The Big Mouth” is a 1967 American comedy film directed and co-written by Jerry Lewis.
The film stars Lewis as Gerald Clamson, a bumbling private detective who gets caught up in a web of intrigue and danger when he tries to track down his missing friend, a former nightclub singer named Delores.
The film features a series of comedic set pieces, as Clamson stumbles his way through the investigation, encountering a variety of eccentric characters along the way.
These include a beautiful woman named Sybil Forte (played by Susan Bay), who has a strange and unsettling connection to Delores, and a ruthless gangster named “God” (played by Harold J. Stone), who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
The film is known for its offbeat humor and zany plot, as well as Lewis’s trademark physical comedy and expressive facial expressions.
“The Big Mouth” was not a critical success upon its release, but it has since become a cult classic among fans of Jerry Lewis and 1960s comedies.
The film’s catchy theme song, “The Big Mouth,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and performed by The Blossoms, has also become a beloved pop culture artifact.
9. One More Time (1970)
“One More Time” is a 1970 musical comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film follows Dan August, a fading crooner who reunites with his estranged daughter, played by his real-life daughter, Danielle Lewis.
Together, they work to revive Dan’s career and record a new album.
Throughout the film, Dan must navigate a series of comical obstacles, including a drunken recording session, a disastrous live performance, and a love triangle with his daughter’s roommate.
The film features several musical numbers, including a duet between Jerry and Danielle Lewis, as well as a performance by the legendary rock group, the Doors.
“One More Time” received mixed reviews upon its release and was not a commercial success. However, the film has since gained a cult following among fans of Jerry Lewis and 1970s cinema.
The film’s blend of music, comedy, and family drama make it a unique entry in Lewis’s filmography, and it is notable for its use of Lewis’s real-life relationships and personal experiences as inspiration for the story.
10. Which Way to the Front? (1970)
“Which Way to the Front?” is a 1970 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis.
The film follows a millionaire named Brendan Byers III (played by Lewis) who, during World War II, decides to form his own army to fight against the Nazis.
Despite having no military experience or training, Brendan manages to assemble a motley crew of misfits and embarks on a series of madcap missions behind enemy lines.
One of the most notable things about “Which Way to the Front?” is the way that Jerry Lewis’s character is so out of touch with reality.
Brendan Byers III is a classic example of the “fish out of water” character, and the film mines much of its comedy from his outrageous antics and bumbling attempts to be a military leader.
Lewis’s performance is both hilarious and endearing, and it showcases his talents as a physical comedian and comic actor.
Overall, “Which Way to the Front?” is a fun and engaging comedy that celebrates the power of imagination and the absurdity of war.
It’s a must-see for anyone who appreciates Jerry Lewis’s unique brand of humor and his talent for creating memorable and endearing characters.
11. The Day the Clown Cried (1972)
“The Day the Clown Cried” is a drama film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis, and was completed in 1972.
However, the film was never released to the public and remains largely unseen to this day. The film tells the story of a German circus clown named Helmut Doork (played by Jerry Lewis), who is arrested by the Gestapo during World War II for mocking Hitler in his act.
Doork is sent to a concentration camp, where he is assigned to lead groups of Jewish children to their deaths in the gas chambers.
Doork initially resists the order, but he eventually begins to form a bond with the children, and he decides to sacrifice himself to spare their lives.
The film ends with Doork leading the children in a song as they march to their deaths, with the implication that he joins them in the gas chamber.
The film has become legendary for its troubled production and the controversy surrounding it. The film’s subject matter was highly sensitive, and many people were offended by the idea of using the Holocaust as the backdrop for a Jerry Lewis comedy.
Additionally, Lewis reportedly had creative differences with the film’s producer and lost control of the project, leading to a final product that he was unhappy with.
The film was ultimately never released, reportedly due to legal and financial disputes, as well as concerns over its controversial subject matter.
A few select people have seen the film over the years, including film critics and industry insiders, but it has never been made available to the public.
Despite its troubled history, “The Day the Clown Cried” remains a subject of fascination for many film enthusiasts and Jerry Lewis fans.
12. That’s Life (1979)
“That’s Life” is a 1979 American comedy-drama film directed by Blake Edwards and starring Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews.
While the film doesn’t feature Jerry Lewis, it’s worth mentioning that he was originally cast in the role that Jack Lemmon eventually played, but had to drop out due to health issues.
The film follows a successful middle-aged businessman named Harvey Fairchild (played by Jack Lemmon) who is dealing with a mid-life crisis.
He is worried about his health, his career, and his relationships, and is struggling to find meaning in his life. Meanwhile, his wife Gillian (played by Julie Andrews) is planning a big birthday party for him and is dealing with her own set of anxieties and insecurities.
Over the course of the film, Harvey and Gillian confront their fears and issues, and learn to appreciate the joys and pleasures of life.
The film features a mix of comedy and drama, and explores themes of love, family, aging, and the pursuit of happiness.
“That’s Life” was not a huge commercial success, but it was generally well-received by critics and has gained a following over the years.
The film’s themes of self-discovery and appreciation for the simple things in life have resonated with audiences, and the performances by Lemmon and Andrews are widely praised.
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13. Hardly Working (1980)
“Hardly Working” is a 1980 comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film follows Bo Hooper, a bumbling but lovable man who struggles to hold down a job and support his family.
After a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, Bo eventually finds success as a clown at a children’s birthday party.
Throughout the film, Jerry Lewis displays his trademark physical comedy and slapstick humor, as Bo gets into a variety of comedic situations, including accidentally destroying a car dealership and causing chaos at a construction site.
The film also features a memorable scene where Lewis performs a pantomime routine in a park, showcasing his skills as a physical comedian.
“Hardly Working” was a modest box office success, but received mixed reviews from critics.
Despite this, the film has since gained a cult following among fans of Jerry Lewis and physical comedy. The film’s blend of humor, heart, and Lewis’s unique comedic style make it a classic entry in his filmography.
14. Cracking Up (1983)
“Cracking Up” is a 1983 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. The film is a collection of loosely connected sketches and vignettes that showcase Lewis’s unique brand of physical comedy and zany humor.
One of the most notable things about “Cracking Up” is the way that it blends traditional comedy with more surreal and absurd elements.
The film features a range of bizarre and outlandish characters and situations, from a man who talks to his furniture to a giant octopus that invades a suburban home.
These elements give the film a surreal and dreamlike quality that sets it apart from other comedies of its time.
Despite its loose structure and surreal tone, “Cracking Up” also contains a strong undercurrent of humanity and heart. Lewis’s characters are often hapless and bumbling, but they are also endearing and relatable in their own way.
The film celebrates the power of humor and imagination to help us navigate the challenges and absurdities of life.
Overall, “Cracking Up” is a unique and entertaining comedy that showcases Jerry Lewis’s talents as a physical comedian, writer, and director.
It’s a must-see for anyone who appreciates innovative and offbeat comedy, and it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of Lewis’s unique brand of humor.
3 Characteristics of Jerry Lewis Films
Here are three characteristics that are often associated with Jerry Lewis films:
Slapstick Humor: Jerry Lewis is known for his use of physical comedy and slapstick humor in his films.
His characters are often clumsy and bumbling, and his films feature exaggerated gags and pratfalls that are designed to elicit laughter from the audience.
Sentimentality: Despite their wacky humor and zany antics, many Jerry Lewis films also contain a strong sentimental streak.
His characters often have a vulnerable and sensitive side, and his films frequently explore themes of love, friendship, and loyalty.
Creative Control: Jerry Lewis was known for having a great deal of creative control over his films. He often wrote, directed, and starred in his own movies, and he had a distinctive style that was recognizable across his body of work.
This level of control allowed him to shape the films to his own vision and create a unique cinematic universe that was all his own.
3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Jerry Lewis Films
Sure, here are three reasons why you should watch Jerry Lewis films:
Jerry Lewis was a comedic genius: Jerry Lewis was one of the most influential comedians of the 20th century, known for his innovative physical comedy, slapstick routines, and ability to create memorable and lovable characters.
His films are full of hilarious moments, and his performances are a testament to his comedic talent.
His films are a window into the past: Jerry Lewis’s films were made during the mid-20th century, and watching them today provides a glimpse into a different era of filmmaking and cultural values.
They offer a unique perspective on the social and cultural issues of the time, and provide a nostalgic look at the humor and style of the 1950s and 1960s.
Jerry Lewis’s films are fun and entertaining: Ultimately, Jerry Lewis’s films are simply a lot of fun to watch.
They are lighthearted, silly, and filled with memorable characters and scenes. They are the kind of films that you can sit back and enjoy, regardless of your mood or what’s going on in the world.
If you’re looking for some good laughs and an entertaining movie experience, Jerry Lewis’s films are definitely worth checking out.
Best Jerry Lewis Films – Wrapping Up
Jerry Lewis was a legendary American comedian, actor, and filmmaker who left a lasting impact on the world of comedy. Here are some of his best films:
“The Nutty Professor” (1963) – This film, directed, co-written and starring Jerry Lewis, is a comedic take on the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, with Lewis playing both the nerdy Professor Kelp and his alter ego, the smooth-talking Buddy Love.
“The Bellboy” (1960) – In this film, also directed by Jerry Lewis, he plays the title character, a bumbling bellboy who works at a fancy hotel in Miami Beach.
“Cinderfella” (1960) – This film is a comedic twist on the classic fairy tale, with Jerry Lewis playing the downtrodden Cinderella character, named Fella.
“The King of Comedy” (1982) – In this film directed by Martin Scorsese, Jerry Lewis gives a dramatic performance as a late-night talk show host who is kidnapped by a deranged fan, played by Robert De Niro.
“The Ladies Man” (1961) – In this film, Jerry Lewis plays a young man who takes a job as a handyman at a women’s boarding house, leading to a series of comedic mishaps.
Overall, Jerry Lewis’s films showcased his unique blend of physical comedy, zany humor, and heartfelt moments.
His influence on the world of comedy is still felt today, and his films continue to entertain audiences of all ages.
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