Jerry Lewis will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars on Sunday. Unfortunately, he has never received an Oscar for his filmmaking or performances. I think “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor,” as well as parts of other Lewis-directed films including “The Errand Boy” and “The Disorderly Orderly,” deserve recognition.
Ayn Rand said in a radio interview, regarding her personal taste in comedians, “I cannot stand Jerry Lewis and Phyllis Diller.” As I recall, she didn’t like their image of Man or Woman as a non-heroic, under-achieving, juvenile (Lewis) or miserable (Diller) type. I’m not sure when the interview took place, possibly the early 60s, but I suspect she was referring to Jerry’s work with Dean Martin. In my opinion, Jerry Lewis’s characters were less whiny, unintelligent and irritating, and more funny and whimsical, in his 1960s solo movies. I do think the live TV shows with Dean Martin had spontaneous moments of unrepeatable hilarity, mainly when they ad-libbed, because of the dynamic of the team, the exhilerating timing and the relationship of the two performers, as described beautifully in Jerry Lewis’s book “Dean and Me”.
Jerry Lewis has steered clear of politics most of the time, but I understand he has usually supported Democrats, notably JFK. His few political comments tend to be common sense, and I usually find myself agreeing with his stated opinions.
In his book, “The Total Filmmaker,” which helped to inspire me as a teenager to want to make films or otherwise be involved in creative expression (I’m still working on that), Lewis refers to the bureaucratic way film studios are run and describes it as exactly like the scene in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” where a committee alters Howard Roark’s building design.
Here’s a clip of Jerry from “The Errand Boy”: