cover of book

Jerry Lewis
by Chris Fujiwara
University of Illinois Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-0-252-03497-8 | Paper: 978-0-252-07679-4 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09134-6
Library of Congress Classification PN1998.3.L46825F85 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.43028092


Well known for his slapstick comedic style, Jerry Lewis has also delighted worldwide movie audiences with a directing career spanning five decades. One of American cinema's great innovators, Lewis made unmistakably personal films that often focused on an ideal masculine image and an anarchic, manic acting out of the inability to assume this image. Films such as The Bellboy, The Errand Boy, Three on a Couch, and The Big Mouth present a series of thematic variations on this tension, in which such questions as how to be a man, how to be popular, and how to maintain relationships are posed within frameworks that set up a liberating and exhilarating confusion of roles and norms. The Nutty Professor and The Patsy are especially profound and painful examinations of the difficulty experienced by Lewis's character in reconciling loving himself and being loved by others.

With sharp, concise observations, Chris Fujiwara examines this visionary director of self-referential comedic masterpieces. The book also includes an enlightening interview with Lewis that offers unique commentary on the creation and study of comedy.

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