I've been watching "Jerry Lewis- The Legendary Jerry Collection" dvd box set of Jerry Lewis's films he made for Paramount in the sixties. Now, in order to enjoy this you have to either
a) Be a fan of Jerry Lewis' comedy or
b) Be a fan of Jerry Lewis being a fan of Jerry Lewis or
I have always thought that Jerry Lewis is the perfect nexus of show business. Where the ability to entertain and the unchecked, rampant egotism that comes from someone who is so self-loathing and self-loving at the same time come to meet in a perfect storm of "LOOK AT ME/LOVE ME/LOOK AT ME/LOVE ME"- at that place, you'll find Jerry Lewis putting an entire water glass in his mouth. Or lighting a cigarette with a three-foot high flame from a lighter and screaming in surprise that it happened.
Of course the movies are formulaic and infantile. But they're also FUNNY. I mean it. And his imagination was given a blank check by the late fifites/early sixties Paramount, who had Jerry- and that was about it for profit, which meant that he could build a set that was three stories high to represent a women's hotel so he could pull the camera back to shoot activity (choreographed by Bobby Van!) on all three floors, for "The Ladies' Man", my personal favorite of all of his films.
Or he could make "The Nutty Professor", which is probably the one film all critics can agree on as being his best. I just like "Ladies'" more.
The thing about Jerry is, he will tell you how great he is before you could ever get the complement out.
If you want a real treat listen to the commentary by Jerry and Steve "#1 Fan for hire" Lawrence. Here's a sample...
Lewis: And that's when I invented the video assist-
Lewis: -I thought it would help. I've been told by so many- Scorsese, Coppola- how beneficial they find it-
Lawrence: -It's the industry standard isn't it-
Lewis: -So they tell me.
They don't make talented egomaniacs like that anymore.