Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor

4.4 5
Director: Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens, Del Moore, Kathleen Freeman

Cast: Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens, Del Moore, Kathleen Freeman

     
 

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A fairly early Paramount DVD release (from 2000), Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor has been issued on a digital disc that's good, at least as far as it goes. The movie comes in an excellent letterboxed transfer (1.85:1), capturing the original theatrical non-anamorphic widescreen image perfectly. There is a smidgen of picture information added at the sides and

Overview

A fairly early Paramount DVD release (from 2000), Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor has been issued on a digital disc that's good, at least as far as it goes. The movie comes in an excellent letterboxed transfer (1.85:1), capturing the original theatrical non-anamorphic widescreen image perfectly. There is a smidgen of picture information added at the sides and unnecessary image removed at the top and bottom, and the overall effect is to focus Lewis' directorial eye with laser-like precision for each gag, when there are gags, and on the intensity of his performance, when he slips into his Sinatra-like "Buddy Love" guise. The color is gleaming -- bordering on radiant -- especially in the laboratory and nightclub scenes (which, curiously enough, are the two arenas in which Lewis' Jekyll-and-Hyde character operates), and the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound adds an element of dimensionality to the audio that even comes through on one's monitor speakers -- check out the scene with Kathleen Freeman in the wrecked laboratory in the opening and see if there aren't lots of different audio textures in play. The disc opens on a simple two-layer menu, without a trailer but with a rather self-congratulatory documentary short, "Paramount in the '50s" -- it takes a rosy view of the '50s, overall and where movies were concerned (30 percent of the theaters in America had closed by 1955), and offers us enticing glimpses of some of the studio's best productions of that decade. Evidently, To Catch a Thief was restored a long time before it got to us on DVD in 2002, and a few of those shown, like Come Back, Little Sheba and The Country Girl, have still not made it out on DVD. There is a selection of English subtitles and French mono audio, and the movie has been given 15 well-chosen chapters. All of that is fine, and speaks well for this disc, but there is a lot more that could and should have been done with this movie -- one of Lewis' greatest achievements. It cries out for a director's commentary track or, barring that, at least a commentary track by someone who appreciates the complexity and daring of this film and its boldness as a comedic achievement, for Lewis as a performer and a director. In the realm of comedy, this is as singular an achievement as anything that Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd (nevermind John Landis) ever did in the field, or that Coppola or Bogdanovich have achieved in a dramatic context, and deserves a few extra bells and whistles.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
You can fact-check a legacy, but you can’t fact-check a legend. So, while the critical record books regard the considerable Jerry Lewis oeuvre dismissively -- the French like him, goes the cliché -- the viewer is left to wonder: Why was Lewis such a star? All the answer anyone needs can be found in his masterwork, The Nutty Professor (Docteur Jerry et Mister Love, to its most ardent fans). At No. 99, it just made the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest films of all time. Lewis stars as Professor Kelp (the model for Professor Frink on The Simpsons). Accident-prone, socially awkward, and repressed, Kelp creates a formula that hideously unleashes his lounge-lizard alter ego, the supremely arrogant Buddy Love, who wows the kids at the Purple Pit night spot ("one of the great swingers of all time") and romances student Stella Purdy (the luscious Stella Stevens). While Eddie Murphy played Love for laughs in his more mean-spirited remake, Lewis has nothing to Hyde as the monstrous Buddy ("Here you are, baby," he romances Stella. "Take this, wipe the lipstick off, slide over here next to me, and let's get started"). This special edition boasts a pristine transfer that does justice to the hallucinatory color design. Lewis's informal commentary with Steve Lawrence is welcome but something of a missed opportunity (he does not address long-held speculations that Buddy was his malevolent take on former partner Dean Martin), and a few of the bloopers seem to show Lewis getting his Love on with crew members. If you're going to own one Jerry Lewis film, The Nutty Professor makes the grade.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
It's said that every clown secretly wants to play Hamlet. For Jerry Lewis, however, playing Professor Julius Ferris Kelp in The Nutty Professor (1963), a variant take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was a more than satisfactory substitute. Co-authored, directed by, and starring Lewis, the movie's reputation has suffered from the fall in its creator's reputation over the ensuing 40 years. And Lewis' portrayal of Professor Kelp, the Jekyll half of his Jekyll-and-Hyde combination, is so overtly, surreally comical, with his chipmunk-like physiognomy, that the film was thought of and sold as a kid's movie. It is a comedy about a fairly serious and complex subject, a personality that is out of balance and its owner's quest for wholeness -- it actually has much more in common with such Steve Martin vehicles as All of Me than it does with such gag-laden Lewis vehicles as Who's Minding the Store? The movie has a fascinating subtext about masculinity repressed and suppressed from the cradle that makes it one of the boldest Hollywood "comedies" of its era. The flashback scenes between Howard Morris and Elvia Allman, as Kelp's parents, are funny and surreal, but also have a tragic edge to them -- and at 88 minutes in, there's a piece of dialogue between Lewis' and Stella Stevens' characters that is so quietly poignant and so piercingly on target that it almost turns this movie, for an instant, into a tragedy. With the help of Kelp's experiments upon himself, that repressed masculinity suddenly manifests itself, transforming the introverted, intensely cerebral Kelp into the self-confident, charismatic, extrovert Buddy Love. The latter actually bears a striking resemblance to Frank Sinatra in his Rat Pack days, and, what's more, to Sinatra at his realistically obnoxious, which he could be. Where Lewis resembles Dean Martin is in the quality of his portrayal, which rivals Martin's best screen performances. As a director, Lewis also proves a marvelous shaper of other performances -- he captures Stella Stevens, an actress whose career showed more promise than fulfillment, as an iconic figure of fresh, young, newly ripened female sexuality. Without a false note in her performance, or a wasted move or blink of an eye, she's a memorable mix of innocence, guileless lust, impetuousness, and wide-eyed wonder at the unbridled side of masculinity that she sees in Buddy Love. The shooting, editing, and scoring of the fantasy scene in which Kelp suddenly sees Stevens' character in different provocative guises recalls (and, indeed, parodies) the multi-faceted, idealized visions of Leslie Caron's character in her first on-screen appearance in Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris. And that brings us to the music which, beyond the presence of Les Brown and his band, and Lewis' Buddy Love singing most impressively, features Walter Scharf having great fun with variations on such Paramount music library staples as Richard Rodgers' waltz "Lover" and Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight," all to very sophisticated comedic effect. And beyond the merits of its performances and direction, The Nutty Professor functions on yet another level, its Jekyll-and-Hyde story tailored to the '60s just as they were starting to swing; between them, Julius Kelp and Buddy Love embody the struggle between two rival visions of manhood, one responsible and circumspect, and the other bold, reckless, and grasping. The movie is a loopy take on the culture war that was just coming to the fore in 1963, between established staid ideals of the previous generation and the more hedonistic extrovert sexuality embodied by the morality of the 1960s, and represented by the image of the Rat Pack and the cool "swinger" Buddy Love (one can also detect the lurking influence of Playboy magazine in Love's behavior). The movie does over-reach a bit, trying to be too many things to a few too many people, and it ends three minutes later than it should have; but The Nutty Professor is as distinctive an achievement as the best works of Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Harold Lloyd.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/17/2000
UPC:
0097360671247
Original Release:
1963
Rating:
NR
Source:
Paramount
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:47:00

Special Features

"Paramount in the '50s" retrospective featurette; Widescreen version enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs; Dolby Digital: English 5.1 Surround; French Mono; English subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing); Interactive menus; Scene selection

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jerry Lewis Prof. Julius Ferris Kelp,Buddy Love
Stella Stevens Stella Purdy
Del Moore Dr. Hamius R. Warfield
Kathleen Freeman Millie Lemmon
Med Flory Football Player
Howard Morris Father Kelp
Norman Alden Football Player
Milton Frome Dr. Leevee
Buddy Lester Bartender
Marvin Kaplan English Boy
David Landfield College Student
Skip Ward Football Player
Julie Parrish Student
Master Henry Gibson Student
Mushy Callahan Cab Driver
Joe Forte Faculty Member
Gavin Gordon Salesman Clothier
Dave Willock Bartender
Celeste Yarnall Actor
Elvia Allman Mother Kelp
Brown Himself
Murray Alper Judo Instructor
Gary Lewis Boy
Doodles Weaver Rube
Francine York Student
Walter Scharf Conductor

Technical Credits
Jerry Lewis Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Ralph Axness Asst. Director
Robert R. Benton Set Decoration/Design
Louis Y. Brown Songwriter
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Ernest D. Glucksman Producer
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
W. Wallace Kelley Cinematographer
Paul K. Lerpae Special Effects
Lil Mattis Songwriter
Hal Pereira Art Director
Bill Richmond Screenwriter
Walter Scharf Score Composer
Arthur P. Schmidt Co-producer
Jack Stone Makeup
Walter Tyler Art Director
Wally Westmore Makeup
John M. Woodcock Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selection
1. You Are a Menace [9:43]
2. Miss Purdy [4:34]
3. Vic Tanny's Gym [:02]
4. Chemistry [6:28]
5. Purple Pit [6:05]
6. "That Old Black Magic" [:19]
7. Buddy Love [10:05]
8. Heredity [5:46]
9. He's Got Something [1:42]
10. Extrasensory Perception [5:52]
11. Command Performance [1:29]
12. Toe-Tapper [6:25]
13. The Formula [:30]
14. Dirty Secret [8:54]
15. Final Solution [5:03]

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The Nutty Professor 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
one must have comedy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought my copy of ''The Nutty Professor'' after watching the copy I rented. It was really good. Professor Kelp makes a potion that turns him into Buddy Love, a rude man. This game of Jekyll-Hyde works pretty good, until the times when Buddy Love changes back into Kelp at the most embarrasing moments. This is definately a movie to own, although I think the remake was much better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this would have to be one of jerry lewis best movies.the transformation of professor kelp to the good looking but vain buddy love was well acted.also jerry remembering his childhood was a laugh.watch this movie even if you are not a fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago