Enfant Terrible!: Jerry Lewis in American Film

Front Cover
Murray Pomerance
NYU Press, 2002 - 274 pages

The one thing everybody knows about Jerry Lewis is that he is beloved by the French, those incomprehensible hedonistic strangers across the sea. The French understand him, while in the U.S. he is at best a riddle, not one of us. Lewis is someone we take profound pleasure in excluding, if not ridiculing.
Enfant Terrible! Jerry Lewis in American Film is the first comprehensive collection devoted to one of the most controversial and accomplished figures in twentieth-century American cinema. A veteran of virtually every form of show business, Lewis's performances onscreen and the motion pictures he has directed reveal significant filmmaking talents, and show him to be what he has called himself, a "total filmmaker." Yet his work has been frequently derided by American critics.
This book challenges that easy reading by taking a more careful look at Lewis's considerable body of work onscreen in 16 diverse and penetrating essays. Turning to such films asThe Nutty Professor, The Ladies Man, The King of Comedy, The Delicate Delinquent, Living It Up, The Errand Boy, The Disorderly Orderly, Arizona Dream, and The Geisha Boy, the contributors address topics ranging from Lewis's on- and offscreen performances, the representations of disability in his films, and the European obsession with Lewis, to his relationship with Dean Martin and Lewis's masculinity. Far from an out of control hysteric, Enfant Terrible! instead reveals Jerry Lewis to be a meticulous master of performance with a keen sense of American culture and the contemporary world.
Contributors include: Mikita Brottman, Scott Bukatman, David Desser, Leslie A. Fiedler, Craig Fischer, Lucy Fischer, Krin Gabbard, Barry Keith Grant, Andrew Horton, Susan Hunt, Frank Krutnik, Marcia Landy, Peter Lehman, Shawn Levy, Dana Polan, Murray Pomerance, and J. P. Telotte.

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Contents

Introduction
1
I Jerry and Me
17
2 Jerry Lewis Faces Off
41
3 Jerry Lewis and Social Transformations
107
4 JerryBuilt
193
Works Cited
256
Contributors
265
Index
269
Copyright

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Page 23 - What has one voice, and goes on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?
Page 241 - To summarize briefly: the function of woman in forming the patriarchal unconscious is twofold, she first symbolizes the castration threat by her real absence of a penis and second thereby raises her child into the symbolic. Once this has been achieved, her meaning in the process is at an end, it does not last into the world of law and language except as a memory, which oscillates between memory of maternal plenitude and memory of lack.
Page 268 - Professor in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program and the Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University and editor of Defining Cinema.
Page 113 - ... universality." 7. Martin and Lewis were something unique in comedy teams. Most comedy teams — the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, even the Beatles — have a certain internal cohesion that unites them against the world outside. That is to say that members of a comedy team have more in common with each other than with anyone else. Martin and Lewis, at their best — and that means not in any of their movies — had a marvelous tension between them. The great thing about...
Page 103 - ... Hollywood cinema, EuroAmericans have historically enjoyed the unilateral prerogative of acting in "blackface," "redface," "brownface," and "yellowface," while the reverse has rarely been the case. From the nineteenth-century vaudeville stage through such figures as Al Jolson in Hi Lo Broadway (1933), Fred Astaire in Swing Time (1936), Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in Babes in Arms (1939), and Bing Crosby in Dixie (1943), the tradition of blackface recital furnished one of the most popular of...
Page 128 - Martin and Lewis, at their best — and that means not in any of their movies — had a marvelous tension between them. The great thing about them was their incomparable incompatibility, the persistent sexual hostility, the professional knowingness they shared about the cutthroat world they were in the process of conquering. I think of them as they were the night they chased Bob Hope and Bing Crosby off the stage. The atmosphere reeked with the odor of rotting royalty being overthrown by the new...
Page 247 - Using the very words of political economy we have demonstrated that the worker is degraded to the most miserable sort of commodity; that the misery of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and size of his production...
Page 190 - The listener's inner body is illuminated, opened up: a singer doesn't expose her own throat, she exposes the listener's interior. Her voice enters me, makes me a "me, " an interior, by virtue of the fact that I have been entered. The singer, through osmosis, passes through the self's porous membrane, and discredits the fiction that bodies are separate, boundaried packages. The singer destroys the division between her body and our own, for her sound enters our system.
Page 256 - Neither techniques nor technologies are natural, nor do they evolve naturally. Contrary to André Bazin's idealist notions of the history of technology and of cinematic forms, their evolution is not natural but "cultural." responding to the pressures of ideology. These pressures suppress signs of technique and technology. For Jean-Louis Baudry. the technological apparatus of the cinema, ie, the camera, transforms what is set before it but conceals the work of that transformation by effacing all traces...

About the author (2002)

Murray Pomerance is Chair of the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University, whose edited volumes include Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls: Gender in Film at the End of the Twentieth Century, and Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice: Cinemas of Girlhood.

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