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Jerry Lewis

by Chris Fujiwara University of Illinois Press
Pub Date:
10/2009
ISBN:
9780252076794
Format:
Pbk 176 pages
Price:
AU$44.99 NZ$46.08
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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The premier study of an incomparable American director.

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.

''Absolutely brilliant. Fujiwara powerfully gives body and coherence to Lewis's work with identity, image, sound, space, and time, and the interview with Lewis is pure gold: the finest and most probing interview with the director I have ever read in any language.''--Adrian Martin, coeditor of Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia

An American Dream; A Structural Cinema; The Performance of Identity; Saying No to No; Oedipus Is No Problem; How to Undo Things with Words; Lewisian Space; The Frame and Its Obstructions; Lewisian Time; Sound; The Total Filmmaker; An Interview with Jerry Lewis; Filmography; Bibliography; Index

''Absolutely brilliant. Fujiwara powerfully gives body and coherence to Lewis's work with identity, image, sound, space, and time, and the interview with Lewis is pure gold: the finest and most probing interview with the director I have ever read in any language.'' Adrian Martin, coeditor of Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia ''...Fujiwara notes that, rather than improving his reputation in the United States, the effect of Lewis' growing standing and popularity in France was to make him a figure of mockery, the subject of ''countless lazy and patronising jokes [...] gibes whose ideological nature has become unmistakeable and more obnoxious than ever in a period of U.S. history that has witnessed the rebranding of Freedom Fries''... Identity is the subject of the largest section, revealing a complicating factor in how Fujiwara has approached Lewis' films. He demonstrates that they are often intensely personal in their protagonists' quests for a sense of belonging and purpose. In raising the question of the separation of textual meaning from biographical meaning, he underlines the importance of the concise treatment of biographical details in the introduction.'' - Adam Jones, Scope, Issue 24, October 2012
Chris Fujiwara is the author of The World and Its Double: The Life and Work of Otto Preminger and Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.