Jerry Lewis

Alrighty, before poor, overworked JillGat blows a gasket reminding us, the article may be found HERE . You’re welcome, Jill. :slight_smile: (Thank you, Capn Crud.)

A few other reasons why Jerry was so popular with the French:

His films are more visually oriented than dialogue driven, which tends to eliminate translation and comic timing problems. Imagine having to read “Who’s on First?” at the bottom of a screen.

A Jerry Lewis film is easily identifiable by its style, much more so than say a film by George Stevens or Fred Zinneman. Remember the auteur theory.

This was before Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. There just weren’t a lot of cinematic comics in the 50’s and 60’s.

Taste is in the tongue of the beholder, so to speak. Especially when it comes to humor. We (meaning Americans) may have a hard time trying to explain our devotion to Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler one day.

[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]

I once heard a story about Jerry Lewis popularity in France, but don’t know if it is true. The story said that when Lewis’ movies were translated into French, a French comedian did Jerry’s voice and modified the jokes to be funnier in French. What people really liked was the French guy’s humor, not Jerry Lewis’. Any truth to this?

I always assumed it was partly because he showed he knew how films were made by teaching and writing about film-making (besides by making films.) Maybe the French didn’t catch everything in his films (because they’re French, not American) but figured he must have made good ones, as he knew what he was talking about? Or do I have the time frame all wrong?

Let us not forget that the French also revere actor Mickey Rourke, who has turned somnambulistic mumbling into an art form, as a Titan of le cinema.

Such mystifying lapses in taste and judgment, I believe, can only be attributed to the diet, a decidedly unhealthy combination of brie, baguettes, truffles and pate washed down with bottles of nitrite-laden red wine.

Alrighty, before poor, overworked JillGat blows a gasket reminding us, the article may be found HERE. You’re welcome, Jill. :slight_smile:

As to the popularity of the Eternal Dipstick in France, I was thinking: could it be the same sort of thing that made Jacques Tati such a popular French film-humor-guy? Tati was well known for buffoonery and general klutz behavior, just like Jerry. If you’re not familiar with Tati (I’m not, but I know the reputation), try watching some of Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther films for an example of a Tatiesque character.

Of course, like Le Petomane, I’m talking out of my ass here. Anybody with better info may feel free to contradict me.

On the subject of Le Petomane, may I assume you’re aware of the reference in Blazing Saddles to Governor William J. Le Petomane?

–Da Cap’n

Captain, with respect to the distinguished fartier non pareil, you may be interested in my The Big Apple-The Windy City post.

Matt Groening explained French culture this way:

The French are funny.
Sex is funny.
Comedy is funny.
French sex comedies are not funny.

I, for one, think Jerry Lewis was a comic genius, in his earlier works. But then, I like Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean - something that the American public, at large does not seem to agree with me on. When I look at the success of Jerry Lewis or Mr. Bean all across Europe, I have to guess that it may have something to do with the non vocal, physical nature of the humor… This also explains David Hasselhof’s incredible popularity in Germany!

Yes, Jerry Lewis was dubbed into French without the adenoidal accent and with better patter.

Two of my college french professors said that a lot of his popularity had to do with the person dubbing Jerry’s voice. Most of the earlier films (the ones that started the story that JL films are popular in France) are done by “the French guy” (sorry- don’t know his name). The later films were dubbed by a different person and are nowhere near as popular there.

I don’t really like Jerry Lewis movies in French or English so I can’t verify this.

Completely leaving Cecil now, I was under the impression that Mr. Bean was popular in the US, to the extent that anything shown on PBS rather than a network can be considered popular. I saw the Mr. Bean film as a pathetic attempt to commercialize him. Was that film actually successful in the UK?

Capn Crud? Capn Crud? Hmmph!! No respect from some people…


Dear Cecil,

(Jerry Lewis comment below)

Speaking of boy-cows, (I admit that I am reading a book of some years back,)
the international language Esperanto uses a feminine suffix -in, but the word for cow has no such ending. The word for man is viro, for cow, bovo, so bull is: virbovo. (Steer is kastrita bovo, figure that one out.) Happily, this is the only confusing matter in Esperanto.

More currently; Jerry Lewis says (in interviews) that the French admire his directing, not his hi-jinks, and that his biggest fan-base is in Japan. He also comments endlessly that Dean Martin was the spine of Martin and Lewis. I don’t know if he is still saying that since the Nobel Prize.

Jack Wilson
Tempe, AZ

All this discussion of whether/why the French idolize Mr. Lewis leads me to another question. Why do so many Americans find it fashionable to hate him? I don’t claim that everything he’s ever touched is pure gold, but most of his movies are very funny, and often a little touching. I certainly don’t expect everyone to like him, but it seems that with some people saying you like Jerry Lewis is like saying you liked the the guy with the funny little mustache. (I’m not talking about Chaplin, either.)

[[I was under the impression that Mr. Bean was popular in the US, to the extent that anything shown on PBS rather than a network can be considered popular. ]] Putrid
Aside from JoeyBlades’ confession above, I have never met anyone who didn’t like Blackadder a LOT more than Mr. Bean (assuming they were familiar with both). I know I do. And, of course, I also have a cunning plan.

I think the reason that it’s not hip for Americans to like Jerry Lewis is simply that the French respect him. I’ll leave it to the rest of you to discuss the logic of that.

I preferred Black Adder, too, but that’s just anecdotal.

This is a bit of a tangent (and on an old thread, at that), but don’t think it’s right to compare Black Adder and Mr Bean. It’s apples and oranges (which always aeemed rather easy to compare, actually, but I won’t go there.) Rowan Atkinson is truly a comic genius non pereil because he is able to perform so brilliantly in two completely different forms of comedy–verbal, intellectual humor, and nearly silent physical comedy. If you think about it, there have been incredibly few comics capable of doing both with such skill.

That said, if I were to be trapped for all eternity on a distant sattelite with nothing to do but talk to my two cheesy-looking robot companions and watch episodes of either Black Adder or Mr Bean over and over again…I’d have to pick Black Adder. But I wouldn’t complain too much if they said I was stuck w/ MB. And I must say I admire RA more for MB, because by all accounts it takes much more skill to do physical comedy on that level, especially w/o speaking and with that level of sophistication and sublety. He’s almost (tho not quite) on the level of Chaplin, IMHO. Certainly a cut above Jerry, or any other living comics I can think of, (except maybe R. Williams in the '70s/80s.)

Well, I LIKE JERRY LEWIS, or, exactly, his films, especially the earlier ones. I grew up enjoying his simple, absolutely stupid and innocent comedy at the old fashioned theater in my town (which had Saturday matinees for the kids with a real clown! Admission was 15 cents and a big box of popcorn with that wonderful movie house melted, artery clogging hot butter was a whole DIME!) He portrayed the social misfit and general good hearted, often not exactly good looking looser, who could actually win in the end and get the cute, vivacious young girl. While looking back on those same pictures as a seasoned, world weary adult, I do not find them as amusing, I do recall how he delighted my open and young mind from ages 7 on through high school. His movies neither portrayed dark humor, open sex, vulgar language (not that I’m against any of that), extreme bloody violence or the now usual drug/minority/mafia/shoot-em up/gang/home boy/ type of theme. I also thoroughly enjoyed his partneship with Dean Martin. I consider their works to be on the high level of the 3 Stooges, though more entertaining and thoughtful (and less violent).