Retro: The Unquiet American

The Ladies Man

Jerry Lewis
USA 1961
95 min

Jerry Lewis’s opulent second feature as a director (1961), in some ways his most ambitious (and his first in color), is also the one that has the most to say about his character’s sexual hysteria, intensified once the hero discovers that he’s been hired to work as houseboy in a boarding house full of sexy young aspiring actresses – all of whom are initially seen simultaneously in their separate rooms as part of a single ­gigantic dollhouse set occupying two soundstages at Paramount. (To keep track of both this set and his own performance, Lewis invented the video assist, a filmmaking technique used in Hollywood filmmaking ever since.) Furthermore, Lewis’s talent for free-form psychic fantasy, which clearly distinguishes his work from the social satire and narrative motivations of Frank Tashlin, reaches a kind of apogee here when he encounters a Bat Lady (shades of <![CDATA[<i>]]>Artists and Models<![CDATA[</i>]]>) lurking inside a “forbidden” room, along with the Harry James Orchestra. And his character is no less free to dance with George Raft (playing himself) in another sequence. This film also represents the ­climax in many respects of Lewis’s preoccupation with media; as Chris Fujiwara writes in his superb forthcoming book on Lewis, “With the mediatization of the house in <![CDATA[<i>]]>The Ladies Man<![CDATA[</i>]]> comes the total ­conflation of domestic and performance spaces.”

This film is screened together with mit <filmlink id=\"3141\">Little Rural Riding Hood</filmlink>.

  • Jerry Lewis
  • Kathleen Freeman
  • Helen Traubel
  • Pat Stanley
  • George Raft
  • Harry James
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Bill Richmond
  • W. Wallace Kelley
  • Charles Grenzbach
  • Stanley E. Johnson
  • Walter Scharf
  • Hal Pereira
  • Ross Bellah
  • Edith Head
  • Ernest D. Glucksman
  • Jerry Lewis
Paramount Pictures
35 mm
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