Jerry Lewis 97th Birthday Double Feature
On March 16th, the birthday of the late Jerry Lewis, Owen Kline will present two very unique 35mm prints from Jerry Lewis’ collection, The Errand Boy and The Disorderly Orderly at the Roxy Cinema, introduced by Owen himself alongside Mr. Lewis’ personal film archivist and friend of 35 years, Bob Furmanek.
ON THE ERRAND BOY AND THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY
by Owen Kline
In 1961, The Ladies’ Man had been the most expensive Jerry Lewis production to date; and although it thrived at the box office, Paramount requested Jerry’s next film The Errand Boy cost a fraction of the previous. So Jerry returned to black & white and brazenly utilized the actual backlot of Paramount as his movie set, redubbing it “Paramutual Pictures” for the story and employing his classic “kid” character, dubbed “Morty Tashman” in this film, to wreak havoc and buffoonery upon the Hollywood set, classically failing upwards. The character’s name alone is clearly a twist on one of his personal heroes and collaborators Frank Tashlin (“Tashlin was my teacher,” Lewis was once quoted saying.) This Lewis-directed film is most indicative of Tashlin’s imprint on Lewis as a director. It plays like any of the great Tashlin-directed Daffy Duck films, particularly its scene where Jerry fantasizes he’s the “big boss” dishing out orders through pantomime to the tune of Count Basie’s “Blues in Hoss Hat” in an empty boardroom.
The Disorderly Orderly marks the last collaboration between Tashlin and Lewis, and this particular 35mm Technicolor print is a first trial preview version of the film, with a few of its scenes placed in a uniquely different order than the final distributed film. A personal highlight is a performance by the actress-comedian Alice Pearce as the unfuzzy Mrs. Fuzzibee, a miserable, high-maintenance patient Jerry is forced to wheel around who never lets anyone get a word in edgewise. Despite a lackluster romantic storyline, the picture is chock-full of imaginative comedy filmmaking and is Tashlin’s last great film with Jerry, celebrating a beautiful end to a collaboration as creatively significant as Jerry and Dean’s.