Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown
Since his earliest days, SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Jerry Lewis had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches, and signature slapstick humor. But Lewis was far more than just a funny performer. After the breakup of his famed partnership with Dean Martin, Lewis moved behind the camera, writing, producing, and directing many of the adored classics in which he starred: “The Bellboy,” “The Ladies Man,” “The Errand Boy,” and “The Nutty Professor.” By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis emerged as a driving force in Hollywood, breaking boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice, and keen visual eye. Lewis garnered particular respect and praise overseas, especially in France. But if his French admirers regarded Lewis as a true auteur, American critics proved far more skeptical, often dismissing him as nothing more than a clown. Gregory Monro’s brisk, informative documentary offers answers to questions that have perplexed American pop culture for more than 50 years: Why do Europeans love Jerry Lewis? What is the inexplicable aversion many Americans have toward him? Is he just a brash, anything-for-laugh buffoon or is he a creative genius in the tradition of Chaplin and Keaton? Who is the man behind the clown?