Monday, September 22, 2014
Glitch: a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or fault of equipment.
In this instance the equipment is my mind, a temporary malfunction in the bouts of depression or mania which mark me as corrupt and broken.
Within my work I strive to create a Cartesian Dualism, a link between physical ‘stuff’ and thinking ‘stuff’; through the building of installations I create an environment which tests the psyche of the viewer. I explore this through the relationship between the audience and myself, focusing on the behaviour and reactions to specific encounters with the work.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder and at times my life can be extremely difficult, however it can also be incredible wonderful. I feel my life is balancing on a knife point and when I wake up I’m not sure which way my mood will fall, living like this can be frustrating but then again, maybe more rewarding. I tell myself that if I fall into a good day, then let’s make it great because tomorrow may not be quite as good.
For the past two years I have been working on Broken Grey Wires, and my passion is fully focused on what this project can achieve. In this time I have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for days at a time, and also for weeks, this has given me the determination to turn BGW into a legacy for contemporary art and mental health, to help others struggling, and those who feel they have nothing left to give.
I am working alongside artist and curator Mike Chavez-Dawson on the project, which has three parts; part 1 will bring together all the research material and findings through the website platform. It will be a place of resource, and eventually an evolving reflective catalogue around the outputs (physical shows/workshops) that will also serve as an archive and promotional device for the overall project. As it precedes the second phase (physical exhibition) it will allow us to anchor the overall project both nationally and internationally.
Part 2 and 3 will be two exhibitions in leading institutes. Along with the artists involved I envisage that the exhibitions will enhance our experience and knowledge of mental health. All artists involved will share their experiences, whether it is of their own mental health issues, or from their understanding gained during study or knowing friends/family with mental illness. The key aim will be to make mental health situations such as my own and others more tangible to people in similar positions, albeit from a research led contemporary art perspective.
Artists include; David Shrigley, The Vacuum Cleaner, Beagles and Ramsay, David Sherry, Paul Digby, Magda Archer, Stuart Semple, Bobby Baker, Marcia Farquhar, Jeremy Deller and Ryan Trecartin, plus many more.
The point in this project is that I have been there, I’ve been in that situation, that dark hole where you wonder what the point in living is; in fact I still slip into those situations now, but I got through those times and I’ve learnt how to pull myself out of that hole. I want Broken Grey Wires to be a project which can help those struggling, can give them their confidence back; restore their pride and encourage them to find that spark again.
Workshops will be designed by artists, occupational therapists, and performers, to be fun, educational and relaxed. Talks will give the audience something to relate too and give the opportunity to ask questions to people who have gone through similar experiences.
The art will be interactive and show that it is alright to feel ‘melancholy’ it’s alright to feel ‘insecure’ we all do at some point.
And if we got through it, so can you.
To get the project underway we need to build part 1, the web platform and exhibition catalogue. To do that we need your help!
Please support the project by pledging here http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/broken-grey-wires Add us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/brokengreywires
And find us on twitter @brokengreywires
p.s. Hey. Today the fine visual artist and DC's contributor Lizz Brady introduces us to a very interesting project that she is masterminding and asks for your thoughts and support. I hope you will explore her words and plans accordingly and help Broken Grey Wires come to fruition in whatever way you can. Thank you! And thank you very, very much, Lizz, for sharing this here. ** Kier, Hi, K! Jonathan Mayhew was telling me about the Astrup Fearnley Museum, and I don't know why Zac and I missed it when we were there. The Black Metal museum/store is open? Awesome! Stephen told me it closed for a while. In fact, it was closed when I was there, but I wanted to visit it so bad. Cool, excited for the Diorama installation pix! Yeah, how was 'Lyle'? Nice poster. I didn't end up seeing Psychic TV, unfortunately. Long story. Too long. But I did get my tickets to see Lust for Youth and Croatan Amor next week, which I'm excited about. Cool about Cappellens Forslag, and that that guy is a fan of Justin's. Internationalism is so trippy! How much longer are you in Oslo? ** Pilgarlic, Hey there buddy! Long time no see, and doing so is a sweet thing. I'm good, man, and you sound pretty revved, which is ear music, or, I guess, eye music rather. I've heard of the Music Midtown Festival. Yeah, I don't think I'd pony up for that line-up either. You know, weirdly, I've never heard a peep of music by Lana Del Rey, or probably I have somewhere but I didn't Soundhound it maybe only because I don't know how to use Soundhound, although it's probably a snap. You make her seem interesting. I have never heard of Shovels and Rope, but what a name they've got there. Okay, I have to go find out what a duo that chose that name sounds like. I'll do that as soon as I scoot out of here. Did you have a good summer? Is summer over there? Our summer here felt like fall and our fall here feels like summer so far, so I don't think I could answer that question if I asked it of myself. ** David Ehrenstein, Thank you kindly! And great that you linked to that clip. I wanted to use it in the post and tried, but it's locked. So, cool. Beautiful scene, yes! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. His huge face is a scary thing, and, for some reason, I like that scare. It's weird. Aw, sigh, a month in Tokyo, so, so nice. Time for me to figure out a return trip, I think. Turning 60 was so strange, right? Truly strange. And then, after a year or two passes, it's strange that it isn't so strange or something. Oh, you'll surely have another project figured out to do by the end of the year, I think. Oh, btw, that event for Lun*na's book with the fashion show and everything looked so good in the photos you posted on FB. Drat at not being there. ** Sypha, Hi. Yeah, I can see what WB meant about the Residents cover. Not so much about the Siouxsie 'Helter Skelter' cover, but I'll try it again. ** Steevee, Hi. I wondered if you liked Lewis's films. That's cool. I agree with you about 'HW' and 'CU', but there are some very inspired, terrific scenes and ideas in the former, I think. I know of Joe Sarno, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything by him. Huh. That's very interesting. Maybe I'll explore his work and put together a post about his work at the same time. Doing posts is a really good way to structure the exploring of filmmakers' works. Thank you a lot for the alert about him! ** Gregoryedwin, Hi, Gregory! Yes, he's frequently compared to Tati by people who take his work seriously, and the influence is pretty clear, I think. Got your email. Sure, no problem at all! What's next in the process, and when do you need it by? ** Etc etc etc, Hi! Me too, re: 'TDTCC', and it was interesting, if you watched that clip, to see even Lewis say it's completely awful and that he'll never let it be released. No wonder I liked that word exsanguination so much. Maybe I'm psychic or something. Thanks, man. ** Bill, Hi. That teaser is a total tease. Exciting! I'm going to google Birgit Ulher. I actually do know her name, but I don't think I've heard her work. Did Craig Baldwin talk at the screening? He seems like kind of an upbeat maniac in the clips I've seen of him talking. ** Jonathan, Hey, neighbor! Thanks about my cogency re: the Clark show. Dude needs a vacation from himself or something. I'm totally way down for checking out Berkley Books as soon as you think you can handle a return visit. I'm kind of jonesing badly to go there, and to that 2nd hand place too. Yeah, when do you want to go? And that show you propped on FB sounds really good too, Talk/see pronto. ** Thomas Moronic, T! Holy shit, your emails are such a incredible windfall! Thank you wildly! All hail that overdose of coffee! I'm going to post the 'LB' one on this coming Saturday, and I'll email you with the launch dates of the others. Really, wow, thank you a ton! As I told Kier, I didn't see PTV after all. Oh, well. ** gucciCODYprada, Hey, Codester! Nothing to report yet. I've just started, and I'm juggling that pleasure with two deadlines, so my pace is a bit glacial right out of the starting date. But I promise my slowness will pay off. I do remember you talking about Gesaffelstein, yeah. Thanks for reminding me and for spelling out the name. I'll go engulf myself in 'Trans' the very second this post hits the airwaves or whatever the waves inside the internet are called, if they're called anything. I guess there's no air in there. More soon, and thank you, and majorly big up to you! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I finally did see/read some stuff about the riots, but I had to really search for it, you're right. And, of course ,pretty much all the coverage I saw had an implicit 'it's all the 'Yes' people's fault' slant, which seems to be the ugly, barely concealed at best slant in most of the coverage of the vote. Obviously, I hope that "Campaign for 16/17 year olds to vote" thing succeeds in the extreme for every reason! ** Misanthrope, Hi, George. God in heaven, that's so ugly. I'm really glad that LPS is at least semi-safe. So, do you think his mom won't press charges against the guy? And would that mean nothing will happen? I mean, I don't know how these things work, but would 'child welfare', if that's an actual thing and not something you only see in the movies, step in to protect LPS by getting him out of that situation or something? I hope you don't have to lawyer up. God, George, that's so terrible. If there's anything I can do, you know, just ask or even hint at asking, okay? Big love, me. ** Rewritedept, Fucking Blogspot, yep. Kind of a here-and-there weekend you had. Mine was okay. I made progress on finding the guy we need to hire to help with the film footage, and, if I'm really, really lucky, that might even be a problem solved today or by tomorrow. I worked on the new Gisele theater piece a lot because I have to try to finish writing it in two weeks, and I have quite a ways to go. I saw Gisele, related. I didn't see any shows, but I bought tickets for one (Lust for Youth + Croatian Amor) and I sent out feelers to see if someone in the know can get me into the sold out Swans + Pharmakon show. It was a here-and-there weekend for me too, I guess. I'm sorry to be so vague about talking, but I always underestimate the amount of shit I have to do, so I have to say maybe later this week, yes, but we'll see. Sorry. ** Hyemin K, Hi. Oh, a mouse, yeah. We seem to get one to three mice at least once every year here because it's such a huge, ancient building. One of the oldest buildings in Paris. Well, with the mouse I took out to the park, he/she was really into our little plastic garbage can, understandably. So I made a kind of trash stairway so it could get up and into the garbage can. Then I listened, and I heard it doing that, and then I ran in there, took away the trash stairway, and it was stuck in the garbage can and couldn't get out, as planned. Then I carried the garbage can into the park and laid it on its side, and the mouse ran out and away into the park. Worked for me. ** Right. Please lend your eyes and brain and fingers to Lizz Brady's project today. Thank you very much. See you tomorrow.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:00 AM
Saturday, September 20, 2014
'Jerry Lewis is the only American director who has made progressive films. He was much better than Chaplin and Keaton. He could have made marvelous movies, but he won’t now…because of the time in which he is living. If he had lived during the October Revolution, he might have made a magnificent movie.' -- Jean-Luc Godard
'The setting: a small movie theater on Paris’s Left Bank, not far from the Latin Quarter as well as the chic stores on rue de Grenelle and boulevard Saint-Germain. The time: 14.00 on a recent Wednesday afternoon. The scene: 25 or so people lined up in the hot July sun waiting for tickets to go on sale for the inaugural screening of an actual two-week Jerry Lewis film festival. Today’s movie is The Nutty Professor—or Docteur Jerry et Mister Love, as the 1963 film is known in France. A Jekyll-and-Hyde takeoff, it is widely regarded as among Lewis’s finest works as writer-director-star. The ticket queue is well behaved but palpably eager.
'Whetting our appetite, a handbill for the retrospective quotes Robert Benayoun, film critic and director of the documentary Bonjour Monsieur Lewis, on The Nutty Professor: it is a work that “confirms” Lewis as “not only a corrosive satirist but . . . an audacious colorist, and a bold juggler of sonic effect.” A catalog, written by the film historian Emmanuel Droux, author of Le Cinema Burlesque, pokes fun at critics who cite this movie as the masterpiece in Lewis’s oeuvre—as if there were only one! That said, Droux notes that The Nutty Professor “remains a staggering film,” so much so that even Americans, despite their inexplicable aversion to Lewis, seem to appreciate it. That is true: Eddie Murphy remade the picture in 1996, successfully enough that a sequel followed in 2000, and a third has been threatened. In 2004 the original was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Register (though it is possible this was merely a harmless sop to French sensibilities at a low point in Franco-American relations).
'The Parisians outside the theater are happy to share their own enthusiasm for Lewis’s work. I introduce myself to one elderly, stylish woman—unabashedly gray hair, nicely coifed—and explain in my infantile French that Americans are fascinated and amused by the French passion for Lewis and would she be so kind as to explain why this passion persists. “Pourquoi?” she asks with a shrug. “Pourquoi?” The question lingers in the air, rhetorically, philosophically, as if the answer were both obvious and beyond words.
'A younger woman—silk scarf despite the heat—answers me in English. “Because he is funny,” she says with a smile and an infectious laugh. Bien sûr: That would be my answer, too, if I agreed with it.
'A middle-aged man—cargo shorts, mandals—is eager to talk “Jerry.” He praises the director’s technical innovations, including his pioneering use of video playback; bemoans older prints of the films in which Lewis’s mewling nasal-isms were dubbed into French (“You miss the nuance—it would be like for you hearing Gérard Depardieu in English”); and speaks knowledgeably about even the more obscure corners of the filmmaker-star’s oeuvre, including The Day the Clown Cried, an unfinished and rarely seen Holocaust-circus drama.
'The man turns to his wife, and in French, as best as I can make out, they discuss the perfection of a particular camera movement from The Ladies’ Man (1961), which is also on the festival program. “Jerry is one of the best directors of the 1960s,” the man then says to me in English, summing up, a hint of emotion in his voice. “I put him with Godard and Leone.”
'The tickets finally go on sale, and we file into the theater. By the time the lights go down, the auditorium is a third to a half full, maybe 120 people; not a Cannes premiere, but not bad—even in a country with nearly 11 percent unemployment—for a Wednesday afternoon.
'I have seen The Nutty Professor before and am not a fan, though sitting among this audience, in this city, I hope to discover whatever it is that has previously eluded me. I do like some of Lewis’s earlier comedies with Dean Martin—try Artists and Models or Hollywood or Bust, both directed by Frank Tashlin—but most of his work as a director and solo star I find . . . well, unfunny, I guess I’d have to say.
'The humor continues to elude me this afternoon but no one else: the audience laughs appreciatively at even the corniest gags and most belabored slapstick, digging deeper now and then for scattered belly laughs and guffaws. One woman gasps “Non!” in pleasure-pain when the director telegraphs an impending pratfall involving barbells.
'I half-get the intellectual appeal: as a director, Lewis takes the kind of formal experiments Hitchcock loved and applies them to comedy. The Nutty Professor, for instance, has some nice bits involving exaggerated sounds as well as long silences. Lewis’s gags may not make you laugh, but you can unpack them—the ones that involve more than him crossing his eyes—the way you can unpack a Hitchcock camera move, a Godard edit, or the color of a Douglas Sirk set.
'Speaking of which: this has been advertised as a restored version of The Nutty Professor, but the hues are wan and bleached out, lacking the acrylic, color-wheel pop I remember from previous viewing—and as my friend on line pointed out, with Lewis “everything is about the color.” A New York audience at Film Forum, say, or Lincoln Center, would be screaming at the projectionist and demanding refunds. But the Paris audience doesn’t seem to care. Bathing in genius, even improperly filtered genius, appears to be reward enough. Or maybe Jerry intended the hues to be wan? A reflection of the colorless, dehumanizing modern society that is the comedian-trickster's foil? Anyway, lights up. Applause.' -- Bruce Handy
Jerry Lewis @ IMDb
The Official Jerry Lewis Comedy Museum and Store
Jonathan Rosenbaum 'The Lewis Contradiction'
'Was there ever a man or movie star less ordinary than Jerry Lewis?'
'Repelling Rejection, or: The Disappearance of Jerry Lewis, and Some Side-Effects'
'You Have To See… The Ladies Man'
'METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS'
'Digging Down Deep: Jerry Lewis in Conversation With Peter Bogdanovich'
'OF JERRY LEWIS, THE FRENCH, AND AN UNDYING MYTH'
'11 Facts You May Not Know About Jerry Lewis'
'"The Jerry Lewis": The Untold Story of the Beastie Boys Single That Never Was'
King of Comedy: The Jerry Lewis Page
Book: 'Why the French Love Jerry Lewis'
'The Ramones on the Jerry Lewis Telethon'
Jerry Lewis Fans Forum
'Jerry Lewis and Love'
JERRY LEWIS FOREVER JOURNAL
Martin Scorsese, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle, Luc Moullet, Orson Welles, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Jean-Luc Godard reflect on Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis interviewed by Dick Cavett
Jerry Lewis Teaching Filmmaking at USC in 1967
Jerry Lewis talks about filmmaking on the Belgian TV show 'Close Up' in 1965
'The Total Film-Maker, Jerry Lewis’ book on filmmaking, is taken from 480 hours of audio tape, recorded as Jerry taught filmmaking at the University of Southern California, 1970. It’s considered one of the best books written about filmmaking ever. It was printed in 1971 and has been out of print since then.' -- Cinephilia and Beyond
13 of Jerry Lewis's 13 films
The Bell Boy (1960)
'The Bellboy opens with a comically defensive apologia-cum-defense of the film's alleged "plotless" nature via Jackie Mulchen (actually character actor Jack Kruschen), the "executive producer in charge of all productions" at Paramount, who describes the film as nothing more complicated than "the diary of a few weeks in the life of a real nut." In retrospect, the nod toward modesty that kicks off Jerry Lewis's career as a director is probably a punchline in itself, as The Bellboy clearly sets a standard of self-involvement and examination in Lewis's work that is so successfully hermetic that it scarcely needs the approval of the audience. (In fact, the film's centerpiece scene portrays Lewis conducting an imaginary orchestra in front of a vast ballroom of empty chairs, in effect suggesting that all the cinema of Jerry Lewis needs is Jerry Lewis.) The Bellboy is nearly silent, in what could easily be taken as a nod toward French comedy titan Jacques Tati, though Lewis centralizes and foregrounds his cinematic alter ego (the bumbling, premasculine social misfit) whereas Tati spent his career trying to move himself back into the fabric of society. It could more likely be that the silent schematic is merely one characteristic of a cinematic work by a man intent on stripping away all elements that might distract from his more immediate themes: celebrity solipsism, as well as the havoc wreaked on solipsism by the intrusion of an alter ego. (It's a theme that would eventually be refined and partially sterilized in The Nutty Professor.)' -- Paste Magazine
The Ladies Man (1961)
'Whether you’re a fan of Lewis’s eccentric comedy or not, this film is worth watching for its legendary “dollhouse” set alone, supposedly the largest built by that time (it occupied two Paramount soundstages), and still one of the most elaborate ever constructed. Within the film, the dollhouse is an all-female boarding house, where Lewis’s character (the woman-hating Herbert Heebert—obviously a stab at the recently published Lolita) rents a room for reasons quite frankly unimportant (i.e., so that there can be a movie). Once ensconced, Lewis restlessly mines the cavernous interior for jokes (did you see the part where he splits into four, four minutes into the above clip?) as well as metatexual play. Unsurprisingly, that set inspired homages in several other films: Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Tout va bien, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and others.' -- Big Other
Jerry Lewis on "The Ladies' Man"
The Errand Boy (1961)
'The perfect companion piece for Jerry’s directorial debut The Bellboy, The Errand Boy is both its mirror and its opposite. Again, we’re given a minimally-plotted series of outrageous gags riffing on the misadventures of a lowly schlemiel in a big, pretentious institution — but whereas The Bellboy was a quiet film, a silent film homage in an environment of luxury and relaxation, The Errand Boy is more like a noisy, manic film shoot wrap party capturing all the crazed energy of the biz. It’s also Jerry’s love letter to filmmaking — shot all over the Paramount lot, it’s a virtual documentary of the industry that could have been called “A Day at the Studio.” The film gives you riffs on every aspect of filmmaking, from ADR sessions to test-screenings, and every profession is gently mocked from the mailroom shlubs all the way up to the starlets. A rollicking, raucous, timeless romp!' -- Cinefamily
The Nutty Professor (1963)
'For decades, Jerry Lewis has been the butt of jokes having to do with the French. Despite his particular genius onscreen, and his technical prowess offscreen as an innovative Hollywood director, most Americans have written him off as if to say, "if the French love him so much, they can have him." Even Lewis detractors will begrudgingly admit that The Nutty Professor (1963) is a good and funny film. Lewis plays a dual role as the nerdy weakling Professor Kelp and the arrogant, super-cool nightclub lizard Buddy Love, after the professor invents a formula to make himself stronger and more confident. Mostly he does this to impress his unbearably adorable student Miss Purdy (Playboy Playmate Stella Stevens, in her most famous role). Lewis presents the film with a bright, bold color palate, emphasizing primary candy-store colors, but darkening them for the appropriate moments, such as the first (fairly frightening) transformation sequence. His eye for visual and aural humor really comes out here, as in the sequence when a big buffoon of a student stuffs the professor onto a shelf. We hear the stuffing and the tinkling of glass, and then the student walks across the frame, giving a slow reveal to the visual payoff. Lewis also shows a genius for silence, timing long, quiet moments before a gag, such as visiting the dean's office and sinking into his soft leather chairs with a withering sigh.' -- Combustible Celluloid
Jerry Lewis on 'The Nutty Professor'
The Patsy (1964)
'In one of the most self-reflexive films in the Lewis canon (originally conceived as a sequel called Son of the Bellboy), The Patsy chronicles a young bellboy chosen at random to be transformed into a famous actor, Pygmalion-style, by an out-of-work entourage who just lost their movie star employer in a freak accident. What transpires is a stage-by-stage satire of the Hollywood machine, and some of Jerry’s best signature fake-bad performance pieces — a hapless and hilarious attempt at lip-synching, the ultimate cringe-inducing, cricket-chirping standup act, and a singing lesson that literally brings down the house. Here, Jerry’s perfectionist nature also shines, as the famous “vase” sequence is a master stroke in physical timing — requiring weeks of rehearsal just to stage himself catching a plethora of falling vases in mid-air a fraction of a second before they would smash on the ground. The last of Jerry’s big-budget Paramount pictures, The Patsy closes out an era in style — and with plenty of deep laughs.' -- Cinefamily
The Family Jewels (1965)
'In his Senses of Cinema profile on Jerry Lewis's directorial career, Chris Fujiwara notes that The Family Jewels is something of a transitional film between Lewis's classical period and his diffuse, presumably more uncontrolled films. Considering that it brings back a reasonable facsimile of Dr. Julius from The Nutty Professor, it occasionally plays like the extended version of his film-capping curtain calls. In a storyline that dangles perilously over the edge of cutesiness at a number of turns, Family Jewels centers around a rich, recently orphaned girl, Miss Donna Peyton (Donna Butterworth, in a thankfully unsugary performance that's half precociousness and half tomboy), who will inherit her family's $30 million till if she successfully chooses one of her six uncles to be her new father. Like Nutty Professor, the film's premise seems to center around a very clear set of narrative rules, but they are all but undercut in the first scene by the notion that Donna's most suitable guardian is her family's chauffer Willard (Lewis, who also plays the film's parade of six uncles). The two exchange hugs, kisses, in-jokes, and every other possible iteration of filial love to the extent that the film's eventual plot outcome is as devoid of "suspense" as possible. This accounts for the vaguely funereal tone of the film, set clearly by the scene Fujiwara isolates: the desultorily contemptuous monologue spoken by Donna's Uncle Everett (in clown make-up) about how much he loathes his audience, "squealing brats" all of them.' -- Slant Magazine
JERRY LEWIS directing 'The Family Jewels': tribute
Three on a Couch (1966)
'“There couldn’t be two Christopher Prides,” is one of the first sentences with which Jerry’s character introduces himself. That Pride is an artist given to masquerade and manipulation for reasons of the heart once more underlines the prominence given by Jerry to parallels between his film incarnations and his real-life situation. Overall, Three on a Couch may not be Jerry’s greatest achievement, but the touching and even the dark parts of his shenanigans resonate. Despite a few quintessentially Lewisian detours into the crazy—for example, an incredible, incoherent monologue in entomologist disguise, consisting of perfectly timed rapid-fire half-sentences nervously delivered with utmost conviction—this is the first of his directorial efforts for which he takes no co-writing credit. The screenplay is essentially a typical farce, obliquely reflecting that boulevard theatre perennial Boeing Boeing, the film adaptation of which Jerry had co-starred in a year earlier. Three on a Couch follows Jerry’s deliberate divorce from the “kid” aspect of his persona, already announced in many ways with The Family Jewels. As Pride, he is the romantic lead, whose mounting hysteria is purposely more interesting than anything relating to the three dream-lover types (plus one’s sister) that he impersonates, which register almost as sarcastic self-parodies (cigar-chomping cowboy, nerd scientist, etc.). The film builds to a climax with an extended party scene, but Lewis replaces Blake Edwards’ elegance with his own impressive, increasingly oppressive and nightmarish arrangement of frenetic comedy via crisscrossing encounters. Also worth noting is that the multiplication of Jerry here is a ruse, just a series of performances, and not some surreal proliferation as elsewhere. Stalwart supporter Kathleen Freeman, usually suffering sensationally at the hands of Jerry’s slapstick, is even allowed to switch sides for once—while Buddy Lester climbs new peaks of inebriated inspiration, including an unforgettable cab-door slow-burn—then saves the day after Jerry’s trick has been exposed and only the threat of suicide remains. A work of disconcerting containment.' -- Cinema-scope
The Big Mouth (1967)
'If Thomas Pynchon were a filmmaker instead of a novelist and had directed only The Big Mouth, he might have understandably left it at that—so we should be grateful Jerry stepped in and continued. In the film, individual identity implodes (its arbitrariness, a key Lewis theme, becomes fully threatening) while paranoia is rampant, possibly even inevitable as the only sane reaction to an insane world governed by unspeakable forces—no wonder Jerry as Gary Clamson gives up speaking as the narrative progresses, amplifying the link to The Bellboy with its (almost-)mute Jerry and vacationland premises, this time San Diego in full colour and turned completely sour. Mild-mannered bank examiner Clamson’s annual fishing holiday disintegrates after he (literally) reels in his gangster double and is given a treasure map, which Fu Manchu-type enforcers (ridiculous fake beards included) try to retrieve, resulting in three nervous breakdowns, each hood frozen into an eternal stage of comedy: a dumb dog, a stooge (Larry Fine), and a Buddy Lester showcase of twitching nerves and garbled speech. Police are of no help, but suffer their own breakdown, sidetracked into debating the meaning of their own codes; an FBI agent turns out to have long retreated into mental collapse. Jerry disappears into disguises (Kabuki in Sea World?), but there is no refuge, only hysterical extension (as in the Möbius strip chase moment and the good ol’ leg-stretch gag) or elliptical reduction, as overall breakdown leads towards wanton aggression in all directions. (This is especially true of the finale, in which several protracted showdown possibilities—helicopter rescue; then Clamson cornered by gangsters on the shore only to be saved by the unlikely reappearance of his double—are telegraphed via a handful of quick shots.) Meanwhile, Robert Aldrich’s house composer Frank De Vol strolls around to intermittently interrupt the proceedings as narrator, madly dashing off in the end to expose that he’s not wearing trousers. Painfully funny indeed, The Big Mouth precedes Preminger’s Skidoo and Edwards’ The Party by a year, and like those films is a visionary splintered-society satire cutting through delusions. (What’s real? Advertising and Col. Sanders, who appears in an otherwise pointless cameo.) Only complaint: it should be longer.' -- Cinema-scope
One More Time (1970)
'Understandably, but unfortunately, neglected even by Jerry enthusiasts (and not included in the retrospective, but unearthed on an old VHS tape), this is the only film Jerry directed without starring in: a sequel to Salt and Pepper (1968) with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter Lawford as the eponymous groovy-guys duo drawn into a murder plot. Which brings us to the problem with the narrative (much more pronounced here than in Three on a Couch), which weighs down the film with exposition and weak comedic banter, filmed competently enough and allowing for occasional auteurist insights. (There’s a good reason why Jerry usually prefers a freewheeling structure.) But the interest lies elsewhere, in digressions like a butler serving a meal so slowly that inserts show Lawford growing a beard, flowers withering, and white streaks appearing in Davis’ hair, or a non-sequitur trip to the cellar leading to a monstrous line-up unique in horror history, as Davis’ Hammer pals Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing cameo unbilled in their signature roles. Sudden urges for punchy visualizations are welcome, but rare: at a funeral, the leg-parade of hot black-clad groupies sidetracks an assassin’s cross-haired gaze; a weird explanatory flashback while looking at the painting of a castle (the corresponding picture-postcard view on film comes with the end credits). But Jerry is always tickled by performance, notably Davis’ songs and comedy routines, which obviously cannot compare to the Jer. His actors put on acts for each other (a costume party included), and Jerry lavishes the insistent attention on them that he usually centres on himself. It is at times hard to bear, leaving the audience with a koan to contemplate: What’s Jerry without Jerry? (A bandleader’s voice.)' -- Cinema-scope
Which Way to The Front? (1970)
'Probably the most sustained demonstration of rhythmic brilliance in Jerry’s work. He starts out bored at a board meeting, sucking on a pacifier, as palpable exhaustion, even despair, hangs over his richest man in the world, Brendan Byers III, and his staff. These protracted silences are followed by an increasingly breathless movement to a pile-up of rat-a-tat pseudo-Teutonic gibberish, mostly—but not only—by Jerry himself, who is seen preparing by listening to “Music to Mein Kampf By.” Confronted with the draft board’s rejection (the one word that the supercapitalist cannot bear), Byers III insists on “every man’s right to be killed fighting for his country.” The year is supposedly 1943—the insert of the date itself a quiet joke in the opening scene, with decor, attire, haircuts, etc. undisguisedly contemporary, as are later stylistic choices like transition swish-pans and punch line freeze-frames. But how far can you be from Vietnam? The absolutely idiotic yet stroke-of-genius coda even continues (ending) the war in Asia, Jerry-trademarked buck teeth and all. Before that (and long before Tarantino), this Jewish retribution fantasy updates the old Nazi impersonation shtick to The Dirty Dozen (1967) times: buying his own army, Byers starts a private war, leading first to his German double Field Marshal Kesselring, with everybody in the platoon getting to strut their version of his silly walk, before Kesselring is captured in a surreally spasmodic scene, then abruptly replaced by Byers, causing a topsy-turvy confusion. (Soon after, Jerry-as-Byers-as-Kesselring mutilates/decorates a German soldier bearing Lewis’ own birth name, Levitch.) As a finale, there’s the uncanny meeting of finance and Führer, who first performs The Great Dictator (1940) ballet in slow motion, then does a satchel-with-a-bomb exchange pas de deux with Jerry. Which way to the Clown? The mind boggles.' -- Cinema-scope
The Day the Clown Cried (1972)
'Jerry Lewis has sworn repeatedly over the years that he would never let the 1972 movie about a clown who led Jewish children to their deaths during the Holocaust, which he directed and starred in, see the light of day. In the film, Lewis plays a down-on-his-luck German circus clown named Helmut Doork, arrested after drunkenly mocking Adolf Hitler and placed in a concentration camp awaiting trial. He later boards a train headed to Auschwitz packed with Jewish children, and, once there, is forced to perform for them, Pied Piper-style, as they are led to the gas chambers. Helmut joins them in the gas chamber in the film's final scene. The unseen film, its premise seemingly ripe for epic failure, has grown into a cult-obsession for cinephiles over the years. Those few who have seen it say it is as bad as it sounds: "You're stunned," says comedian and The Simpsons voice-actor Harry Shearer, who has seen the full film, of the movie's awfulness.' -- The Hollywood Reporter
"The Day the Clown Cried" Making Of Footage
Jerry Lewis answers THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED question
Hardly Working (1980)
'What a comeback: “Jerry Lewis Is Hardly Working,” is the pun in the credits, and the shorter, lesser US cut is even front-loaded with a montage of signature moments from earlier films, set to the famous typewriter sketch accompaniment, as if Jerry needed a reintroduction after a decade of big-screen absence. Made on the cheap and on the spot in Florida (closing a circle with The Bellboy), this may be the most melancholic film in the Jerriad despite numerous uproarious bits like the Japanese chef assault. In The Family Jewels, Jerry’s classic clown make-up masked the bad, here it can no longer mask the sad: Bo Hopper, insecure circus performer, has his brief moment of affirmation, then the banks close down his tour. “There is no place for clowns in this world,” Bo later muses (except for politics, he adds: Hardly Working was released first in West Germany 11 days after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, and over a year later in the US), and his attempts to gain employment are inevitably foiled by a natural penchant for disaster (demonstrations range from elaborate slapstick at a gas station to an off-screen symphony of shattering glass as he’s shown out of a mirror factory). Applying himself as a mishap-prone postal worker, Bo gradually manages to fit in, until he succeeds with a postal delivery tour de force of mechanical precision—he’s become a cog in the machine, but realizes it will cost him his soul. It’s the outsider’s fictional last stand in a real landscape of economic decline, still saturated by commercial content, with Jerry’s generally overemphasized product placement reaching the point of inversion: the world itself has become a billboard. It’s product as magic potion, as phrased in the opening narration of The Errand Boy (1961), whose depressive undertow has spread outwards from Hollywood to conquer the Earth. Down to Jerry’s disappearance into the landscape in an undistinguished last shot, this would have been a perfect final film.' -- Cinema-scope
Cracking Up (1983)
'Thus, inevitably, he made another, making the ever-present concept of suicide in Jerry’s films (literally or artistic, attempted or accidental) the through-line for a last loose, soaring series of sketches, stripped down to essentials. Jerry—”Who else?” asks the credits, while Marcel Marceau beautifully sings the main theme—plays Warren Nefron, first seen failing to end his life (loose noose, etc.) until a gunshot is discharged into a TV set, which shoots back: the world reclaimed as stage for a final performance, including a bit of bank-robbing turned musical show for the surveillance camera, or minutes of meticulous slipping and sliding on squeaky furniture and a red studio floor in the office of a psychiatrist whom Warren regales with his grotesque family history reaching back to 15th-century France. There are further misguided suicide attempts: dousing himself in gasoline, Jerry casually searches his pockets only to realize he has forgotten a lighter, then stoically wanders off in wet defeat as the wind whistles. Ultimately redemption is glimpsed, although the rest of the world is instantly engulfed by chaos again. A tacked-on last scene shows Jerry leaving a screening, asked how the movie was: “It’s really good, you know!” The only possible shortcoming, as pointed out by Jerry expert Chris Fujiwara: “Too entertaining.”' -- Cinema-scope
the entire film
p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yeah, Antonio was brilliance central. I hope your confab at the pub with your fellow artists lifted your spirits and unearthed a great way forward. Exactly, about the voting stats. It's like in the US where you can't help but twiddle your fingers waiting for the geriatric Far Right majority to meet their fantasy Maker. I haven't seen anything in the news about that rioting. Weird. Maybe there will be by the time I finish this. Jesus, why were they rioting? I mean, they won, right? ** David Ehrenstein, I know, I know, Antonio, yeah. I saw your email upon awakening, and I'll get it shortly. Thank you! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. 'Piano' is terrific, but, if my choice of book by him to spotlight hadn't been decided by whether there was an excerpt online that I could use, I would have chosen '14', which is my favorite of his and my recommendation as the place to start with him if you have it in your arsenal. Weird how that happens about being on fire inside and financially crimped on the outside. Ever more daring is the way to go, I'm certainly a billion percent high fiving you about that. But, hey, you're off to Tokyo soon, you lucky, lucky dog! ** Steevee, Hi, Steve, Thanks much for the link. I'll get to read your article very shortly. Everyone, Here's the great Steevee aka Steve Erickson writing about the New York Film Festival for those of us who can't go, and, well, those you of you who can. A must read! ** Etc etc etc, Hi, man! Wow, weird Beckett adaptation indeed. Which play was it? It sounds like it might be 'Happy Days'? Too bad, even if the word Halloween in your description made me wish I could see it. I'm a Halloween slut, don't you know. Ah, you're in the waiting game phase re: publishers/mss. Charming phase, not. 'Vape' is a really nice title. Actually, so is 'Exsanguination', whatever that means. I'll google it. If I notice openings amongst alt lit publishers, I'll remember to pass what I see on to you. You writing about your writing thoughts and plans is really exciting! No, sorry, I haven't read the thing you sent yet. I'm so behind right now, but if I can get the final film project's nail nailed in the next couple of days, I'll be a lot more like my usual receptive, hungry self. Yeah, Ariel's visual art stuff was really good, I wonder if he still does visual stuff with diligence. Best of luck and a superb weekend to you too! ** Sypha, 'Third Reich and Roll' was the only Residents album I really, really liked. I'll try it again and see what happens. And, yeah, their 'Satisfaction' is insane. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal! 'Ravenous' is cool. It's not the answer to anyone's prayers or anything, but I think it was fun. Oh, yeah, 'Hausu' is completely bonkers and great! I love it too. Do you have cool plans and things to do or make in store this weekend? Have a great one! ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris. Yeah, just be confident, and it'll be great, I promise you. And, yeah, let me know how the preparations and/or it itself go. I'll go look for your email when I'm done here. Thanks! Very cool about your writing going so well! I love your idea of the stories being grounded in a single Houston day. Why July 20th? Is it a secret? I'm way into the hyper compressed method. It's also really exciting to edit things that way, or it is for me. I've never read 'Manhattan Transfer', huh. I haven't read Dos Passos in, like, forever. What an interesting idea to try reading him now. Is that novel a particular favorite of yours? Of his? You have a totally splendid weekend, man. ** Kier, Hi, K-man! Oh, that's okay about the blog posts, gosh, no problem, enjoy the joys of the IRL! Wow, what a fantastic day and night you had! So great about the show and about your work's dominance of it. Did you take any installation pix, asks greedy me? My Friday can't compete with that, but it was cool. I met up with the awesome artist and d.l. Jonathan Mayhew who's in Paris for a while staying at another artists residency building. It was great to see him. We did the Paris thing of walking around and having a coffee in a cafe plus blabbing. We saw the Larry Clark show at Agnes B's gallery. I thought it was piss-poor. The photos of the usual naked skateboarder boys were so tired and predictable, they were like cobwebs. The collages were very same-old same-old. And he's painting now, and they were just awful, barely competent things. A drag of a show, but it was fun to walk through it grousing. Other than that, my day was mostly spent trying to find that person to organize our film footage. Nothing yet, but some hope and leads. And some writing, which went okay. It was all right. I'm aiming for a cool weekend. Tomorrow night, I think, I'm going to see Psychic TV with this guy Paul, who was in our film and who I like a lot. I have to get a bunch of work done on the new Gisele piece 'cos I'm seeing her on Sunday and she wants a progress report. Stuff like that. I hope you milk all the excitement out of Oslo that you can this weekend and that you'll tell me all about it! ** Misanthrope, Yep, about Antonio. I hate death. Wow, a body building contest. Was it, like, interesting? I guess it would have to be somehow. But, oh shit, I just read your comment about what happened with LPS and his mom. Good god, man, that's horrible! And, horribly, based on what you've said about that situation, depressingly not a huge surprise, Jesus Christ, I hope he's okay, and I hope she's okay, and I hope this is some kind of wake up call that changes things for him. I'm so, so sorry to hear that, George. Let me know what happens please. Lots of love to you! ** Okay. I'm kind of guessing that the post this weekend has inspired a wtf out there. I don't know. There's so much negative stuff about Jerry Lewis flying around these days, and maybe he deserves it as a dude, I don't know, but I'm a fan of his filmmaking, and I guess I thought I'd put some emphasis on his work as a Director this weekend just to be sincere and perverse or something. I think 'The Bellboy' is a great film, and that a few of his other early films are almost great, and there you go. It would be cool if people felt like commenting on his films, pro or neg, and not just talking about his possible unpleasantness as a guy, but, hey, that's up to you. See you on Monday.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:01 AM