This fascinating footage appears to be Jerry Lewis rehearsing a bit for his nightclub act in front of a live crowd–though they’re not the regular audience but rather a ‘test’ audience. Jerry was known to shoot footage of himself in order to play it back and see what things were working or not, so this may be one of those rare tests. The slate at the beginning tells us that it was photographed on February 25, 1960 which corresponds with the dates he was shooting his debut directorial outing ‘The Bellboy’ at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach. As part of his deal with the hotel, the movie was given a discounted locations fee in exchange for Jerry performing at the hotel at night. So perhaps this footage was shot there and then? Only not as the act itself but as a dress rehearsal? This might explain why the person who posted this labels it ‘The Bellboy rehearsal’–I can’t see any other reason since this act doesn’t appear in the movie. (I deeply appreciate the fact that this footage has appeared but am not terribly impressed by the lack of information or context the person who posted it has provided). This part of the act is mostly a bunch of gun and cane tricks followed by a little soft-shoe. Of particular note is the moment at 1:53 where, for mysterious reasons, Jerry goes off the rails with anger, smashes one of the black canes and tells the camera to cut. What the hell happened to provoke this childish but scary outburst? We can safely assume that this is what the Lewis children lived with at home–an entertaining father who, for no good reason, suddenly smashed the room up and screamed at his terrified children. Jesus. Every time I write about Jerry, things go downhill as I write and I wind up feeling annoyed that I’ve given this bastard the time that I have. But that’s the ‘me and Jerry’ love/hate cycle–one that I can’t seem to escape.


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2 Responses

  1. This is “wild ” I have the same love /hate cylcle with Mr. Lewis… spent some time with him with Buddy Greco on several occasions that were quite ” interesting ” to say the least and Buddy had some stories about their friendship that were also eye opening !
    Thanks for this post !

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