Jerry Lewis’s ‘The Ladies Man’ (1961) is one of his most inventive and, simultaneously, unfunny films. Indeed, most of the comedy falls flat because of the films stylistic advances and ideas, which conversely still feel fresh, interesting and even startlingly good. The big deal in this movie is the massive set of the girls rooming house that Jerry works at. The house is seen from the interior, several stories tall with all exterior walls of the many bedrooms removed. Thus we see inside the rooms, though the walls partitioning the rooms from each other remain. This massive set, while impressive and well used, is also overwhelming and the action that takes place on it rarely lives up to the sets grandeur. No matter. It’s still a fun watch, especially for sequences like the above dance number which I think of as Jerry’s ‘black and white ball’–the whole thing is stylized, very mid-century and quite strikingly staged. Harry James’s band is present, resplendent in white tuxes–does anyone else see this as a possible inspiration for the ‘jazz heaven’ bit in Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’? Jerry’s sharp-as-a-stiletto dance partner is the wonderful Sylvia Lewis. She appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows in the 50s/60s/70s and is still very much with us at age 93. Someone (a fan? a family member?) put together a marvelous and comprehensive fan page for Ms. Lewis that I urge you to spend a little time pouring over. She’s one of those important but fringe figures that you’ve certainly seen but probably have never been able to identify by name.


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2 Responses

  1. So agree about this movie .. it is fascinating to look at and the overall timing is very off on almost every comic bit of business . The funniest scenes are his explanation of his middle name , his playing his mother and I am fascinated by the scene in which he drops the vase . Overall thought it is still an amazing and beautiful movie to watch . Thanks for this post and clip !!!

  2. Also I am not sure if i have posted this before but I would love to see a video of just all of Jerry’s dancing scenes on film and television … His dancing is eccentric and untrained but a total joy to behold !!!

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