Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Nutty Prof" Flunks -- Too Much Lewis

Cleveland Press June 21, 1963

Jerry Lewis is, without a doubt, a gifted clown. But he needs a good director and a good writer.

Jerry Lewis, director, Jerry Lewis, co-author of the screenplay, and Jerry Lewis author of the original story aren't doing Jerry Lewis, comic, any good.

"The Nutty Professor" is a waste of talent, a waste of superb color photography and a waste of time.

Jerry plays a dual role in a Jeckyl and Hyde story. He is Professor Kelp, a buck-toothed, nearsighted, accident-prone genius who is so meek and weak that he is bullied by a football player in his class.

A body building course does him no good -- except to provide some slapstick gym sequences. He turns to his test tubes and comes up with a formula that changes his personality and appearance.

The result is Buddy Love, a cool cat over whom girls swoon. He becomes the leader of the pack in a role that seems to be a combination of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

The trouble is that the stuff wears off and the deep voiced hep character turns back into square professor who speaks in a quavering upper register.

In both roles he romances Stella Stevens, a coed in his class. Miss Stevens is a voluptuous blond who registers a good deal more than blank expressions on her expressive face.

The makeup department has let her down though by using purple eye shadow and a lot of other gook on her face. It's disconcerting. Miss Stevens is engagingly disconcerting in such a pleasant way already.

The film wanders, bogs down in lengthy dull spots. Jerry Lewis has tried to inject some folksy philosophy as he turns back into the professor right in front of admirers. It's something about the virtue of being yourself.

Jerry Lewis should take the philosophy to heart.