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Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown

American Culture, Comedy, Film & Film History, Jewish Film, Jewish Highlights
Gregory Monro
60 minutes

Accolades

World Premiere Telluride Film Festival

Official Selection
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

A FIRST-RATE DOCUMENTARY! - Leonard Maltin

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Synopsis

Since the early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such adored classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor. By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis surpassed expectations as a comic performer and emerged as a driving force in Hollywood. He broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye, even garnering respect and praise overseas. However, American critics and the cultural elite tended to reject his abrasive art. While they viewed Lewis as nothing more than just a clown, others like the French recognized him as a true auteur, giving rise to questions that have perplexed American pop culture for over 50 years: Why do Europeans love Jerry Lewis? What is this inexplicable aversion Americans have towards him? Is he just a brash, anything-for-yuk buffoon? Or is he a creative genius? Who is the man behind the clown?

Featuring Interviews with Martin Scorsese, Sean Hayes, Tony Lewis, Pierre Etaix, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Rae Beth Gordon, Ted Okuda, Shaun Micallef, and more. With appearances by Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Robert Benayoun and more.

Director

Director

Gregory Monro is a Paris-based French writer and director best known for his biographical documentaries, including Louis de Funès Forever (2013), which paid tribute to the late comedian's enduring work, and most recently Calamity Jane: Wild West Legend (2014), a docu-drama that recounts the moving and raw reality of the infamous frontierswoman. Both Films aired on Arte France, who also Co-produced Monro's latest documentary on Jerry Lewis.

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