MCN Originals Archive for May, 2009

Wilmington on DVDs: Of Time and the City, El Dorado, Zabriskie Point, and more…

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Of Time and the City (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U. K.; Terence Davies, 2008 (Strand Releasing) The sometimes mournfully brilliant British independent filmmaker Terence Davies returns to Liverpool, the place of his birth and growing up

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Wise Blood, Valkyrie and more…

CO-PICKS OF THE WEEK: CLASSICS The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U. S.; John Ford, 1962 (Paramount) John Ford’s last great Western is a visually spare masterpiece about the new and old frontiers

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Wilmington on DVDs: Tell No One, A Grin Without a Cat, Max Fleischer’s Superman and more…

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Tell No One (Three Stars) France; Guillaume Canet, 2006 (Music Box Films/MPI) A provincial French pediatrician named Beck (Francois Cluzet) — still tormented by the

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HotDocs: OnePiece: Yang Chung on optimism

For a few months I’ve been asking filmmakers for reasons to be cheerful. Why are they optimistic as artists or in their lives in the face of the dour moment we’re living in? Yang Chung (Up the Yangtze) and I grabbed a moment during a projection failure at the HotDocs premiere of Winnebago Man. [Or.]

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Wendy and Lucy, Science is Fiction and more…

CO-PICKS OF THE WEEK: NEW The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.; David Fincher, 2008 (Criterion) David Fincher, seemingly working at full intensity, gives us the epic adaptation of an obscure

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MCN Originals

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“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook

“Billy Wilder said to me, ‘Those of us who are hyphenates deserve a couple more beats,’ and I knew what he meant. As a director, you make sure a scene is not beat-heavy. You need just enough beats in the rhythm. Billy also used to say, ‘Whatever you do, is your mark. You don’t have to go out and impress someone. Let them look at your work.’”
~ Jerry Lewis