MCN Originals Archive for September, 2009

Wilmington on DVDs: The Wizard of Oz, Monsters vs. Aliens and more…

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC The Wizard of Oz (Four Stars) U. S.; Victor Fleming, King Vidor (Unc.), 1939 (Warner) Some movies appeal to just about everybody — like the heart-stoppingly entertaining and wonderful 1939 musical that MGM made out of L. Frank Baum’s American fairy tale, The Wizard of Oz (now released in a…

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Wilmington on DVDs: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, That Hamilton Woman, O’Horten and more…

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Two-and-a-Half Stars) U. S.; Gavin Hood (2009) The question of the day, in a world beset with war, pandemics, economic collapse, crazed cable news-slingers and

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Wilmington on DVDs: Easy Virtue, The Country Teacher, Wagon Master and more…

Easy Virtue (Three Stars) U. K.; Stephan Elliott, 2009 (Sony) Noel Coward’s blithe, spirited, sexy ’20s play, Easy Virtue, is not new to

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Review: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

MCN Review: It is not the very best Gilliam ever, but it does play like a kind of greatest hits combined with more innovation from a master filmmaker. The big thing here is CG matching Gilliam’s sizable imagination more powerfully than ever. Of course, his love of theatrical ideas – literally, from the theater –…

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Wilmington on DVDs: State of Play, Earth, Sin Nombre, Skin Game, M*A*S*H* and more…

State of Play (Three Stars) U. S.; Kevin Macdonald, 2009 (Universal) There’s stuff wrong with State of Play, director Kevin Macdonald’s would-be brainy newspaper thriller

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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