By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Andy Rector

“Don’t try to sound wise or informed about Jerry, don’t try to shed light.  He rejects being understood, quite properly, and his impulses live in darkness.  At any rate, nobody really knows anybody in this life, we’re all surprises—a fact Jerry’s every twitch elucidated.  The countless commentators who worked through the decades to label Jerry, judge him, pass sentence, never sat with him at table, yet eagerly framed him in personal, not professional, terms.  We never met, but I always cherish a tiny moment caught and held by Martin Scorsese in The King of Comedy, where a man I take to be very like Jerry, named, of course, Jerry, pauses in the atrium of his New York apartment to watch Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street on his television: the penetrating regard, the poise, the suspension of breath, the meticulous air of analysis (which I take to have belonged to both the onscreen Jerry I watch there and the real Jerry playing him) give me a thrill, as though in working to scrutinize this TV watcher I am picking up some of the mojo that is already his, in watching the film on his screen.  Perhaps Jerry Langford isn’t Jerry Lewis in any way, and I’m not getting anywhere near Jerry Lewis by observing him, but I really don’t believe that.

It seems he was always in the glare of one light or another, arclight, klieg light, candlelight, sun. That for him being in the light came naturally (stepping out through the billboard mouth hole in Artists and Models) and therefore couldn’t have been a torture.  Yet can we ever be sure?  Think of Bertolt Brecht’s lines for Kurt Weill:

Some in light and some in darkness
That’s the kind of world we mean.
Those you see are in the daylight.
Those in darkness don’t get seen.

Since, watching Jerry, we sit in the darkness, can we really know what it is to suffer illumination—always unless one retreats, from every side, and with howling voices?  Jerry’s performative antics were hugely visual. It is interesting that Jerry, an unwavering source of brilliance, was somehow not a source of illumination.  Illumination was neither his method nor his path, although he was a blinding sun.  The confession speech at the end of The Nutty Professor, where he breaks up during “That Old Black Magic,” then stands on the stage and tells the story of his life:  it is pure sunshine, if also, simultaneously, degradation. ”
~ Andy Rector

Comments are closed.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“We’re all going to die so it makes it very easy. I haven’t always thought that way but I’ve realized it’s the truth. I think age gets you there, questioning your mortality… When you realize that, it’s so liberating, it’s so free, you can fly! There’s no need to hold on to anything. Like, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you; it’s probably happened to 500 million people as well. Who gives a shit!”
~ Steve McQueen

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children.”
~ Stan Lee, 1965