The Nutty Professor - Special Collector's Edition
Length: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Restored English Mono, French Mono
English & Spanish subtitles; Closed Captioned in English
Special Features: Director Commentary; two featurettes, deleted scenes, promos, bloopers, theatrical trailer
Jerry Lewis directed, co-wrote and stars in this riotous sendup of the Jekyl and Hyde story. This was a departure from Lewis’ earlier work with Dean Martin, as well as his first couple of solo pictures. This film aims for a more mature audience than, say, Cinderfella or The Bellboy.
Lewis plays the dual roles of Professor Julius Kelp, and his alter-ego Buddy Love. Kelp is mild-mannered, homely, bucktoothed and nearsighted. Buddy Love is a confident, boorish swinger. One drink of the secret potion, and Kelp becomes Love.
Stella Stevens plays a beautiful student, and love interest for both Kelp and Love.
Rounding out the cast are Del Moore as Kelp’s boss, and Kathleen Freeman as a school secretary.
Also appearing is Les Brown and His Band of Renown, providing excellent backup for Lewis in his Buddy Love persona.
Many consider The Nutty Professor to be Jerry Lewis’ masterpiece. While it is perhaps his most finely crafted film, it isn’t his funniest. That’s not to say that the film isn’t funny, because it is - but Lewis plays up the caricature humor rather than the slapstick and pantomime that he is otherwise so well known for.
The Nutty Professor is classic Jerry Lewis, and is a must for Lewis fans, especially those who enjoy his post Martin & Lewis films.
The picture is displayed in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically enhanced.
The image is sharp, with some occasional and very minor sharpening artifacts. Colors are beautiful, bright and saturated.... and I mean these colors really pop! Check out the scenes at the Purple Pit. The image has high contrast, with solid whites that don’t bloom, and accurate black levels which maintain detail in the shadows.
There is a minor but noticeable variable shimmer in the brightness of the image which, while not all that uncommon on films of this age, is a bit distracting. It looks as if the print emulsion had uneven density, possibly due to age, and that variable density causes changes in brightness, which appears unevenly across the frame. Given the age of the print, it is excusable - but it is a noticeable issue. There is also a moment or two where a very faint interference pattern can be seen on the screen.
At 26:45, the image exhibits a vertically oriented blur that lasts for about twelve seconds.
There are occasional specks and spots on the print, but it is remarkably clean for its age.
This is a pretty impressive transfer, given the age of the film. The defects that exist in the print are minor, and excusable artifacts of age.
You have a choice here of an English 5.1 Dolby Digital remix, a restored English Mono track, a French Mono track, and a commentary track.
The 5.1 remix is very well done, opening up the musical track while pretty much leaving everything else alone. There is very little activity in the rear channels at all. I had to get right close to the rear speakers to hear any activity at all, and what I could hear was music reverb. With few exceptions, this is what I like a 5.1 remix from a mono source to sound like... I don’t like a processed or remanufactured sound. Aside from the enhanced music, the 5.1 track offers up enhanced bass response, as well.
There is a little bit of vocal distortion on one of the musical numbers. This is also present on the mono track, so it was probably on the original recording.
Overall, the 5.1 remix is very well done.
The English Mono mix sounds very good - similar to the 5.1 track, but without the stereo music. The frequency response is fairly good, though there is less bass response than is found in the 5.1 track.
Commentary by Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence
This commentary starts of in an unusual way, with Steve Lawrence singing the lyrics to the opening theme.
There are some great nuggets in this commentary, but Lewis and Lawrence seem to frequently get so caught up in watching the film that they forget to make any comments.
Mention is made of the pioneering use of video assist in this film (which had its first use in Lewis’ The Bellboy. Lewis points out areas where, in retrospect, he might have done things differently. He also talks about one of his early injuries that he sustained in the biz, shooting a scene in the gym.
If you’re looking for deep analysis, you won’t find it here. And while there are long pauses in the commentary, the occasional nugget of interest, along with the friendly rapport between Lewis and Lawrence, makes this worth sampling.
The Nutty Professor: Perfecting the Formula (15:46)
In a new interview, Jerry Lewis talks about his fondness for the Jekyl and Hyde story, and he wanted to make a comedy-musical version. Lewis talks about the creation of the voice of the professor.
There is considerable discussion of the departure this film took from Lewis’ standard comedic fare.
Stella Stevens discusses her role in the film.
There is talk about the comparisons that have been made between Buddy Love and Dean Martin. Lewis dismisses the notion that the Love character was patterned after Martin. He says that Buddy Love was a conglomeration of every nasty son of a bitch he’d ever met.
There are lots of anecdotes about the people and events on the set, as well as an explanation for the notion that the French love Jerry Lewis.
Jerry Lewis at Work (29:57)
Lewis recounts making The Delicate Delinquent as a solo endeavor, though it was originally written as a Martin & Lewis comedy. Coming right after the split of Martin & Lewis, Jerry Lewis had a difficult time on the project. Though Darrin McGavin adequately played the role originally written for Martin, Lewis was always uneasy with the project.
From there, this featurette moves on to other major Jerry Lewis films, featuring an extended discussion of the lavish and colorful Cinderfella. There is discussion of Lewis’ love for color in the set design, his association with Count Basie and his orchestra, etc.
The Bellboy came into being because Paramount wanted to release Cinderfella in the summer, but Lewis had always envisioned a Christmas release for the film. Paramount told him they needed a Jerry Lewis film for the summer, so Lewis threw together The Bellboy. Amazingly, it is one of his most loved films. This film is another major focus of the featurette.
There is also discussion of the invention the Jerry Lewis is credited with, which came about when The Bellboy was being made. That invention is the video assist, and it remains an absolutely essential part of filmmaking today.
With those, and a few other Lewis films discussed in this featurette, this is a wonderful retrospective on Jerry Lewis’ career.
There are five deleted scenes, with a “Play All” feature, totaling 6 minutes, 40 seconds.
A number of “Jerry and Stella” promos for the film, some complete with bloopers, clappers, etc. These total over four minutes.
14 bloopers and gags from the film, with a “Play All” feature. These bloopers total over 13 minutes.
Jerry at Movieland Wax Museum (0:44)
A brief clip of Jerry Lewis at the unveiling of the wax sculpture of Professor Kelp at the wax museum, with commentary by Chris Lewis.
Kelp Screen Test (0:45)
Dr. Warfield Screen Test (1:45)
Kelp Calls His Father (3:03) (B&W)
Jerry Lewis fans will be pleased with Paramount’s presentation of The Nutty Professor. While the picture quality isn’t perfect, it is quite good given the age of the print. The 5.1 remix and the restored mono tracks are both quite good. With well over an hour of interesting, quality bonus features, plus a commentary, this DVD is a must for all Jerry Lewis fans.