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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Nutty Professor - Special Collector's Edition (Recommended)



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#1 of 43 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 05 2004 - 06:24 AM

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The Nutty Professor - Special Collector's Edition





Studio: Paramount

Year: 1963

Rated: NR

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
Release Date: October 12, 2004





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.

Video
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.

Audio
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.

Special Features

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.

Featurettes

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.

Archival Materials

Deleted Scenes
There are five deleted scenes, with a “Play All” feature, totaling 6 minutes, 40 seconds.

Promos
A number of “Jerry and Stella” promos for the film, some complete with bloopers, clappers, etc. These total over four minutes.

Bloopers
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.

Test Footage
Kelp Screen Test (0:45)
Dr. Warfield Screen Test (1:45)

Other Footage
Kelp Calls His Father (3:03) (B&W)

Theatrical Trailer


Final Thoughts
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.

Recommended

#2 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 05 2004 - 06:41 AM

At last....Jerry on DVD.

Though this title has been out previously I
eagerly welcome the others.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 43 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 05 2004 - 07:25 AM

I plan to have a review of The Bellboy in a day or two. If I have time, I may review The Patsy.

-Scott

#4 of 43 OFFLINE   GlennH

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Posted October 05 2004 - 08:11 AM

Thanks for the review. Considering the low price I may have to check this one out.
Quote:
He also talks about one of his early injuries that he sustained in the biz, shooting a scene in the gym.
According to this article I recently read, all those pratfalls took their toll on Jerry physically. He claims to have been in constant pain for 37 years after chipping his spine in 1965. Almost committed suicide over it. But he's now pain-free thanks to a neurostimulator.

#5 of 43 OFFLINE   danak

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:25 AM

What is a "video assist"?

Dana

#6 of 43 OFFLINE   Mark Oates

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Posted October 05 2004 - 12:45 PM

It was the original name for the now common practice of linking a movie camera viewfinder to a video camera and recording the result to give the actors and director a cameraman's eye view of what has just been filmed.
J Mark Oates
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#7 of 43 OFFLINE   John KB

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Posted October 05 2004 - 01:24 PM

Ron- I'm dissapointed, I thought these movies would have brought you temporarly out of reviewing retirement.

I can't wait to get my copies!

#8 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 05 2004 - 09:04 PM

John,

I would have loved to review all those films --
and Paramount even offered to send them to me --
but I am so busy this week working on the National
Meet photo page that I just wouldn't have the time.

Thanks for thinking of me.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#9 of 43 OFFLINE   John KB

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Posted October 07 2004 - 09:34 AM

Just got ALL 10 of my dvds!! I can't wait. Jerry Lewis marathon starts in 5...4...3...2...1...

#10 of 43 OFFLINE   John KB

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Posted October 07 2004 - 03:22 PM

One quick comment.... Cinderfella can be fairly grainy at times, and colors seem subdued on some of the titles. A quick look at The Errand Boy, one scene has a line(s) going right through the center of the screen for over 30 seconds. That's not even on my vhs copy. Not sure if it happens again. I'm mostly very pleased and excited with what I see...just having some extras is great. But I have been slightly dissapointed with some of the picture quality.

#11 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 07 2004 - 08:20 PM

Yikes!

My copies arrive later today. I hope the
images are not as bad as what is being reported here.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#12 of 43 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted October 08 2004 - 01:32 AM

When I transferred ERRAND BOY for the Image laser release in the early 90's, I worked primarily from the 35mm master fine grain. When there was damage to the element, I worked from a 35mm dupe negative. For the track, I used the original full-coat 35mm magnetic master.

From what I'm hearing, it doesn't sound like they mixed and matched picture elements for the best possible transfer. That's too bad.

Bob Furmanek

www.3dfilmarchive.com


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#13 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 09 2004 - 12:37 AM

It is my understanding based on my talk with
someone at Paramount that these Jerry Lewis
films were not expected to do well in sales.

It is for that reason (and based on their price)
that I don't think these films were given the
best possible treatment that they could have.

Is this wrong? Well, of course people like us
are going to argue that the studio should have
done more with these films. On the other hand,
I can also understand Paramount's (and every other
studio's) point-of-view when it comes to how much
financing do you put towards a restoration of a
film that may not sell as well as another more
worthy title.

Quite frankly I am just happy that there is the
amount of extra material that there is on these
DVDs.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#14 of 43 OFFLINE   John KB

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Posted October 09 2004 - 02:11 AM

Ron- Same with me Ron. I'm definately not complaining. I'm thrilled to have them on DVD, and suprised just how much extra material there is.

#15 of 43 OFFLINE   Jaime_Weinman

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Posted October 09 2004 - 08:40 AM

I'm still a little annoyed that none of the Martin-Lewis films have made it to DVD (except The Stooge, which is their most atypical film). I know Jerry Lewis naturally wants his solo films to come to DVD first, but what I really want are the two films Martin and Lewis made with Frank Tashlin, Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust. And I fear that if the Lewis solo films don't do well, that will forestall any release of those movies.

Oh, well. I'll still be getting the Lewis/Tashlin movies like The Disorderly Orderly -- I should be grateful that there's finally at least some Tashlin available on DVD. I'm not a big fan of Lewis's self-directed films, though Nutty Professor is the best of them, but I'm a big Tashlin fan. (He's been scandalously neglected so far, what with Fox not releasing Girl Can't Help it and Rock Hunter, and what with WB having scheduled only one of his cartoons for DVD release.)

#16 of 43 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted October 09 2004 - 04:03 PM

Quote:
I don't think these films were given the
best possible treatment that they could have.


I think these films look fantastic overall. I talked to Chris Lewis, who produced the DVDs, yesterday, and he is absolutely thrilled with how they look. I can post his actual comments once I transcribe the interview in the next few days.

Quote:
It is for that reason (and based on their price)
that I don't think these films were given the
best possible treatment that they could have.


I don't know; I think these films have received excellent treatment. Their low price is more of a reflection of the fact that Jerry and Chris Lewis essentially made all of the extra material available for free. All of those supplements are there because the Lewises, who own the material, wanted them to be, and they didn't ask Paramount to pay for them.

Jerry has tons and tons of this stuff sitting in his vaults. Chris said there are something like 1200 reels of 16mm footage that is nothing but behind-the-scenes stuff, on-the-set and off-set material going back to 1948, including his time with Dean Martin and even his meeting with Charlie Chaplin.

Quote:
I'm still a little annoyed that none of the Martin-Lewis films have made it to DVD (except The Stooge, which is their most atypical film).

The Stooge is the first Martin-Lewis film released, because they only wanted to do one in this batch, and that one is Jerry Lewis' favorite. Chris Lewis said he hopes to do a boxed set of all 16 Lewis-Martin films next year.

And happy birthday to Chris, who turned 47 today.
Randy A. Salas
DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#17 of 43 OFFLINE   John KB

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Posted October 09 2004 - 05:04 PM

I think the dvds are fantastic. There are minor quibbles, but I really can't say enough good about them. I know I'm repeating myself, but the extras are just great.

Randy- Funny, you mention that the stooge is Jerry Lewis' favorite, yet there are absolutely no extras on that disc. I was definitely hoping for an audio commentary on that one.

My favorite Martin & Lewis, by the way, is Living it Up! & Hollywood or Bust

#18 of 43 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted October 09 2004 - 05:33 PM

Quote:
Randy- Funny, you mention that the stooge is Jerry Lewis' favorite, yet there are absolutely no extras on that disc. I was definitely hoping for an audio commentary on that one.


It sounds as if this first disc is just a test-the-waters kind-of release. Chris implied that it would be revisited with extras as part of a planned boxed set.
Randy A. Salas
DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#19 of 43 OFFLINE   BryanV

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Posted October 10 2004 - 01:52 PM

Has anyone had a chance to Look at The Family Jewels yet? I am dying to hear if Jerry made any comments about the "eye burn" scene during the commentary.

Also; has there been any mention of The Geisha Boy and when it will be released?

#20 of 43 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted October 11 2004 - 05:57 AM

Quote:
Also; has there been any mention of The Geisha Boy and when it will be released?


Chris Lewis hopes to do it soon with the other remaining solo films, but it seems as if a Martin-Lewis set will get priority. No date. It's ultimately up to Paramount and up to whether these new DVDs sell well--"which I’m sure they will," Chris said. "They’re doing a great direct-response campaign on television. I think it’s going to be very successful. A Martin and Lewis set would be the next step, as far as I’m concerned, and it would be really easy to do."

I'll have a link for my complete interview with Chris soon.
Randy A. Salas
DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper


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