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Turning the Spotlight On....Method To The Madness of Jerry Lewis

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 24 2012 - 08:11 AM



Studio: Anchor Bay

Street Date: January 22, 2013

Run Time: 116 Minutes

Format: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1



At one point during a Q&A taken during one of many filmed sequences

from Jerry Lewis' recent world tour, a member of the audience confesses

how much he worships the entertainer. That person might as well have been

me.  For I have loved and followed Jerry Lewis from childhood.  For me, he

remains the greatest entertainer/artist I have ever known.  If asked what person

I would most like to meet in my lifetime dead or alive, I would absolutely pick

Jerry over anyone else.  He's never ceased being one of my heroes.


Having seen a few documentaries on the life of Jerry Lewis over the years,

perhaps none does it better than A&E's http://www.biography...-9381122/videos


Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis is a very unique departure from past

docs in that Director/Producer Gregg Barson has been given unlimited behind-

the-scenes access to Mr. Lewis during his recent world tour.  The result is a

remarkably fresh look at Lewis' reigning career via brand-new interviews and

never-before-seen footage.  



Included here is a rare opportunity to see the 85 year-old legend entertaining

his audience with jokes, songs, and wonderful stories about his career.  During

a totally unscripted Q&A sequence, you can see just how sharp the entertainer's

mind remains as he reacts to unscripted questions thrown to him.  There are other

candid moments included here such as Jerry rehearsing with his band or facing

a crowd of reporters and fans at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.


Method to the Madness does an admirable job of diving into the film vaults

and providing us with many great moments during Lewis' career. We learn how

in 1931, Jerry was introduced to show business through his parents, and how an

accident on stage garnered enough laughter from the audience to make Jerry realize

how much more he wanted from them.  Of course, his 10-year partnership with Dean

Martin catapulted the duo to international fame and this documentary provides 

many classic moments for us to savor. It's rather incredible to see, from clips of

mass crowd reaction, that Dean and Jerry were the original Beatles.



If there is any complaint about Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, it would

be that there is too much information being crammed into such a short period of

time.  It's difficult to take all this new footage and interview and combine it with

a complete history of Jerry's long career.  Many of the classic clips are way too

brief to be completely enjoyed.  Astonishingly, I did notice some outtakes that I

have never previously seen, including multiple make-up tests from The Nutty

Professor.  I was also fascinated to hear some new perspective regarding Mr.

Lewis having his first heart attack at the point of racing to the top of the long set

of stairs that became a focal point in Cinderfella. I am not certain that this was

something that was previously discussed as extensively on camera as it has now.  

Finally, some new included footage from the Paramount studio lot during the filming

of The Ladies Man which shows how open Jerry was to allowing outsiders to come

in and walk on the set.  


While I found the A&E Biography to be the most complete look at the life of Jerry

Lewis, it's hard to rule out Method of Madness as being the perfect compliment to

that documentary.  Madness is more personable as many of the stories come from

Jerry himself resulting in an unfettered look at his 80-year career.  With Jerry being

personally involved, the documentary seems to stay in a safe zone, straying away

from saying anything about the difficulties that plagued the relationship between

himself and Dean Martin.  Not that I mind, considering that Method to the Madness

really aims to be a celebration of Jerry Lewis.


And this celebration is supported with interviews from a wealth of celebrities that

include Eddie Murphy, Carol Burnett, Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Carl Reiner,

Quentin Tarantino, Billy Crystal and John Landis (to name a few).  All this star power

seems kind of wasted here as all the time devoted to celebrity praise takes away from

the time the audience would rather spend watching Jerry.



Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis is the perfect companion piece for anyone

who adores the entertainer and owns most or all of his existing library available on DVD.  

Though it's somewhat lacking in giving us a complete look at the the life of Jerry Lewis,

it does affectively manage to reinforce why he has become a living legend -- particularly

for conveying his brilliance of mastering physical comedy and visual sight gags.   


For someone who loves Jerry and his work as much as I do, I found this to be a highly 

enjoyable reflection of the entertainer's career.



Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted December 24 2012 - 08:47 AM

I'm up for anything good on Jerry Lewis!

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   rmw650



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Posted December 24 2012 - 03:05 PM

I'm up for anything good on Jerry Lewis!
I'm still continuing to hold out hope that "Three Ring Circus" will finally see the light of day on DVD in 2013 as it's the last film that hasn't been released of Dino and Jerry. His other ones that haven't been released yet would also be good.

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