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Paramount Studios presents

The Nutty Professor (1963)

"You're crazy about me, right? And I can understand it. Only this morning, looking in the mirror before shaving, I enjoyed seeing what I saw so much I couldn't tear myself away. Have some, baby?"- Buddy Love (Jerry Lewis)

Stars: Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens
Other Stars: Del Moore, Howard Morris, Elvia Allman
Director: Jerry Lewis

Manufacturer: PDSC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (subtly adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:47m:17s
Release Date: 2000-10-17
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-B+ D+


DVD Review

Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor is one of his most well-regarded comedies, released in 1963 in the post Martin-and-Lewis years, and remade as a successful Eddie Murphy vehicle in 1996. The story concerns nebbishy Professor Julius Kelp (Lewis), a chemistry professor who seeks to build up his muscle following an embarrassing encounter with one of his football playing students. When Vic Tanny fails him, he concocts a potion enabling him to become the suave, sophisticated Buddy Love (also Lewis), who commands attention in any room he walks into, sings Witchcraft and other swingin' tunes and nearly seduces one of Kelp's students, the gorgeous Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens). Comic Jekyll-and-Hyde complications ensue as Stella falls for the real Kelp despite his (and her) addiction to Love.

The story is relatively thin, and the script (co-written by Lewis with Bill Richmond) is so busy finding funny situations that some of the character development gets lost in the shuffle. But Lewis-as-director keeps the film moving at breakneck speed, pausing only for an extended take or reaction shot, and the cartoonish production design and sight gags keep the flavor light and slightly surreal (in one scene, Kelp's attempt to hoist a huge barbell stretches his arms to floor length!). Lewis also turns in a superb dual performance, toning down his sometimes annoying, hyperactive chatter as the more mature, downtrodden Professor Kelp and finding a new, darker persona as Buddy Love (closer to the Lewis seen on his famous Telethon and in The King of Comedy). Stella Stevens is appealing and intelligent as Stella Purdy, Les Brown and His Band of Renown provide musical entertainment, and the film benefits from a strong supporting cast of comic actors including Del Moore (as Kelp's boss, Dr. Hamius R. Warfield) and Howard Morris and Elvia Allman as his thoroughly dysfunctional parents.

I know that some people will swear they simply cannot tolerate Jerry Lewis for any length of time, and neither this review nor the film itself are likely to change that perception. But The Nutty Professor is a comedy classic; a sweet, adult, broadly-drawn morality tale driven largely by Lewis' considerable talent. If you've only seen Jerry Lewis in goofball, brainless comedies like the execrable The Caddy or Hardly Working, you owe him (and the people of France) a look at this one.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Paramount presents The Nutty Professor in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with a terrific anamorphic transfer. The source print is very clean with just a few flecks and one bit of damage, although brightness is a little unstable in the backgrounds of a few scenes. The dual-layer digital transfer looks just great, with brilliant color saturation and solid detail. Skin tones and makeup are slightly unnatural in some scenes, but I can't imagine this 1963 film looking better than it does here.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Nutty Professor features a remixed English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, as well as the original French monophonic track in DD 2.0, ProLogic-decoded to the center speaker. Though it's a shame the original English mono audio wasn't included, the 5.1 remix isn't bad at all—it's generally clean and front-oriented, with sound effects and dialogue centered. Music is spread across the front, with a bit of bass boost and faint surround echoes for ambiance. Dialogue sounds somewhat dated due to "live" recording and limited frequency range, but it's always clear and comprehensible. The mono French track sounds very flat in comparison, and the dubbing lip-synch is often approximate at best. The disc on the whole ends up seeming rather unfair to the French, whose love for Jerry Lewis goes largely unrequited here; to add insult to injury, there's a selectable but completely BLANK French subtitle track, preventing viewing of the film in English 5.1 with French subtitles.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:50m:42s

Extra Extras:
  1. Paramount in the 50's Featurette
Extras Review: Paramount provides few extras for The Nutty Professor, just 15 picture-menu chapter stops, English subtitles (a French subtitle track turns up if one plays with the remote, but it's completely empty) and the nine-and-a-half-minute retrospective featurette, Paramount in the 50s. The featurette briefly covers such classics as Sunset Boulevard and Roman Holiday (all film clips are presented in full-frame) and features some historical footage of Paramount stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. It's not a thorough overview of the decade by any means, and just barely mentions Jerry Lewis (whose The Nutty Professor was released in 1963, 3 years after the period covered by this superficial documentary). Director/star/co-writer Lewis is still with us, and it's a shame something more specific to the main attraction couldn't have been included here.

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

Even if you've never been able to stand Jerry Lewis, you ought to consider taking a look at The Nutty Professor—his over-the-top tendencies are well-suited to this cartoonish Jekyll-and-Hyde story. Paramount's DVD transfer is excellent, though supplements are almost non-existent, and the film is rightly considered one of Lewis' best. Take a deep breath and enjoy!

Dale Dobson 2000-10-21