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
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (subtly adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:47m:17s
Release Date: 2000-10-17
DVD ReviewJerry 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+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
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 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 ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Layers Switch: 00h:50m:42s
- Paramount in the 50's Featurette
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsEven 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