USA, 1983 (MIFF 2016, Jerry Lewis: The Total Filmmaker)

Director: Jerry Lewis


"Serenely avant-garde … the culmination of the development of Lewis' cinematic language." –

After several unsuccessful suicide attempts, a hapless misfit seeks out psychiatric assistance. While on the couch, he relates the various memories and stories that have led him to his predicament – a journey on a very cheap airline; the experiences of his ancestors in 15th-century France – all laced with a heavy dose of comic absurdity.

Jerry Lewis' last directorial effort (also known as Cracking Up) was all but shelved by distributors, fearing that its characteristic mix of dark humour and slapstick would be out of step with the dispositions of 1980s cinemagoers. Yet, as time has passed and Lewis' work has begun to receive the critical reappraisal it deserves, Smorgasbord can finally be seen as it is: a bold parting shot from an eccentric genius.

Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum will introduce this sesion.

See also...


A late Rat Pack comedy gets the distinctive Jerry Lewis treatment. ... In this sequel to crime caper spoof Salt & Pepper, Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford reprise their roles as the eponymous Soho nig... More »


Lewis' directorial debut is an ingenious, nonlinear confection that riffs on silent era comedy and his own movie stardom. ... Written in just eight days at the Miami hotel that would become its settin... More »


"Lewis makes the camera a prism to break out the divergent, and even conflicting, strands of his own character." – The New Yorker ... Long before Lewis acolyte Eddie Murphy took to playing multiple ch... More »


"The most conceptual of Lewis' films … [a] masterpiece of a cinema of embarrassment that Lewis made his special domain and to which he alone holds the secrets." – Senses of Cinema ... Originally entit... More »


"Lewis constructed one of his sturdiest scripts in The Nutty Professor, and he wasted scarcely a minute of it." – The Dissolve ... Julius Kelp is a nerdy, klutzy, unpopular chemistry professor who is ... More »


"The candor of this movie as self-portrait is at times almost terrifying … it may be his most revealing [film]." – Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) ... After 10 years in the wilderness, Jerry Lewis... More »

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