THE BIG MOUTH (1967)

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

"If Thomas Pynchon were a filmmaker instead of a novelist and had directed only The Big Mouth, he might have understandably left it at that. A visionary splintered-society satire cutting through delusions." – Cinema Scope

Lewis' eighth film behind the camera finds him mixed up in a ludicrous case of mistaken identity, playing a mild-mannered bank clerk who happens to be the exact look-alike of a wanted diamond smuggler the Mob is out to snuff. The film opens with Lewis hilariously fishing his dying doppelganger out of the San Diego ocean, where he's informed of the whereabouts of a priceless stash of stolen diamonds. Pretty soon every goon in town is out to get Lewis, who they mistake for their duplicitous colleague with a mixture of indignity and disbelief (veteran comic Charlie Callas' babbling tough guy breakdown is a thing of wonder.)

Animated by Lewis' undiminished way with sight gags and offering a schismatic societal parody that anticipates both Blake Edwards' The Party and Otto Preminger's Skidoo, The Big Mouth finds the director/star swinging and hitting across the comedic spectrum, unafraid to set a kabuki troupe set-piece inside Sea World or wheel out Colonel Sanders for a bizarrely unrelated cameo. With early, uncredited appearances by George Takei and Rob Reiner.

Chris Fujiwara, author of the book Jerry Lewis, will introduce the session on Monday 1 August.

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