WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT? (1970)

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

"Probably the most sustained demonstration of rhythmic brilliance in Jerry's work. Long before Tarantino, this Jewish retribution fantasy updates the old Nazi impersonation shtick to The Dirty Dozen times." – Cinema Scope

In what would be his last film as director for more than a decade, Lewis finds that sweet spot to which Chaplin, Mel Brooks and Tarantino have all been richly drawn: bizarre-world Nazi Germany.

Lewis is Brendan Byers III, America's richest man who's found himself rejected as unfit for military service in World War II. Undeterred, this patriotic capitalist – "[it's] every man's right to be killed fighting for his country," he insists – forms his own private army and heads to Europe to wage war on the enemy, impersonating a Nazi general and pursuing a plot to assassinate Hitler along the way.

Mixing broad comedy (Music to Mein Kampf by, indeed) with dark humour (a mutilated corpse, played by his real-life son, bears Lewis' birth name of Levitch), the film is also fascinating for sowing the seeds of its legendarily unreleased follow-up: 1972's mythical The Day the Clown Cried, in which the star plays a circus performer imprisoned in a concentration camp.

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