The Nutty Professor (1963)

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The Nutty Professor (1963)

Post  BoG on Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:47 pm

The original with Jerry Lewis - forget the later tepid remakes with Eddie Murphy and whatnot; this is the one to watch for edgy comedy. It's a humorous version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Lewis stars as the goofy chemistry teacher at some college, where even the students look down on him and humiliate him, notably the jocks who actually physically abuse him when he annoys them (but it's all in good fun, heh-heh Twisted Evil ).  Lewis, who also directed, presents a study of extremes; there's no middle ground here. Witness the early scene of Lewis trying more conventional methods to better himself, at the local gym.  To make himself look even smaller and less imposing, he utilizes a 7-foot tall actor (Richard Kiel in an early bit part) as the typical gymnast there, to offer a stark comparison...

The twist with this version of the Jekyll-Hyde story is that the Hyde half of this particular character is the handsome, smooth-talking ladies man (still played by Lewis). During the initial transformation scene, Lewis makes the audience think that he is turning into some kind of gorilla-like monster, but that turns out to be misleading. But, it's still all a case of extremes: just as his Jekyll is unbelievably dopey and goofy, so to is his Hyde unbelievably cool. For me, the key scene is after Lewis makes his first grand appearance as the smooth "Buddy Love" and then takes out a local rough guy. Lewis doesn't bother to soft pedal it or be subtle about it - his Buddy character is the ultimate smoothie, probably even better at it than James Bond and twice as obnoxious. It's startling to view his transition from goofball to cool dude; some viewers may even think it's two different actors. Stella Stevens is, as usual, very sexy as one of the students whom Lewis targets.  BoG's Score: 7.5 out of 10

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