Frank Sinatra plays Joe E. Lewis, a famous comedian of the 1930s-50s. When the movie opens, Lewis is a young, talented singer who performs in speakeasies. When he bolts one job for another,... See full summary »
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Sidney J. Furie
Frank Sinatra plays Joe E. Lewis, a famous comedian of the 1930s-50s. When the movie opens, Lewis is a young, talented singer who performs in speakeasies. When he bolts one job for another, the mob boss who owns the first speakeasy has his thugs try to kill Lewis. Lewis survives, but his vocal cords are cut and he cannot sing. Several years later, his buddy tracks him down and tries to help him with little success. That attempt, though, leads to Lewis meeting Letty Page (Jeanne Crain). They fall in love and she inspires him to follow up on an offer to become a comedian (a result of his buddy's failed attempt to rejuvenate his singing career). Lewis has problems, though. The assault that nearly cost him his life also helped turn him into an alcoholic and an inveterate gambler. These two character defects become the basis for his act and help to make him a smash success. Unfortunately, they also work to wreak havoc in his personal life. Written by
In real life, Danny Cohen owned the club in which Joe E. Lewis first worked. When Lewis defected for more money, Cohen gave mobster Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn (real name: Vincenzo Antonio Gebhardi), a lieutenant in Al Capone's mob, a 25% share in the club in return for his persuading Lewis to stay. McGurn's method of persuasion was the beating which Lewis received. See more »
When Joe is looking at the building directory, the close-up shows "MORRIS WILLIAM". Yet in the next shot as Joe turns to go to the elevator, it says "MORRIS Wm" See more »
Movie about singer stand-up comedian Joe E. Lewis with Frank Sinatra in the leading role as the beloved and at the same time tragic entertainer who survived a vicious knife attack in Al Capone's Chicago that ended his singing career.
Alone and forgotten years later Joe E. is spotted at the Belmont Race Track by his old friend Swifty Morgan, Jackie Coogan, who thinks that his velvet voice is back,or never really left him. Swifty offers Joe. E a job in a Broadway song and dance number with Sophie Tucker. It turns out that Joe E. is nowhere the singer that he used to be but he had developed a very sharp sense of humor and rapid-fire delivery. That together with a couple of stiff drinks on the stage, to loosen him up, had the night club costumers rolling in the aisles.
We get to see Joe E. Lewis go from being almost forgotten to reaching the top of the entertainment world and then slowly destroying himself and those who loved and cared for him. Like he did to the blood-blooded socialite Letty Page, Jeanne Crain, who wanted to marry Joe E. but finally gave up when Joe E. left her for two years during WWII doing shows and getting drunk, overseas. Marrying showgirl Martha Stewart, not the one that you think but someone else,(Mitzi Gaynor) lasted just two years. As Martha was getting parts in motions pictures Joe E. got drunk doing his night-club act and in the end turned their home into a card playing casino and horse room. With dozens of Joe E.'s friends in attendance where Martha felt that she was a stranger in her own home.
Martha just about had it when she came to visit Joe E. in Vegas, in the middle of making a movie, and got the cold shoulder from him. Joe E. was more interested with the goings on the crap table then with the emotional state of his own wife. Hurt and humiliated by Joe E.'s actions Martha got herself gloriously drunk on a half dozen cocktails told him good-by for the last time and ended up walking, or better yet staggering, out on him for ever.
Joe E. on the stage doing his act really gets hot under the collar when one of the drunk, like himself, and abusive patrons in the audience makes a nasty and snide remark about him and is drunken wife, Martha. That leads Joe E. to get off the stage walk up to him and lay him out together with his friend and on stage piano player Auston Mack, Eddie Albert, who tried to intervene.
"The Joker is Wild" is a movie about the self-destruction of a talented entertainer who was trapped in a bottle because he needed it to preform on stage. At the same time turned him into a drunken an abusive personality that eventually proved to be his biggest enemy by far. More then any of the abusive and obnoxious customers that he had to deal with while he was preforming on stage.
Frank Sinatra as Joe E. Lewis has a chance to sing a number of his biggest hits notably the movie's theme song "All The Way". Sinatra's acting as the troubled and alcoholic comedian is among his best. There's a somewhat up-beat ending with Joe E. seeming to see the light and turn his life around which Joe E. did and outlived the predictions of his doctors who told him that if he didn't stop drinking he'd never live past middle-age. It had been reported from those close to him at the time that in the last years of his life Joe E.Lewis did his night-club act while downing glasses of tea not booze. Still it was obvious that the many years of heavy drinking took a toll on Joe E. Lewis and was a major reason in his not so sudden but very shocking physical deterioration and death.
P.S Joe E Lewish 1971 death certificate it stated that he died of among other things acute alcohol related complication's.
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