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Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Jerry Lewis shows what could have been, might have been, with this gem
Giving a Jerry Lewis movie, any Jerry Lewis movie, a vote of ten is in some people's minds tantamount to movie heresy. That is, however, the vote I gave to Rock-A-Bye-Baby, and I stick by it. Believe it or not, before he became the king of overindulgent egomania in many of his later films, Lewis did manage to put a few good films on celluloid. These films were not only funny, but gave us charming, sympathetic characters, a good script, and good supporting casts. Of his early solo efforts, Rock-A-Bye Baby is the one that has stuck with me the longest, so it is the Lewis film I have chosen to talk about here.
Lewis plays Clayton Poole, a television repairman, who has gone through life carrying a torch for the beautiful Carla Naples (Marilyn Maxwell). Because of advice that Clayton gave Carla, she left town to become an actress, and ends up becoming a big film star. Carla's father, Gigi Naples (Salvatore Baccaloni) blames Clayton for his daughter going away. Then there is Carla's younger sister, Sandra (Connie Stevens), who is carrying the torch for Clayton. It turns out that Carla, had been married for a short time to a bullfighter who was killed in the bull ring. Later, just when she finds out she is to star in a film called (believe it or not) White Virgin of the Nile, she also finds out she is pregnant. Believing that she will not be able to do the movie if people find out she has had a baby (not to mention the way morality was looked at back then, see what happened to Ingrid Berman), Carla contacts Clayton to see if he will temporarily take care of the baby till the film is finished. Feeling that this is the one thing he can do for Carla, he agrees. What Carla doesn't tell Clayton is that there is not one baby, but three as she has had triplets.
What happens after that, well I set it up for you it's up to you to find the movie and watch it. Jerry as Clayton is funny throughout, without resorting too much to mugging while keeping the slapstick toned down to where it fits well into the picture. Marilyn Maxwell plays Carla, and though in todays climate it would hard to understand her motives, in this movie we are reasonably able to understand her motives, and despite the fact that she is using Clayton, we are sure she wouldn't if she had another way out. The rest of the cast is also good. Connie Stevens as Sandra, is sweet and funny, especially when she gets frustrated at Clayton for refusing her advances. Salvatore Baccaloni as Papa Naples, shows a rough mean exterior, yet we know inside he is a loving, carring, father. Reginald Gardner is witty and debonair as Carla's agent. Hans Conried who plays Claytons boss, could have been on note but it is not, as he also cares about Clayton despite Clayton's on the job foul-ups.
There is an early scene in this movie, where Clayton sings a song with himself as a child, played by Lewis's own son Gary. It sets the tone for the rest of the movie and from then on we are hooked. How does it all end? I'll not tell that, as it is one of the funniest endings of not only a Jerry Lewis movie, but of any movie.
This movie is for everyone. It has heart, it has soul, it has comedic genius. I only wish Jerry had made more films like this one. Then, not only in France, but in the USA, we just might be calling him "genius".
Till Next Time, Next Class Please
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