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"Cinderfella" was Jerry Lewis' answer to the classic Cinderella story. And he intended it to be a masterpiece. To say that it fell somewhat short of it's goal is putting it mildly, but it's not bad. The plot is, of course the familiar story, with a few (expected) variations. When his father dies, poor Fella (Lewis) is left at the mercy of his snobbish stepmother (Judith Anderson) and her two no-good sons, Maximilian (Henry Silva) and Rupert (Robert Hutton). As he slaves away for his nasty step-family, Maximilian and Rupert attempt to find a treasure Fella's father has supposedly hidden on the estate. Meanwhile, hoping to restore her dwindling fortunes, the stepmother plans a fancy ball in honor of the visiting Princess Charmein (Anna Maria Alberghetti) whom she hopes will marry Rupert. Eventually, Fella's Fairy Godfather (Ed Wynn) shows up to convince him that he has a shot at winning the Princess himself. Lewis had big plans for the film's release. Although it was completed in January of 1960, he insisted it make it's debut that Christmas, complete with a holiday campaign and record album tie-in. In the meantime, he produced and starred in a low budget item called "The Bellboy" in order for Paramount to have a Jerry Lewis movie for summer release. "Cinderfella" was given a lavish production and a formidable supporting cast was recruited to co star with Lewis. He was indeed fortunate to obtain the services of Judith Anderson, who, while not a performer one would expect in a Jerry Lewis film, was nevertheless excellent as the stepmother, bringing just the right touch of arrogance to the part. Ed Wynn is reliably daffy as the Fairy Godfather,though, due to severe editing, he disappears before the climax, and is not seen again. Silva and Hutton do what they can as the stepbrothers, but the beautiful Alberghetti has nothing to do but fall hopelessly in love with the hapless Fella. The pace of the film is somewhat choppy, and several critics pointed out that the editing had left voids in the plot. The film originally ran 99 minutes, it ended up at 88. Sure enough, it was released at Christmastime, when it inspired some of the most scathing critical comment ever bestowed on a Lewis picture. Most of this was devoted to Lewis' own performance, and his frequent mugging, mixed with his pathetic attempts to play for sympathy. "Cinderfella" did just O.K. at the box office, and it ended up well behind the modest "Bellboy" which was a box-office smash. Thanks to handsome sets (with exteriors filmed at the "Beverly Hillbillies" estate in Bel Air, CA), costumes and a pleasant (if unmemorable) score, "Cinderfella" is entertaining enough to get by. But you'd better be prepared for a lot of "singing/mugging" from the Producer/Star, who fancied himself a brilliant vocalist. After all, though, this is SUPPOSED to be a fairy tale!
Decades before there was a Jim Carrey, the movies unleashed another inspired
nut case Jerry Lewis whose 50s and 60s Paramount Studio vehicles tended
toward an oil-and-water mix of outrageous physical comedy and mawkish
sentimentalism. 1960's "Cinderfella" is a casualty of that uneasy
Taking the classic fairy tale and tailoring it to fit his talents, the stretch-faced, rubber-limbed comedian portrays "Fella," a poor, imbecilic, ostracized stepson who lives only to serve his cruel, absurdly wealthy stepmother (Judith Anderson) and her two greedy sons (Robert Hutton, Henry Silva) in their palatial mansion. The only reason they even allow Fella to still "bunk" at the mans (his bedroom is more the size of a closet) is that Fella's late father has hidden a vast fortune somewhere on the grounds of the estate and the step-kin think the dolt may know where it might be hidden.
Jerry is priceless when it comes to engineering clever, complex, high-energy sight gags. A testament to his versatility here is his miming flutist scene as he listens to a ditty on the radio in the kitchen (one of my all time favorite Lewis routines). The dinner scene where he caters to his family at an absurdly long dining table is another ingenious moment. Sprinkled throughout too are numerous well-timed bits, like the reading of the inscription off his father's ring, or (the frequently used) hair-combing bit, etc. But too much of the time, Jerry bogs the scenes down with cheap, slick, sentimental mush. He gets what I call "telethon tender" on us -- trying to work our heartstrings instead of our funnybones.
I remember the Marx Brothers having the annoying habit of breaking up their frantic comedy skits with "straight" musical numbers sung by some insipid ingenues that always took away from the fun. Same problem here...only worse! Lewis incorporates HIMSELF, a very mediocre singer, into these cloying musical numbers, and ten times out of ten they don't work. In "Cinderfella," he allows himself no less than FOUR soporific songs to indulge in, with one of those numbers, some silly nonsense about being a "people" instead of a "person", just unbearable. Jerry the Clown sells; Jerry the Lounge Lizard doesn't.
Judith Anderson is appropriately huffy and haughty and Henry Silva and Robert Hutton make a fine pair of oily villains, while proving good sports, too, as the unwitting victims of some of Jerry's mishaps. But the late, great Ed Wynn is wasted here as the "Fairy Godfather," mired in those gooey scenes I was talking about before. The demure, exceptionally lovely Anna Maria Alberghetti, who complements the lavish surroundings, appears too late in the proceedings to make any difference as the "Princess Charming" character who, for whatever reason, is smitten by the ungainly Fella. By the time she arrives, the film has lost its charm and humor, and we have lost our patience. It's too bad she didn't get to sing instead of Lewis.
I know it sounds like I'm not a fan at all of Jerry's, but I am! Like many producer/director/stars of his calibre, their egos get the best of them. Like Elvis Presley, most of his vehicles were not up to snuff. And in the case of "Cinderfella," Frank Tashlin may be credited with directing, but I think we all know who the director REALLY was on this set.
For those who appreciate Jerry as only the French can, I would suggest "The Disorderly Orderly," "The Ladies Man" and his most popular, "The Nutty Professor," to get a better feeling of this man's genius.
I thought this was the cutest movie I've ever seen. Jerry Lewis is absolutely hilarious. I was not a big Jerry Lewis fan when he worked with Dean Martin. I had a very hard time getting into his work. However, when he went out on his own, I really became interested in his work. I would like to make mention of some things I found very interesting and very funny in this movie. For example, instead of a fairy God mother (like Cinderella had), he had a fairy God father. He also read approx. 50 words when reading the inscription on the ring given to him by his deceased dad. Like Cinderella, Cinderfella was a loving, hard-working and honest person who was treated unfairly at first. He waited on his step mother and step brothers hand and foot. I happily remember when he went to the kitchen to make orange juice and proudly put his hand out the kitchen window, pulled in a tree branch, took a knife and cut off several very large orange to use in the juice. I thought it was creative to have him listen to the radio and act out playing the flute. I loved it. But, like Cinderella, Cinderfella was rewarded in the end for all his hard work. I waited with excitement to see how he would get to the ball and loved what the writers came up with.. And when he made his grand entrance into the ball, I couldn't help notice what a smooth dancer Jerry Lewis really is. I thought the music was beautiful. After I saw this movie I had such a warm loving feeling in my heart and I really thank God for this touching comedy. Jerry Lewis is the funniest actor in the world and his shoes (glass or leather that is) will be very hard to fill in the future. Thank You.
My mom told my sister and I she saw this movie when she was very young and absolutely loved it. So, I did what my mom wanted me too, was to Netflix it, and when it finally came, we all sat down to watch it. And...it was so awesome! I love Jerry Lewis. I've never seen a movie by him, and he was hilarious. I loved his singing too. He was amazingly great. I wasn't expecting him to be terrible or anything, but you know. I loved all the things he did. Just some simple things made it hilarious. I loved it! I think any kid maybe about 4 or older will love this. I am 14, and I enjoyed it so much. It's a movie I'll definitely have my children watch! It's an amazing movie, that I think anyone will love. This movie is definitely recommended.
This should've been foolproof: Jerry Lewis playing a male variant of Cinderella, unloved and hoping to go to the ball. Talented writer-director Frank Tashlin allows Lewis to run rampant with the idea, which turns out to be a one-joke affair. Production is glossy, but the execution is enervated, overlong and fairly unfunny from the start. Jerry predictably mugs--he's never less than shameless--but with such weak material (and too much incidental chatter), he simply becomes a nuisance. His entrance in the ball sequence is, however, a wonderful bit, but it can't save the movie from being a huge disappointment. *1/2 from ****
One of Lewis's early non-Martin films. Superior production values and
charm throughout, this is a true Sunday afternoon family affair. Based
on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Cinderella", orphaned Lewis is
trapped in the situation of being royally taken advantage of by a
selfish, scheming step-mother and her two full-grown layabout,
playboy-wanna-be sons. The estate and a sizable fortune that went with
it was to go to Lewis, but his "family" cleverly swindled him, making
Lewis feel grateful to be "allowed to stay". Used and abused as
house-boy, Lewis attracts the attention of a love-interest, much to the
chagrin of the two rejected step-brothers. The rest is predictable.
Not a huge box-office success, this piece of light Hollywood candy nonetheless has found steady fans in the wonderful world of TV re-runs. Like Annette & Frankie and their beach outings, a steady supply of 1960s Jerry Lewis films have been shown and shown again on small screens all over the world. To own this gem on VHS is a sound investment in the comedy entertainment of any household. A big winner in my book!
this is a sweet,warm and adorable film but i would feel better if jerry wrote it. taken from the fairy tale, jerry does it again by being funny and throwing in some cute gags! ed wynn was great as the fairy godfather and the rest of the cast made this a great, heart warming movie. but, of course, jerry really shined. as in the nutty professor, jerry belts out wonderful songs with his swinging voice. the story was written and flowed nicely, but if the ending explained fella's and princess charming's relationship together, it might of been for the better. wow! who knew jerry could dance so well! the scene when jerry turned a swinging dancer was one of the best scenes in the film! i recomend this movie for anyone looking for a cute and touching story with some jerry lewis charm!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Forget the age-old story... in the hands of Jerry Lewis, 'Cinderfella'
becomes something special. And in this case, there are some marvelous
set-pieces that are truly memorable.
Most notable is Jerry's entrance to the grand ballroom. Standing at the top of a staircase, snapping his fingers. Jerry moves beautifully across the screen, utilizing all 63 steps -- all to the sound of a sexy Count Basie number. His moves seem perfectly syncopated to the music. It's a wonderful scene.
And as Jerry has said, all done in one take -- which seems perfectly believable when you then hear his voice crack slightly upon taking the princesses hand ("Excuse me...").
I do like watching Jerry squeeze the oranges in the kichen. An ordinary task made funnier by his body language and goofy faces. And of course, the long protracted dinner table scene -- switching jackets, running back and forth, the salt in the soup -- great stuff.
The rest of the cast are good too. Henry Silva is wonderfully slimy as Jerry's conniving brother. And the beautiful Anna Maria Alberghetti is perfectly cast as Princess Charming. Though I wish the big dance number with Jerry had shown more of her.
There are some very funny scenes and as sappy as the story gets, it's rather sweet ("Keep breathing fish!). Considering that Jerry had already been in his hugely successful act with Dean Martin (where most performers would have retired), it was quite an accomplishment to have started carving out a solo career.
This man may have his flaws, but Jerry Lewis is priceless.
The old story told with a twist. The sexes are reversed in this one.
This time it's Jerry Lewis victimized by a wicked stepmother and her 2 hoodlum sons. Who else but Ed Wynn could play a fairy godfather?
Dame Judith Anderson, a veteran player of the wicked, is at it again but how can we expect this great lady to add comedy to spice up her performance. She needed to do her part with a comic twist as Jo Van Fleet did in the television version of "Cinderella." Sadly, that's missing. Playing the role straight is of no consequences in this farce. The sons come off like underworld hoods. It's a little too heavy for this film.
Jerry is funny but his attempts at singing fall quite flat.
Nice to show the kiddies that guys can be victimized too.
I have nothing against Jerry Lewis - in fact, I've found several of his
other movies funny. CINDERFELLA, however, was quite painful to sit through.
The fault chiefly lies on Tashlin, who wrote and direct. He milks a gag
endlessly, and there aren't very many humorous things in the movie in the
first place. The music numbers consist of bad songs sung badly. Near the end
of the movie, the movie looks like it went through some major editing,
resulting in a number of things not explained or resolved. One good thing
about the movie is the sets - they look lavish!
I hear they are planning to remake this movie. Though I usually balk at remakes, at least here they are planning to remake a BAD movie - which means there is plenty of room for improvement.
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