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Hidelle and Jerk?
Brandt Sponseller2 June 2005
On the Nutty Professor DVD extras, Jerry Lewis says that he had been "enthralled with Jekyll and Hyde" since he was a kid. So it's only logical that he'd long to create this "Jekyll and Hyde comedy/musical". Oddly, The Nutty Professor tends to be read as only a comedy, in the modern colloquial sense of that genre term, as "a film that's supposed to make you laugh", but there's much more to it than that, and more intended than that. Which is probably a good thing, because even though I didn't laugh out loud very frequently while watching The Nutty Professor, I did enjoy it quite a bit, despite the flaws.

Lewis--who also directs--plays Professor Julius Kelp, a bizarrely nerdy-but-stupid chemistry professor. He has a knack for conducting dangerous, unauthorized experiments in the presence of students. At the beginning of the film, he blows up his classroom yet again. On a later day, a football student who was denied permission to leave class early for football practice responds by stuffing Kelp into a shelf. Beautiful student Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens) feels sorry for Kelp and helps him unstuff himself. Stevens skillfully has the slightest gleam in her eye while doing this so that we can tell that Purdy has an attraction to the strange-looking professor.

Spurred on by the incident--with both the physical abuse and the physical attraction as motivators, Kelp decides to give himself a make over. He first tries his luck at the local gym. When that doesn't work out so well he puts his chemistry knowledge to use and hits upon a potion that produces a Jekyll & Hyde transformation. The Nutty Professor has Kelp trying to balance the two personalities, with the expected calamitous but humorous results.

Although Lewis' Hyde character, "Buddy Love", is often said to be a skewering of his early comedy partner and pal Dean Martin, Lewis claims this wasn't the case. Both the nerd and the debonair but sublimely obnoxious hipster were supposedly amalgamations of different people Lewis had encountered over the years. Still, the similarities to Martin are difficult to deny; perhaps the character was partially a subconscious parody of Martin.

In any event, Love is entertaining to watch--he's something like a glossy trainwreck. Or maybe like a suave Satan in a silk suit. Lewis makes both characters complex in their differences from their respective stereotypes. Kelp is the stereotypical "absent-minded professor", only the absent-minded professor is usually a wiz at his academic subject. Lewis paints Kelp as primarily a wiz at being a slightly sympathetic dork, where his cockeyed chemistry successes are more accidental. Love is the stereotypical overbearing but attractive-to-the-women brute, yet Lewis is quick to imbue him with an odd combination of pathos and flair, so that Love ends up being both more fragile and more talented/intelligent.

Some of the material employing both characters is quite funny, but Lewis dwells on humor no more than a whole gamut of modes and emotions, from fairly serious horror material during the slightly overlong initial Jekyll/Hyde transformation to poignantly sad, touching scenes showing the crack in the Love armor. To an extent, the Jekyll/Hyde theme permeates the film in its shifting tones.

One of those modes that works surprisingly well is the musical material. Lewis hired the superb Les Brown and other great jazz musicians to provide songs. Les Brown's "Band of Renown" even makes an on screen appearance, performing a couple songs at a college dance. Lewis isn't the greatest singer, but he does a passable job with an alluring rendition of "That Old Black Magic". There's also a great version of "Stella by Starlight" in the background of a couple scenes.

The performances are quite good. Both Stevens and Del Moore, as Dr. Hamius R. Warfield, the college dean, easily hold their own next to Lewis, who does a remarkable job with the transformations. He's helped a lot by W. Wallace Kelley's cinematography. Kelley had a more than respectable, varied background, including camera experience on a couple Alfred Hitchcock films--To Catch A Thief (1955) and Vertigo (1958)--and Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956). Kelley uses very subtle angle changes to make Kelp seem small and insignificant (aided by Lewis' physical contortions) while making Love seem like a big, macho guy.

The production design is also gorgeous. Lewis directs his crew to fill the film with bold, unusual color combinations--most overtly in the rainbow-colored paints on the lab floor during the first Jekyll/Hyde transformation, the nice overlaying of purples and reds in The Purple Pit club, and the great, unusual coordinations of Love's suits.

Whether you find The Nutty Professor hilarious or not, it has certainly been influential. Lewis considers this his best film. The American Film Institute placed The Nutty Professor at number ninety-nine on its list of the "100 Funniest American Films" ("100 Years/100 Laughs"). Both Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey have obviously been influenced by this film, as they have been by Lewis in general. And Andy Kaufman's disparate characters Latka Gravas (from 1978-1983's "Taxi") and Tony Clifton (a regular part of his live act) are direct parallels to Kelp and Love, even if Kaufman had other influences for those characters, as well.

The Nutty Professor is also a "message" film. The dual "morals" of the story, in addition to the less conspicuous subtexts dealing with personal identity, are to not be afraid to be your true self and to accept others for their true selves--to look deeper than the surface level.

Given such wide-ranging moods and aims, it's probably best to watch the film without genre expectations. That's not likely to make those averse to Lewis' shtick enjoy it any more, but for everyone else, The Nutty Professor is worth a look. It will surprise you with its diversity.
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"The Satanic Glow of Buddy Love's Lounge Suits"
hernebay13 August 2001
One of the most depressing symptoms of the phenomenon of "dumbing down" is the drastically diminished time-frame of people's imagination and empathy, which function well enough microscopically and telescopically (at a range of, say, two or three hundred years, or the day before yesterday), but which cannot make the small leap back thirty or forty years. It is surely on such grounds that Jerry Lewis's masterpiece, "The Nutty Professor", might be dismissed as "dated" or be found "unfunny". Ever since I saw this movie as a child back in the late 60s it has haunted my imagination, and taken on a mythic existence that floats free of its actual content and context. On recently viewing it again on a borrowed videocassette I was startled by the internal organisation of the movie, by its pacing, and by the fact that Kelp's odious alter-ego, Buddy Love, who dominates the movie conceptually, is actually on screen for so little of its longish running-time. Since childhood I had cherished Buddy Love for his wit, glamour and self-assurance, which contrast so strongly (and therapeutically) with the painful gaucheness of Julius Kelp. Only now, as a mature adult, do I fully appreciate just how fundamentally unlikeable he is.

It is interesting to note that his allure works better at a distance: idolised by the hipster habitues of the Purple Pit, he is viewed with deep suspicion by Stella Purdy, even as he fascinates and intrigues her. "The Nutty Professor" is as firmly located in its milieu (the United States of the early 60s) as "War And Peace" is in its (Tsarist Russia at the time of the Napoleonic Wars); therefore, talk of "datedness" is beside the point. As an exact picture of life in 2001 the film is hopeless, but as a myth or parable, with Kelp, Buddy Love, Stella, et al., as archetypes, its power is undiminished. Jerry Lewis has never been happy playing it straight, and Buddy Love is as extreme and grotesque in his way as the hapless Kelp. He is also by no means entirely free of Kelp's flaws; his clumsiness during the slow dance with Stella shows how aspects of Kelp's personality continue to permeate his, and point to the incompleteness and volatility of the metamorphosis. Even his name, opportunistically extemporised for Stella's benefit, contains a deep irony, since, in spite of his superficial popularity and supreme sexual confidence, he is essentially friendless and incapable of deep feeling. If kindly Kelp is crippled by involuted intelligence, the sybaritic, self-seeking Buddy Love is stunted by affectlessness. (I am puzzled by the IMDb reviewer who found him insufficiently monstrous.)

Buddy Love's glittering lounge suits emit a satanic glow, and Jennifer, the caged mynah-bird, is a kind of familiar to Kelp, whose Faustian alchemy effects his painfully achieved and all-too-brief transformations into this eerie nightclub singer who generally only appears after nightfall (his one diurnal appearance being a spectacularly successful bid to persuade the otherwise pompous college Principal to sanction his headlining performance at the Senior Prom). In view of their acrimonious split it is tempting to view the Buddy Love persona as an acerbic commentary on Lewis's erstwhile partner Dean Martin, but the character also contains generous helpings of Frank Sinatra, and is perhaps best seen as a broad swipe at the Rat Pack. The wider message of the film is that kindness and intelligence (which Kelp already possesses) are far more important than the kind of shallow and flashy qualities that invest Buddy Love with his powerful but limited appeal (the rapid wearing-off of Kelp's formula, whose ingestion is attended by such agonising side-effects, shows that such a persona is literally unsustainable for any length of time).

Kelp's final speech at the Prom, when his appearance as Buddy Love has been cut catastrophically short, is indeed "heart-wrenching", but as both a summing-up of the main themes of the movie and a token of Kelp's increased self-knowledge, it is indispensable. This brilliant and disturbing film uses comedy as a vehicle to explore serious questions about the nature of identity. The Kelp who wins Stella's love is a better-integrated personality than either his earlier self or the grotesque alter-ego of Buddy Love, but a note of mild cynicism (defusing any hint of sentimentality in Kelp's Prom speech) is sounded when Stella pockets two phials of the formula put on sale by Kelp's formerly timid father (to whom he had entrusted it). (He had also entrusted it, of course, to his domineering mother, but it is perhaps significant to observe that the formula presumably only works with men.)
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Nutty + Proffesor= Fun!
curtaincall900025 January 2003
i enjoy watching jerry lewis's movies and this one is an all-time classic! the story is out of the ordinary and that's what makes it fun and enjoyable. it's very interesting to watch jerry's cute mannerisms such as:running his tongue over his teeth, stuttering [especially towards stella]and that memorable voice. i find the proffesor kelp character much more appealing then buddy love. b.l. can get on one's nerves with his smooth fonzie/gangster attitude. one of the best scenes in the movie was when j.l. sings "that old black magic". stella stevens portrays stella very well but how could a student/teacher marriage be looked upon? a must see and definetly a classic!
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Jerry Lewis in Hilarious Jeckyl/Hyde Comedy
mdm-1125 May 2005
This is by far the best of the Jerry Lewis (sans Martin) films. The Jekyll & Hyde storyline is the perfect outlet for Jerry Lewis' "physical comedy" genius. I bet the "French" were inspired by this performance, when they named Jerry Lewis their comedy idol. As a clumsy, yet lovable chemistry professor, the title character could hardly be considered a "babe magnet". When he discovers a magic potion that turns the nerd into "Buddy Love", his luck with the ladies appears to change. In the end, he learns that appearance is less important than character. A young Stella Stevens is effective as the grad-student love interest.

This original "Nutty Professor" is heartwarming and funny without offensive language and double-meaning visuals. It is far superior to its 1990s Eddie Murphy remake. Especially for a juvenile audience, Lewis beats Murphy by a mile!
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Still the best version there is
Mike-DD24 August 2000
The original Jerry Lewis version of this movie is still the best one ever. Irregardless of the special effects employed in the Eddie Murphy version, or the novelty of him playing multiple characters at the same time, the original has something the copycat doesn't - Jerry Lewis, still one of the best comedians on the planet. Lewis doesn't need the power of special effects or multiple roles to fully convey the story here. How he transforms from a nerdy professor to a suave and sweet-talking singing/dancing/kissing Romeo is a sight to behold. He employs acting techiques which manage to convince us that these are 2 distinct people with distinct personalities and characters. No one can top Lewis in his prime, and this is one of better movies.
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"That Old Black Magic"!
hernebay14 August 2001
Further to my earlier review, I would wholeheartedly endorse the opinion of other reviewers that the original Lewis movie is superior - vastly superior - to the crass Eddie Murphy re-make. Lewis's subtle points about Buddy Love (whom, I am unsurprised to learn, he loathed) are utterly lost in the Murphy version. If Lewis's movie fails as popular entertainment, it is because it makes extraordinary intellectual demands on its audience, requiring them to see beyond the surface glamour of Buddy Love to the moral rottenness and egotism within. Strangely enough, however, Buddy Love is not without pathos. There is enough of Kelp in him, together with the shakiness of his chemically-induced persona, to lend a faint suggestion of vulnerability. Perhaps even this is part of his satanic charm (he literally charms the pants off the college Principal). It is no coincidence that his calling-card number is "That Old Black Magic"!
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No Classic, but Lewis' Best
mrb19802 July 2006
I think that people can be divided into two groups: those that love Jerry Lewis movies, and those that hate them. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground.

Having said that, I am a confirmed hater of Jerry Lewis films. I find them sophomoric and excruciatingly bad, and each one has the same basic plot: Jerry Lewis' character is introduced, then he proceeds to stumble through the rest of the movie.

I'll make an exception for this film; it is the one winner out of all of Lewis' losers. The plot has been described in detail here, but it's basically the Jekyll-Hyde plot placed in a college circa 1963, where nerdy chemistry professor Jerry yearns for the love of one of his students (Stella Stevens). Lewis' transformation from Dr. Kelp to ultracool lounge lizard Buddy Love manages to be both campy and fascinating.

Great cinematography and good acting, plus a warm message and the luscious Stella Stevens make for a fine movie experience. As far as I am concerned, you can throw away all of Lewis' other movies and keep this's a winner.
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Hilarious, cynical and yet life-affirming.
elf-658 August 2006
"The Nutty Professor" never fails to amuse and touch me, no matter how may times I watch it. Kelp is an enormously sympathetic character whom nobody seems to like, while Buddy is an egotistical monster who dazzles students and staff alike. Lewis makes the point that it is not only Kelp who is unable to accept himself, but society is overly impressed by the flashy, the handsome, the glib and the shallow. Kelp's path to self-awareness isn't just a personal wake-up call, but an implied social critique.

Stella is the only protagonist apart from Kelp who processes on anything other than a superficial level. Her kindness to the professor hints at a deeper attraction, at least to the point where she acknowledges his attraction to her. Yet, the two bottles of formula in her jeans' pockets implies an incredibly cynical double-standard. Yes, she prefers Kelp's sincerity, his love, his kindheartedness, but she'd rather have Buddy Love in her bed. Edwina Kelp, similarly, has been tamed into girlish giggling submission by her newly confident and, one must assume, sexually dominant husband.

A couple of reviewers have mentioned that they don't find the film terribly funny. Have you had a fun-ectomy, people? Kelp's first visit to Dr Warfield's office (the seat, the watch, the fish, "your greens"); the business with his glasses having no home at the gym ("Actually, I'd appreciate it.."); the flashback to his parents early married life; Buddy ordering a cocktail; Buddy hijacking Stella's test ("Write nice!") goes on and on and on. Best bit, though, is Kelp's solo dance at the prom. Gets me every time, and I watch this flick at least twice a certainly is a toe-tapper. Well, zip and I'm gone.
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Best thing Jerry ever did...
El_Rey_De_Movies3 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Let me get this off my chest first: I am not a Jerry Lewis fan. I've always found his comedic antics tiresome and stupid, and his telethons for Muscular Dystrophy are nothing but daylong snooze fests. But, at one point in his career, he was able to bring it all together and create one of the great comedy films of all time, "The Nutty Professor". A comedic take on the familiar Jekyll and Hyde tale, it's the story of über-nerd Professor Julius Kelp (played by Lewis) and his search for love and a better self-image thru chemistry…which results in him changing into a creosote-haired, obnoxious, hard drinking, sexually voracious yet musically talented Rat Pack swinger named Buddy Love (also played by Lewis). While Professor Kelp loves his student Stella Purdy (played by Stella Stevens) from afar, Buddy has absolutely no problem sweeping her off her reluctant feet – until, that is, Kelp's formula starts wearing off and Buddy's tenor singing voice suddenly starts squeaking like the Professor's nasal twang! It all comes to a head at the senior prom where all the kids want to swing to Buddy's music but the formula wears off and Buddy/Julius (in a touching and almost-profound moment) has to face the reality of what he's done and that you'd better love yourself because you're stuck with you for your whole life. But Lewis shows that he could also direct, and pretty well at that. From the opening shot of test tubes boiling away with candy-colored chemicals, this has to be one of the most colorful movies ever made – just look at the deep purples of the lettermen sweaters or the entire décor of the Purple Pit or the violent primary splashes during the first transformation scene or Buddy's suits – especially his suits! Lewis has always denied that Buddy Love was based on his old partner Dean Martin but it's pretty obvious that Dino and Frank Sinatra (the hard drinking, arrogant, and supremely confident King of the Rat Pack) are the prime models for Buddy Love. But it's also interesting to see how traits from one character show up unexpectedly in the other, like when Julius proclaims during class that hydrogen "is a total gas" or when Buddy sings "That Ole Black Magic" and his voice keeps slipping into Julius'. And there's all sorts of other touches, like Buddy's intro into the movie: after Julius drinks the formula, writhes all over a chemical-splattered floor and transforms into a hairy Beatlesesque gray monster, the next scene shows the shocked reactions of people on the street as the "monster" walks from the University to the Purple Pit where the camera pulls a 360° turn and we see…Buddy Love in full swinger regalia ordering a drink called an Alaskan Polar Bear Heater that's got to be the most lethal combo I've ever seen served anywhere! This is the movie that shows why the French think this guy was a comedy genius - his particular brand of physical comedy is not only timeless but also totally independent of language. When you see Julius bopping to Les Brown's band at the prom, it doesn't matter if you're sitting in a movie theater in San Francisco, Paris, Timbuktu, or Outer Slobodia, it's damn funny stuff even if you don't understand a word of what he's saying. A truly funny movie that's perfect for the whole family.
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Jerry's solo best
yenlo4 January 2000
Easily Jerry's best film without Dean. After all these years it still holds up well. The Eddie Murphy remake was fine but this one did it without special effects. Favorite scene is the flashback of The Professors early life. His mother rules his milqtoast dad with an iron hand and in the background can be seen a toddler in a playpen who looks a little goofy. The close up reveals Jerry in baby PJ's. Then there is the legendary Alaskan Polar Bear Heater!
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Jerry's comic masterpiece
george.schmidt11 April 2003
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) **** Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens, Del Moore, Kathleen Freeman, Howard Morris. Jerry Lewis' comic masterpiece (which he also directed) adapts the Jekyll-Hyde story to tailor form-fitting to his loose frenetic talents and comes up with two memorable characters: feeble social outcast chemistry professor Dr. Julius Kelp all chipmunk-toothed geekiness and bad hair becomes lounge lizard, charming bully Buddy Love (some say he was inspired by Dean Martin, which Lewis steadfastedly denied). Funny, touching and out-there! Groovy, man, groovy!
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As Usual, Far Superior To The Remake!
Bradley Baum23 August 2004
My one line summary just about say it all. The remake did well due to the advancement of special effects, stage make-up and prosthetics. This film did not have that luxury. Jerry Lewis is fabulous as the gawky, quirky Professor. Both his natural comic acting talents and his natural straight acting talents shine through. When seen one after the other (i.e the remake and then the original or vice-versa) you can do nothing but agree with me that the original is the far superior film of the two. Eddie Murphy does his best with the remake and the sequel but the remake just doesn't have the class that the original has. Now I know that there are going to be those that say the remake must be better because there was no sequel to the original but lets be honest now, in todays day and age and as things currently are in the film world's state of affairs, if a film is (in the executive's and the board of director's eyes)successful enough, a sequel is always churned out. Back in the sixties when the original was made this very rarely happened if it happened at all. Those same people will also say that the remake made more money but that's because there are FAR more cinemas around now and it's effectively cheaper to go now even with a semi-bankable actor like Eddie Murphy.

(A bankable name, for those that don't know, is a name that guarantees the film being successful regardless of weather or not they can act. Will Smith has somehow become a bankable name and he has less ability to act than Pavarotti does to tap dance. The list of people like that is too big to put them all in and quite frankly I don't want to spend the time doing so. The same thing regarding the names that can act but an example of one that can is George Clooney.).

At the time when the original was made Jerry Lewis was the biggest box office draw of them all; I don't think that has ever been able to be said of Eddie Murphy. It's because of this that when you take into account how much money was taken on the original due to how many were able to see it and how many went to see the remake you will realise that the original comparatively took more and was therefore a better, no, not better, far superior film.
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Jerry Lewis plays lively two different characters as a chemistry professor and an elegant playboy
ma-cortes7 June 2012
Amusing and spasmodic comedy with the genius comic Jerry Lewis by relinquishing creative control and concentrating on the humor more than the fright , skilfully combining the entertainment with the amusement . To improve his social life, a nerdish , mild-mannered professor (Jerry Lewis who wrote seven scripts for the film by himself and two with Bill Richmond) drinks a potion that temporarily turns him into the handsome , but obnoxious, Buddy Love , a wicked impersonation of his old pal (though Lewis has repeatedly denied is a Dean Martin parody , but the proof is quite strong) .

Enjoyable film with characters genuine and sympathetic , it is plenty of humor , tongue-in-cheek , side-splitting sight gags and amusement . Jerry Lewis is top-notch playing a double role as the timid , meek professor turned into a dashing debonair , slim playboy type with an irresistible attraction . It was widely believed at the time that the Nutty Professor's sleazy alter ego, Buddy Love, was a satirical swipe at Jerry Lewis's longtime partner, Dean Martin . The picture results to be a parody and comic variation based on the classic novel ¨Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde¨ by Robert Louis Stevenson . According to one of the trailers for this film, Jerry Lewis urges you to see this picture from the beginning, on penalty of losing your popcorn privileges , this spoofs Alfred Hitchcock's dictum that Psycho had to be seen from the beginning and his insistence that no latecomers be seated . In the co-starring role stands out Stella Stevens , surely the most gorgeous girl any professor ever had . Furthermore , watch rapidly to Henry Gibson in his film debut , Richard Kiel , Celeste Yarnall , and William Smith . The motion picture was produced by , directed by , and starred by Jerry Lewis , at his best . Colorful and shimmer cinematography in Technicolor by Walter Kelley . Catching musical score by Walter Scharf , including various songs sung by Jerry Lewis and special intervention of Les Brown orchestra directed by Les Brown .

It's remade in 1996 as ¨Nutty professor¨ by Tom Shadyac with Jada Pinkett Smith and Edddie Murphy who takes a swig of his own secret formula and is transformed into the suave buddy ; and its sequel (2000) by Peter Segal again with Eddie Murphy and Janet Jackson .
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Is this the secret of Lewis' greatest film....?
A_Different_Drummer8 November 2013
Jerry Lewis himself always considered this his greatest film. He's right. It is. We will never know what he had in mind when he came with the idea -- looks like a stab at a "goofy" version of Jekyll/Hyde -- but whatever it was, it worked. Years later, Lewis would boast to interviewers that he not only had the pleasure of making this film a success at the time, but he made money a second time when he re-sold the rights to Eddie Murphy. (Who used said rights to make a film of considerably lesser merit. But HEY if Jerry had a payday, I'm happy for him.) Frankly it is hard to discuss the contribution of the rest of the cast because, of this there is no doubt, Jerry steals the entire picture. (In most of his other films, he "attempts" to steal the picture, but rarely succeeds. Here he nails it. Big difference.) Stella Stevens is memorable even in a fairly understated performance. And the parrot does a good job too -- playing a parrot. I believe the sub-themes spinning around the way the Stevens character immediately goes for the "bad boy" in Buddy Love do have implications for the culture of the day, but the film is oh so much more than that. It is about the difference between who you are, and who you want to be. It is a must-see, a one of a kind. And as promised here is what may be the secret to Lewis' pitch-perfect performance. In an interview given years later by Lewis' son, the interviewer was told that Jerry did such a great job on Buddy because Jerry "was" buddy in real life. No acting required. Food for thought.
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Robert Louis Stevenson's story stripped bare.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
Jerry Lewis stars, directs, produces and co-writes (with Bill Richmond) this comedy take on Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Nutty Professor is a film I adored as a child, and truth be told most of Jerry Lewis' films made a humorous mark in my spotty youth, but not many can now be viewed in adulthood and still tickle the rib cage with the same mirthful impact. The Nutty Professor still does to me now what it first did many many years ago.

Reading some of the reviews around the internet you can see some people going a bit deeper than is really necessary, yes there are some interesting things to delve into if you so wish, (beauty skin deep, the meek rising, be yourself, social acceptance issues etc etc) but ultimately it's a comedy spin on the Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde story with Jerry Lewis in sublime pratfall mode.

Lewis' reading of the "good & bad" side of one man is basically he expressing he himself, and he has great fun with both sides of the character. There's some very funny sequences along the way, reference Kelp's attempt at bulking up at the gym and jitterbugging at the dance, and all things build to the climax where common sense prevails as the heart strings get tugged and the smile lands firmly on the face. Joining Lewis in the froth broth as the love interest is Stella Stevens, who is not only socko sexy and gorgeous - splendidly attired in Edith Head's figure hugging costumes - she also proves to be great foil for both of Lewis' characterisations.

Awash with Technicolor and comic vibrancy, The Nutty Professor is a classic case of comedic film making done with invention and a sheer willingness to entertain. 9/10
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Surprisingly good.
MartinHafer14 April 2014
Professor Julius Kelp (Lewis) is a kooky chemistry professor. He's extremely awkward, socially inept and a complete weakling. However, and this is important, he's a very nice and likable guy. However, Kelp is tired of being pushed around and he's also very lonely. Perhaps he can use his knowledge of chemistry to make himself into the man he wishes he could be. Unfortunately, like the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this new facade is a hit with the ladies and is sophisticated...but he's also a major jerk. What's to become of poor Dr. Kelp? And, who will the girl (Stella Stevens) love--the nerdy professor or the slick lady's man, Buddy Love (also Lewis)?

I had a rare privilege because I got to see this film on a big screen at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. And, the audience was crammed full of die-hard Jerry Lewis fans who laughed uproariously throughout the screening. Plus, Lewis made an appearance and talked at length about the film, life and much more--and was marvelously animated and youthful for a man of 88!

I would have to say that although I don't think I thought this film was the masterpiece many have proclaimed it to be (I do think Lewis made some better films), it is extremely enjoyable and a few of the gags were hilarious (particularly in the gymnasium). I also appreciate how the film has heart--a nice message and greater depth than the usual comedy. One of Lewis' best films, certainly, and one that has exceptionally good timing and subtlety--something you just don't see in a lot of his comedies.
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Better Living Through Chemistry
bkoganbing12 March 2013
In The Nutty Professor Jerry Lewis created one of his most endearing characters and the only one that another comic also adopted. Eddie Murphy who changed the last name from Kelp to Klump did not do an imitation of Lewis. He created his own milquetoast professor who starts experimenting with life altering potions. In fact Murphy created a whole family of characters for his two films.

Jerry did not have the computer graphics available to Murphy, but his Julius Kelp who morphs into Buddy Love does quite all right with just Paramount's makeup wizardry and his own talent. When you think about it Jerry has joined some pretty distinguished company with John Barrymore, Fredric March, Spencer Tracy, and Boris Karloff all who played Dr. Jekyll on the big screen.

Those guys weren't playing it for laughs though, Lewis did see the possibilities of humor in this deadly serious story. He also mined a lot of pathos from both Julius Kelp and Buddy Love.

It's a simple story, Jerry is the world's ultimate nerd in Professor Julius Kelp who gets bullied by all. After a bad session with the college football players he decides that Dupont had the right idea, better living through chemistry. He does his Jekyll thing and from the ultimate nerd, Lewis becomes a candidate for lounge lizard of the century, a man auditioning for admittance to Sinatra's rat pack.

One thing I have to say, that college seem to be caught in time warp. In 1963 kids were no longer listening to Les Brown and his Band of Renown. Yet that is their musical entertainment for the spring prom. Personally I think it would have registered better if say The Beach Boys would have been the entertainment, far more contemporary for 1963. But that would not have allowed Jerry a little chance to spoof the Rat Pack and his old partner Dean Martin.

Jerry's Professor Kelp is someone you really care about and that's the secret of The Nutty Professor's enduring popularity.
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who is buddy love?
bobby cormier26 June 2005
over the decades there has been a huge amount of conjecture about just who the buddy love character is meant to be skewering. the conventional wisdom has been that it is either a scathing indictment of Jerry's former partner Dean Martin or else that it is meant to be a very unflattering commentary on Frank Sinatra. i think that there MAY be elements of truth in both of those analyses. after all, an artist (& especially a writer) sketches characters from an amalgam of several people he or she has known or at least met, most of the time. but i think that this character is meant to be a "scathing indictment" on Lewis himself. he himself admitted as much in his autobiography. now, i'm not apt to blindly believe everything Lewis says or writes about himself, but i think this is a VERY plausible explanation. over the years, many of you may have noticed just how grating Lewis can be in his private/public life. like when he appears "as himself" on TV talk shows or gives interviews or quotes about himself to the press. one of these things that particularly comes to mind for me was a quote that was printed (& reprinted & reprinted & reprinted) many years ago. he was asked why he thought so much of the American public seemed to dislike him & his reply was something like, "because i'm a successful, internationally famous, multifaceted, multi-talented genius." i'm paraphrasing there because i don't have the EXACT quote on hand. but i sure remember it pretty well, as do a lot of other people. this quote, of course, only added a lot of fuel-to-the-fire for people who already disliked him a great deal. if Lewis can be believed about the buddy love character being based on the darker aspects of himself that he saw IN HIMSELF, then Lewis is not MERELY an ego-driven, megalomaniacal, narcissist (although a very talented one) but is also a real person sensitive enough to take a hard look at his own shortcomings as a human being & is brave enough to put that all up there on the big screen for anyone to see. -bobby cormier
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An outstanding movie!
Dave11367 July 1999
The Nutty Professor(1963) is the best movie Jerry Lewis ever made or will make. The supporting cast which features some of Jerry's regulars(Del Moore, Kathleen Freeman, and Buddy lester) add to this delightful, zany, and comical remake of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. The wide-eyed, sweet, innocent Stella Stevens as Stella Purdie and the haunting background music of Stella by Starlight makes this an outstanding film!
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Jerry Lewis delivers a hilarious performance, but heartwrenching and sometimes even dull scenes take away from what is nonetheless a classic comedy.
Michael DeZubiria23 August 2000
The Nutty Professor may star a man who is often difficult to endure and who sometimes makes a little too much of an effort to be funny (efforts which often induce embarrassed and uncertain laughter), but the character that Jerry Lewis created in The Nutty Professor is something to be admired. His transformation from the geeky Professor Julius Kelp to the overly confident Buddy Love is perfectly acted. A particularly memorable scene (especially as far as directing and editing) was the scene when Buddy Love transforms back into Professor Kelp toward the end of the film. Very well done and very entertaining.

However, the comedic intensity of the film is diluted by the almost painfully heartwrenching speech given by Professor Kelp at the end of the film, as well as a crudely delivered message. I've never been too fond of films that slap their message (or significant parts of the plot, as with the latest Bond film, The World Is Not Enough) awkwardly in the dialogue. It gives the feeling that the makers of the film didn't have enough confidence in the clarity of the story, or they simply wanted to take the easy way out. My point is that I don't think that the speech at the end was necessary in its present form, if even at all. The audience should be left to at least derive some part of the film's message on their own.

As a whole, The Nutty Professor is a very good film. It is entertaining, and at some points, hilarious. There have been countless imitations of this film, including a couple of respectable remakes with Eddie Murphy, and even a character on The Simpsons (Professor John Frink) that is based on Lewis' character in this film. There are a few slow parts that seem to drag on and become boring that take away from the sheer hilarity of the movie, but it is still a timeless comedy that could be enjoyed by virtually everyone.
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Jerry Lewis's Most Successful Comedy.
Robert J. Maxwell23 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I can't help it. I find many parts of this movie hilarious. I know, I know. I keep telling myself, "Self, this is JERRY LEWIS -- and you're not French," but it does no good. It's a funny movie.

The first half is especially good. Lewis, who co-wrote the movie and directed it, is Professor Julius Kelp, a chemist who is a hopeless nerd with buck teeth, a squeaky, nasal voice, and a straggly Beatles haircut avant la lettre. Lewis has a crush on one of his students. Understandably. This is Stella Stevens at her succulent best. He's much too shy to express his feelings towards her, and she in return is kindly, but that's all. Stalemate.

Then Lewis concocts a potion in the manner of Dr. Jeykll and finds himself turned into Mr. Hyde, a new persona that takes the form of "Buddy Love." The love character is identifiably Professor Kelp if you know the story. Otherwise Love is a strangely magnetic, narcissistic playboy. "Hey, Sweetie, take off and get your lips pressed," he tells the lounge singer at the Purple Pit, a local student hangout, before he wows the crowd by playing and singing a jazzy version of "That Old Black Magic." (For the cognoscenti, that's Shelly Manne on drums and Red Mitchell on bass.) He singles out Stevens for his attentions and she's attracted to his self-confidence and talent but repelled by his love of self. "You deserve nothing but the best, baby, and I'm the best." The entire business leaves her confused.

Lewis switches effectively back and forth a few times until the switches take on a life of their own, as in Stevenson's original story, and finally he loses Buddy Love altogether and turns into Professor Kelp while trying to perform at the Student Prom. His apology to the students and faculty could have come straight out of Dr. Phil or some Televangelist. "If you don't like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to like you? That's what I learned." No sense going on too long about the film but it's worth a brief comparison to Eddy Murphy's remake. Lewis's film is the more difficult of the two to pull off. For one thing, in 1963 the technology was limited. There were no effective fat suits and no CGIs. For another, Lewis's Professor Kelp's deficits are harder to define. He's shy, nervous, homely, and an egghead. His scenes at the gym, trying to build his muscles, are outrageous. Murphy's film, by contrast, is equally funny but easier to build gags around. Murphy's Kelp is statistically deviant chiefly because he's terribly fat. And it's easier to make fun of, and build gags around, people who are obese. Murphy's film suffers from gigantism and Lewis's seems constrained by comparison. That's not in any way to criticize Murphy's acting. He makes the character touching in a way that Lewis doesn't. But Murphy invites a dislike of Kelp, willy nilly. Nobody wants a fat person for a seat mate on the plane. And while the comedy in both movies is very broad indeed, Murphy's is REALLY broad! I never thought I'd find myself saying that a Jerry Lewis movie was tasteful, but next to Murphy's it is precisely that.

In any case, this is enjoyable and the whole family will probably find it amusing. I mean, it's not challenging in any way, not thought provoking. But it is a successful comedy and should be applauded for being funny without hitting the audience over the head with a loud and raunchy crowbar.
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If Not the Movie, Jerry's Kelp is a Classic
ragosaal18 October 2006
I've seen most of Jerry Lewis's movies (with and without Dean Martin) and this one is the best one for me.

The picture is funny (some sort of comic Jekill and Hyde plot) with many hilarious moments (the gymnasium sequence, his first meeting with the school's Director and the second one as Buddy Love too, Jerry as a baby). But what I think is a real creation is Julius Kelp character, both psychically and mentally. The point is that the man is a complete jerk but at the same time he's a genius in his field.

As Professr Kelp Jerry Lewis is funny just to look at him and as Buddy Love some dialogues are excellent (the guy is madly in love with himself). The supporting cast is most adequate specially Del Moore as Buddy Love's main victim.

A most entertaining and funny movie - with a "message" included-clearly superior to Eddie Murphy's recent remake (even with its technology handicap). Once more the original is better than the copy.
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A Most Entertaining Movie
ceveritt9 June 2004
I love watching the Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis as the star. Whenever it comes on TV I don't care what else is on I always watch it. As my kids were growing up they joined me in laughing as we watched.

This is a great family movie that everyone should watch with his or her loved ones. If you haven't seen it yet you are really missing something. I am sure it will always be my personal favorite.

I just wish Mr. Lewis made a Nutty Professor II.

I saw the re-make it was entertaining but it couldn't beat the original. I think anything Mr. Lewis is in will be a smash. I just wish we could see more of him here on Canadian TV.

It's too bad we don't have more actors like Mr. Lewis.
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Mind-numbingly awful!
jan-60326 July 2007
If your life is going by too fast, rent this film - you'll think time has come to a stop! Nearly every scene seems to last forever. I can't believe we watched the whole thing, so beware - you'll either fall asleep like I did, or go so numb that you can't pick up the remote to turn this mess off. Lewis is a terrible actor and an even worse director. What are the French thinking?

Take my word for it - just about any other film would be a better choice, but here are some suggestions for way better comedies: Groundhog Day, The Dish, The Castle, It Happened One Night, The Girl in the Cafe, Dave, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle.
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Brilliant. And not Dean Martin.
blissfilm23 November 2008
I think Buddy Love is clearly a parody of Sinatra, "the Leader", the "swinger of swingers" - and perhaps a personal comment at the time on those whom Lewis' once-beloved partner now kept company with.

When I saw this movie as a child (when it first came out) I just thought it was rather silly. Now as an adult, I think it's more brilliant every time I see it. There is nothing on screen that I know of that's like Lewis' portrayal here. I've begun to agree with the French. It's genius - and this film is adult entertainment. We're tremendously lucky for the creative, brilliant energy that was put into a "kid's film."
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