The Delicate Delinquent (1957) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
17 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
This movie influenced me as a boy leading to a police career
crazy-1229 November 1999
I first saw this movie at the theater in 1957. I was 13 and was captivated at the transformation of Sidney(Jerry Lewis). I watched as he went from a goofy, skinny kid(like I was then)to a mature, respected policeman. I never forgot this film and developed an interest in law enforcement. I have been retired for 8 years after a career with the PA State Police. The movie was more than entertainment to me.
21 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Proves Jerry Lewis's Genius
dr_shred4 February 2005
My wife hates Jerry Lewis. The French love him. Why the divergence?

In the late 40's and 50's Martin and Lewis were the most popular comedy act of their era. Watching some of their early stand-up routines one can't help marvel at Lewis's precocity and Martin's understated comic acumen. People who really know about Dean know what an underrated genius he was, but in this movie, Lewis's wide range of talents - mimicry, improvisation, foolery, jest - erupt with no comic-duo distractions. It's his tour de force.

Darrin McGavin turns in a great performance as Damon to Lewis's Pythias. The stunning Martha Hyer is great as the uppity goody two-shoes who falls for McGavin. Don't forget the uncredited cameo by Frank Gorshin. Robert Ivers, Horace McMahon, Richard Bakalyan, Milton Frome, et al, complete a great cast in one of the best comic movies ever.
14 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Delicate Delinquent (1957)
morrigan19825 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You just got to love Jerry Lewis. He is so amazing and talented. In this movie he plays the janitor Sidney Pythias, who manages to get himself always into trouble. Mike Damon a police officer sets his mind into helping him do something with his life, as someone did for him in the past. The role of the police officer is played by Darren McGavin and you can also see Frank Gorshin in a small part! So Jerry Lewis decides that he wants to become a police officer like Mike who is respected by the good citizens and make himself someone important. So the training starts with his officer friend helping him to get ready for his tests. Soon though he comes face to face with his past and the new troubles it will create! As always Jerry is great and this film is a lot of fun.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What are you? And, what you wanna be?
Spikeopath2 July 2010
Sydney L. Pythias (Jerry Lewis), more juvenile than delinquent, is a janitor mistaken for a gang member whilst emptying out the garbage. Kindly police officer Mike Damon (Darren McGavin) tries to straighten him out by putting him through police training.

The role of Damon was earmarked for regular Lewis partner Dean Martin, but Martin allegedly refused to play a copper and the role was given to McGavin. Thus the film became notable for being the first solo film for Lewis away from his regular partner. They never worked together again. Written and directed by Don McGuire who works from a script based upon the Greek mythology legend of Damon and Pythias, the film also stars Martha Hyer, Robert Ivers and features a rare dramatic turn from comedian/impressionist Frank Gorshin. After the tremendous success of the Martin/Lewis partnership the big question of course would be if Lewis as a solo performer would be a big draw? The Delicate Delenquent was a massive success, made for under half a million dollars it went on to make almost $6 million. Thus launching Lewis on a lucrative solo career encompassing many more film's in the decades to come.

Very much a send up of teen rebel movies that were knocking about in the 50s {delinquency amongst teens was becoming a hot topic in the decade}, Lewis' movie is gentle blend of comedy and drama. Tho he doles out some of the gurning buffoon antics that were his comedy trait, Lewis does get to play it more restrained for much of the piece, and it works, none more so than with the warm and uplifting finale. With that in mind, newcomers to the movie should not expect a raucous Jerry Lewis piece. The comedy is good, with some scenes during the police academy training portion of the film, particularly enjoyable. While Jerry sings "By Myself," in cheeky recognition of his split-up with Dino. The romantic interest in the film comes via the beautiful Martha Hyer, who married Hal Wallis in 1966, the producer of the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis films. And tho it's not a fully formed character, there's just enough material to let Hyer leave a favourable mark.

A long way from Lewis' best solo film {The Nutty Professor} but engaging enough on both its comedy and dramatic fronts. 6.5/10
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
First Movie Without Dean Martin
rosco194718 April 2008
At age 10, I kept my fingers crossed en route to see this movie. I loved both Martin and Lewis, was shocked at their breakup and truly wished them both happiness and success.

The movie did not disappoint me and I sensed that Jerry would be OK. Jerry's next movie, " Sad Sack " was much funnier; I thought - although I do remember having a huge poster of Liliane Montevecchi hanging in my bedroom for at least two years after seeing the movie - and perhaps "that" had something to do with my preference LOL.

The rest is history of course. For those in my age bracket, I also think it is worthwhile to mention how many times Jerry Lewis chose Kathleen Freeman to co-star in his movies. She was, of course, one of the two actresses to portray the maid in the 1953 TV series " Topper " which starred Leo G Carroll.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry Lewis shines in both comedy and drama in his first solo film-The Delicate Delinquent
tavm31 August 2011
Just watched this, Jerry Lewis' first movie without Dean Martin, on YouTube. Meant to partially be a spoof of the "delinquent" films of the time, Jer does quite well in mixing his usual goofy persona with that of a more serious learner when he gets mentored by a friendly cop named Mike Damon (Darren McGavin). In fact, this was originally supposed to be Dean's role but either he balked at actually playing an authority figure or he simply just had enough of his former partner's ego to continue on with him. Anyway, whenever McGavin has fights with a female council member named Martha Henshaw (Martha Hyer) there's still some traces of the Martin-like attitude especially when he reveals to Sidney (Lewis' character) his feelings for her. Officer Mike not only has to deal with the punks that hang around Sidney like Monk (Robert Ivers) and Artie (Richard Bakalyan) but also his superior officer, Capt. Riley (Horace McMahon) who has plenty of doubts about Mike's methods. Like I said, this was a good mix of comedy and drama and also, Jerry has a nice number by himself in which he drops his usual whiny voice for his more normal one (which he also does in the more serious scenes). So on that note, I highly recommend The Delicate Delinquent.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry without Dino
Petey-1027 June 2000
Jerry Lewis plays a janitor called Sidney Pythias, who is hanging up with wrong kind of people.With the help of a cop called Mike Damon (Darren McGavin) he goes to the police academy to become a policeman.Delicate Delinquent from 1957 is Jerry's

first movie without Dean Martin, but he does nice job as solo. This isn't Lewis' greatest works, but it offers some great moments.Watch the movie if you want to be a cop or if you just like Jerry Lewis.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fine comedy-drama hits the mark
nvasapper9 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In his first solo run without Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis is wonderful as a bumbling janitor in a tenement building who decides to make something out of himself by becoming a police officer. He finds himself walking a fine line between his friendship with Officer Mike Damon(DARREN McGAVIN), who has taken a personal interest in him and believes in him, and the local gang of neighborhood delinquents headed by Monk(ROBERT IVERS) and his sidekick Artie(RICHARD BAKALYAN). Lewis' exposure to the police academy provides most of the film's humor as he fumbles and stumbles his way through his coursework. The funniest sequence here is when the recruits are given a class in hand-to-hand combat by a Japanese sumo wrestler, who picks Lewis to demonstrate the techniques on. The interpreter tells Lewis he was picked because the wrestler says he looks Japanese! After getting karate-chopped numerous times and twisted into a pretzel, Lewis pleads with the martial artist to let him live- in Japanese! This is what makes the sequence so hilarious- that Lewis would be able to speak Japanese, considering who he was and where he was living. It's a riot to watch these two men walk off the mat with their arms around each other, conversing fluently in Japanese. In one critical scene, Monk and Artie pay a visit to Lewis in his basement apartment. These guys are poster boys for Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Monk tells Lewis that before he leaves this world, he going to make a lot of noise. Lewis tells him that there are lots of good, decent people in the world who are not looking to break anyone's back and that he wants to be one of them. When they leave, Artie asks Monk why he didn't let him rough Lewis up and Monk, clearly affected by what Lewis told him, says "I got confused... He made sense." As part of their final evaluation before being graduated from the academy, the rookie cops are paired with veteran officers to go out on armed street patrol and Lewis gets paired up with his buddy Mike. Called to a burglary in progress, the two buddies and other officers confront Monk and his gang and a free-for-all ensues. A gunshot rings out and Artie falls to the ground, a bullet in his leg. The discharge is quickly traced to Lewis' revolver and Artie accuses him of deliberately shooting him. It looks like Lewis' police career might be over before it even starts, but someone from an unlikely corner comes forward to speak up for him and tell the Precinct Captain(HORACE McMAHON) what really occurred. Someone who had firsthand knowledge of what happened with Lewis's gun and how Artie wound up getting shot. Someone who vindicates Lewis and himself. This is a wonderful film that still holds up 50 years later. I give it a 10 out of 10.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
McGavin mentors Lewis
bkoganbing14 March 2013
In his first solo effort without partner Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis did a combination West Side Story and a police academy movie in The Delicate Delinquent. West Side Story was running on Broadway and its popularity and Jerry's would have guaranteed a built in audience.

Darren McGavin takes over from Dino and you can almost spot the places songs would have been dropped in. Lewis plays a bumbling young kid who gets accidentally in the middle of a gang rumble between the local Jets and Sharks and is caught in a police dragnet.

Personally I'm not sure how anyone could have mistaken Lewis for a juvenile delinquent, but McGavin is in charge of a mentoring program and he picks Lewis as his prototype test case. And monitoring the mentor is Martha Hyer who is from the City Council.

Jerry has surprisingly little in the way of raucous comedy routines and concentrates on developing his character. The film proceeds at a leisurely pace in telling the story.

Robert Ivers who plays one of Jerry's juvenile delinquent friends has a nice part himself. In the end he actually saves Lewis's career as a budding policeman.

The Delicate Delinquent was a nice solo debut for Lewis. He did much better for himself and Paramount Pictures than his old partner did with Ten Thousand Bedrooms.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
roam the streets
lee_eisenberg21 September 2011
Jerry Lewis's first movie without Dean Martin casts him as a juvenile delinquent hired by a cop (Darren McGavin) to become a cop. "The Delicate Delinquent" is the typical sort of movie that Lewis was making around that time. It's mostly an excuse for him to act silly, sometimes via facial expressions. There's nothing special about the movie, although it does provide a few laughs. Without a doubt, Lewis reached his apex with "The Nutty Professor".

Martha Hyer (who later got married to Lewis's producer Hal Wallis) provides a foil for both Lewis and McGavin. Watch for a young Frank Gorshin (best known as the Riddler on the 1960s "Batman" series) as a gang member.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Better than most of the Martin & Lewis films...
MartinHafer3 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What's this with the trivia section on IMDb for this film? While I knew that this was Jerry Lewis' first solo effort after his breakup with Dean Martin, I have no idea what this comment in the trivia section means regarding Dean Martin not wanting to wear a police uniform. Did he hate cops or think he looked bad in black or was this just the excuse he gave because he couldn't stand the thought of making another film with Jerry?! I'd love to know more about this.

With the absence of Dean Martin, the studio decided to pair Lewis with Darren McGavin. And, since you've never heard of the great comedy team of Martin & McGavin, you can assume the results did not set the world on fire. The choice of films was pretty odd, though, as Jerry was now in his 30s--making him an incredibly old delinquent! And, for the first time, this delinquent got to produce his own film.

During an amazingly non-violent rumble, Jerry is accidentally picked up by the police as they think he, too, is one of the punks. The team of cops is led by McGavin--a cop who has been trying for years to rehabilitate these juveniles instead of just locking them up like the Captain recommends. In a rather non-subtle but funny scene, Jerry is thrilled that he is being let go by the just have to see it. But McGavin sees Jerry and decides he can rehabilitate this boy! And, since Jerry is a completely incompetent janitor, McGavin is able to eventually interest him in a career in law enforcement. But the road is long and a lot of stuff happens in the meantime--such as constant run-ins with local hoodlums who delight in harassing him.

Along the way, McGavin meets a know-it-all social worker (Martha Hyer). Naturally, they hate each other so you know they'll be in love by the end of the film! Wow, is this lady stupid and annoying! I think her character was very poorly written--no one can be that that opinionated and that clueless! Aside from looking nice, she was a major deficit in the film--possibly due to bad acting or a badly written character or bad direction or all three.

So how does this all stack up compared to a typical Martin & Lewis film? Well, it's pretty obvious that the roles were originally written for the team but most of the musical numbers have been removed. While it caught my wife by surprise, Jerry sang one of the songs that Dean would have sung in the film--and did a very nice job. Too often in the early films, he deliberately sang badly and people assumed he couldn't sing. Jerry once again also mugged a lot more for the camera--though less than in many of his previous or later films. However, I also noticed that when he wasn't overacting, Lewis also had some nice scenes where you could see he could actually act--too bad he occasionally chose shtick instead of acting, as I think his acting skills are often under-appreciated (and which weren't as apparent until some of his later non-comedic roles). My wife, who is definitely not a fan, noticed that he was a lot more human in this film--and was very easy to like when he wasn't hamming it up. Surprisingly, she even liked the film--and she's a hard sell indeed. I'd say the film is actually better than most of the Martin & Lewis films, as it's a lot less comedy and more a well-rounded film.

By the way, there is a scene towards the beginning where McGavin tries very hard to befriend Lewis. I am sure it played well in 1957, but seen today, it sure looks like McGavin is trying to make a pass at him! You can see what what might be seen by some as a gay subtext a few other times, too. See it for yourself--I am sure you'll see what I mean.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More stupid Jerry
helpless_dancer21 July 2002
Once again Jerry stinks up the big screen with his hyperactive sthick. Here he offers the ultimate in corny jokes along with a 'hoods become angels with the right kindly influence' story. If you really like Jerry then you'll most likely go for this one, otherwise it will bore you senseless.
11 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry goes a simpering, sentimental tale with slapstick asides
moonspinner5527 September 2016
Apprentice maintenance worker is mentored by a good-hearted neighborhood cop who wants to get one kid from the streets on the right path in life. Writer-director Don McGuire apparently fashioned this comedy vehicle for the team of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, but when Martin dropped out (and ended the partnership), Lewis took center stage--and appeared very comfortable in doing so. Unfortunately, McGuire's script (which shows evidence of tampering) allows Lewis too much room to do his act: self-pitying pathos, dumb/smart retorts, goofy faces and voices. The plot doesn't make much sense, anyway: officer Darren McGavin apparently thinks Lewis is a member of a street gang--but Lewis has a job and his own apartment, and there are no scenes to show McGavin realizing his subject isn't a delinquent at all (he just goes right on helping him...into the police academy!). Slick and well-produced in black-and-white, the picture mixes in 'funny' scenes for the kids (Lewis helping an eccentric tenant with his experiments, being picked in a self-defense demonstration by a Sumo wrestler) and also adds convenient ladies for both Lewis and McGavin. The narrative is lumpy (it's just a bunch of episodes strung together), but McGavin is surprisingly paternal with Lewis, which eventually leads to a curiously sober conclusion, one that won't please fans hoping for another wild Jerry Lewis outing. ** from ****
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry Goes Solo!
bsmith555227 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"The Delicate Delinquent" was originally intended as Martin & Lewis' next project. But they split up. Martin was replaced by Darren McGavin who didn't sing (thank heavens) as Jerry Lewis struck out on his own for the first time.

Jerry plays Sidney Pythias a bumbling janitor of an apartment building. One day he accidently gets mixed up with a gang of delinquents including Monk (Robert Ivers),and Artie Richard Bakalyan) and they all get arrested. Officer Mike Damon (McGavin) has a desire to help delinquents turn their lives around. For this purpose he takes pity on Sidney. He sells his idea to his Captain (Horace McMahon) who reluctantly agrees. Sidney and the others are released and Mike begins to work with Sidney.

Into the picture comes lawyer Martha Henshaw (Martha Hyer) sent by city council to assess the delinquent situation. She and Mike don't hit it off. They quarrel and Sidney walks off accusing them of using him for their own selfish purposes. Mike meanwhile has become attracted to the attractive Martha but she walks away.

Mike goes to Sidney and agrees to help him enroll in the Police Academy with a view to becoming a respected police man. Unbelievably Sidney makes it through the first 12 weeks of the program. For the final week he is assigned to Mike to go on patrol in you guessed it, his own neighborhood. After an unbelievable delivering of a baby by Sidney, he and Mike are called to a heist in which Monk and the gang are involved. During the skuffle with police a shot is fired and Artie is wounded in the leg. Sidney's gun, which he had lost in the fight, is identified as the weapon that fired the shot.

Back at the station with Sidney about to be dropped from the police and charged, Monk steps up and ......................................................................

There's more dramatic scenes in this Lewis film than fans were used to but Jerry comes through and elicits a little pathos along the way. He has time for some comedic moments but they are not as madcap as we had become used to.

Others in the cast are Lewis regular Milton Frome as a crabby apartment resident, Mary Webster as Mary, Sidney's love interest, Jefferson Searles as Mr. Crow a crackpot inventor as well as familiar faces Frank Gorshin as a street punk, Emile Meyer, Don Megowan, and Emory Parnell as various cops and Dave Willock as the recruit with the good memory. Rocky Marciano was supposed to be in there somewhere but I missed him.

Jerry did OK in his first solo effort and would go on to a lengthy list of solo comedies. Dean Martin by the way, did OK too.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Looney Lewis in his first solo film.
kartoon-111 May 2017
Jerry proves in his first film outing after his infamous parting with his partner Dean Martin that his brand of comedy needs no specific straight man as the whole world is his straight man! Jerry plays a peripheral (read barely in) member of a gang who get into a rumble at his backdoor and he is subsequently arrested along with them. Seeing that he's different from the others, a sympathetic cop (Darren McGavin) takes him under his wing to guide him away from the other gang members and make an upstanding citizen of him. Which of course is a monumental task considering who he has as a charge. Speaking of which, you will get a 'charge' out of this movie.

(see my review on
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry's first solo gig
george.schmidt24 April 2003
THE DELICATE DELINQUENT (1957) ** Jerry Lewis, Darren McGavin. Rather weak Lewis flick with Jerry as a troubled kid who hooks up with the police force. Noteworthy only because this was his first solo outing after he split with Dean Martin.
3 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Jerry Lewis…"By Myself"
LeonLouisRicci26 July 2014
Jerry Lewis Stepped Rather Softly into His Solo Career after His Highly Publicized Split with Dean Martin. They were a Very Popular Musical-Comedy Team in the Movies and had Them Rolling in Isles at Swanky Nightclubs and on TV Variety Shows.

It wasn't a Congenial Breakup and Fans were Wondering just what would Become of the Two Entertainers. That's Ancient History now as Both Became Very Successful on Their Own. Rumours about Their (Non)Friendship were Fodder for the Tabloids and Gossip Columns for Years and there was Always Scuttlebutt about a Re-Uniting or at Least a Shaking of Hands.

This is a Very Mediocre Movie but Jerry's Talent is Evident. He was a Hard Worker and an Always Involved Innovator of the Craft. He Honed His Slapstick Schtick and Mugging that Peaked with The Nutty Professor (1963) and then went Downhill for Years making Anachronistic and Unfunny Movies just on His Ego Alone.

His Debut Solo Effort is not an Awful Film, it is just an Uneasy Combination of Comedy and Social Commentary that doesn't Quite Work. It has a Few Amusing Moments and is Highly Professional All Around but it doesn't Click. But it Made a Bundle of Money and Jerry was Off and Pratfalling His Way to Financial Success but Limited Critical Acclaim (except in France).
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed