A gender-swapped retelling of Charles Perrault's classic, where Cinderfella is visited by a fairy godfather to help him escape from his wicked stepmother and stepbrothers.A gender-swapped retelling of Charles Perrault's classic, where Cinderfella is visited by a fairy godfather to help him escape from his wicked stepmother and stepbrothers.A gender-swapped retelling of Charles Perrault's classic, where Cinderfella is visited by a fairy godfather to help him escape from his wicked stepmother and stepbrothers.
Fairy Tale Gender Bender!
"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!
- Aug 16, 2005
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