13 user 7 critic

Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968)

G | | Comedy | 12 July 1968 (USA)
2:36 | Trailer
An American plans to bilk the British out of some considerable money with the help of an English con artist.


Jerry Paris


Max Wilk (screenplay), Max Wilk (novel)



Learn more

More Like This 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Man (Lewis) is told by his doctor (Lawford), and best friend, that he has a terminal illness. At his wife's urging, he lives life to the fullest, racking up insurmountable debts. When the ... See full summary »

Director: George Marshall
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Peter Lawford, Anne Francis
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An artist has an opportunity to go to Paris and wants to bring his fiancee along. However, she's a psychiatrist who currently has three female patients who don't like men. So, he guises ... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, Mary Ann Mobley
The Big Mouth (1967)
Comedy | Action | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

While fishing on a San Diego beach, Gerald Clamson catches ... a sea diver! Even more weird, the "fish" resembles him. The man, who is not (yet) dead, reveals his secret to the peaceful ... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Harold J. Stone, Susan Bay Nimoy
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.5/10 X  

Brendan Byers III is a wealthy playboy who wants to serve his country as a soldier, but he has been classified as 4-F (Registrant not acceptable for military service). He recruits ... See full summary »

Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Jan Murray, John Wood
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Norman Phiffier works as a store clerk in a large department store. Clumsy and inept, he can't do anything right. Boy are they in trouble!

Director: Frank Tashlin
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Jill St. John, Ray Walston
Comedy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

In a futuristic world, the USA decides to send a married couple of astronauts to its moon base in order to prevent any improper contact with the Soviet female cosmonauts manning the USSR moon base.

Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Connie Stevens, Robert Morley
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Gilbert Wooley is a second-rate magician who is sent to entertain the troops in the pacific. During his time in Japan he becomes attached to a little orphan boy.

Director: Frank Tashlin
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Marie McDonald, Sessue Hayakawa
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Lester is a clumsy and awkward TV repair man who is nevertheless gifted technically. In helping out a friend, he is drawn into a mystery involving a missing heir in a rich family. He begins... See full summary »

Director: Frank Tashlin
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Joan O'Brien, Zachary Scott
Comedy | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

The weirdest alien of the galaxy pays a visit to Earth...

Director: Norman Taurog
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A young heiress must choose between six uncles, one of which is up to no good and out to harm the girl's beloved bodyguard who practically raised her.

Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Sebastian Cabot, Neil Hamilton
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Handsome top-secret American agent Matt Helm must recover a laser-weapons inventor who has been kidnapped by arch-villain Julian Wall.

Director: Henry Levin
Stars: Dean Martin, Ann-Margret, Karl Malden
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Sidney Pythias is a bumbling janitor picked up by cop Mike Damon as a teenage gang member worth saving from delinquency. With Damon's help, Sidney works his way through the Police Academy to become a cop too.

Director: Don McGuire
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Martha Hyer, Darren McGavin


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jerry Lewis ... George Lester
Terry-Thomas ... H. William Homer
Jacqueline Pearce ... Pamela Lester
Bernard Cribbins ... Fred Davies
Patricia Routledge ... Lucille Beatty
Nicholas Parsons ... Dudley Heath
Michael Bates ... Dr. Spink
Colin Gordon ... Mr. Hartford
John Bluthal ... Dr. Pinto
Sandra Caron Sandra Caron ... Pinto's Nurse
Margaret Nolan ... Spink's Nurse
Harold Goodwin ... Six-Eyes Wiener
Nike Arrighi ... Portuguese Waitress
John Barrard ... Zebra Man
Pippa Benedict Pippa Benedict ... Fern Averback


George Lester is a man who is chasing rainbows, looking for the pot of gold at the end. When his wife, Pamela grows tired of being dragged all over the world, she leaves him. While she is away, George converts her family home into a discotheque, when she returns, she threatens to send George to jail for fraud, cause she didn't give her approval. George needing some fast bucks, decides to turn to an old cohort of his, William Homer but Willy's a little short. George then decides to steal the plans to a new drill, Pamela's suitor, Dudley Heath is working on. But when George gets the mumps, he can't make it to the meeting place and refuses to give Willy the plans unless he gives him the cash first. And the buyers won't give unless they see the merchandise first. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Jerry's in London - trying to make an easy million the hard way!




G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 July 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Spinner See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Pippa Benedict is dubbed. See more »


References Alfie (1966) See more »


Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River
Music by David Whitaker
Lyrics by Hal Shaper
Sung by Danny Street
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The best thing since moldy sliced bread
21 May 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

I'm well known--well, or at least I'd like to be well known--for arguing that it's a mistake to identify genres with emotional reactions in viewers. For example, I think it's wrong to conflate "horror" and "scary movie", where "scary" is intended to describe the emotional reaction the film is supposed to cause in the viewer. "Horror" instead should describe the content of the film and (maybe) the way that content is handled. Likewise with comedy, although the identification of modern comedies and laughter is probably the most difficult case to disentangle. (If we use the traditional sense of "comedy", the disentangling is much easier.)

I bring all of this up not to bore you, or even to flabbergast you with how pretentious, pompous, or pseudo-intellectual I sound (or whatever other epithet you'd like to apply). I bring it up merely to say that the problems I had with Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River aren't solely based on it being a largely unfunny comedy--which it is. There are unfunny comedies that can be good films. Just like horror films need not be scary to be good, comedies need not be funny, or need not primarily aim for that. But Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River has a host of other problems that make it not succeed above a "D" level, or a 6.

It's difficult, at least this far removed in time, to say what exactly director Jerry Paris was shooting for here. The film is about George Lester (Jerry Lewis). The beginning has a quickly progressing sequence where we see George go from being a kid to meeting his wife and already having problems with her as he takes her on extreme business trips (often in hostile environments) across the globe. This all happens in maybe four or five minutes. The common theme throughout these all-too-quick scenes, and the gist of the film, is that George is a cross between a misguided dreamer/entrepreneur and a con-man/shyster.

Unfortunately, this opening sequence was maybe the best thing about Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River. There was a good story in following George as he grew up, met his wife and went on crazy business trips. Much of the opening is funny. This material should have been stretched into feature length.

But instead, Paris and writer Max Wilk, adapting his own novel for the screenplay, give us a very convoluted story set while George and his wife, Pamela (Jacqueline Pearce), are getting divorced. The film ends up being about a confused scheme to bilk some oil sheiks out of £50,000 and at the same time, get George's wife back into his arms. The premise isn't bad, but the script and the direction are a mess.

It doesn't help that Paris seems like he tried to reel Lewis in a bit--or maybe Lewis was trying to appear relatively more serious and sophisticated. Whatever the cause, the result is that Lewis is a bit boring and uncharismatic, and when he tries to do more manic comic bits, they tend to fall flat. Constructing the plot so that Lewis is stuck at home, mostly not interacting with others, wasn't a great idea either. It's like a literal representation of "phoning in" a performance. At the same time, it's clear that Paris was often going for a "madcap comedy", but he achieves neither a convincing "madcap" feeling nor many laughs.

Pearce's performance is decent, but she seems to be in the wrong film. Her tone doesn't match anyone else's. There are also two very good supporting actors, Terry-Thomas, as fellow shyster H. William Homer, and Patricia Routledge, as Lucille Beatty. Both do the best job they can given the script and direction problems, but neither quite manage to take off--either they just can't muster the momentum to take over as they need to, or they weren't allowed to.

It's not that the film is a complete disaster. There are occasional sections that work, such as the beginning, mentioned above. There are also occasional sections that are funny, such as the idea of turning the house into a restaurant/disco, and the scenes featuring Fed Davies (Bernard Cribbins) in his second job (although the fact that he had two jobs wasn't explained very well). More often, there are scenes that might make you smile. But overall, the film is quite a trainwreck, because of the bad story/script and direction, despite the fact that the ending is satisfying, and the actors keep doing their best to surmount the difficulties.

Also on the positive side, the cinematography is crisp ad colorful if not particularly innovative, and the sets/locations are occasionally attractive. But this is not nearly enough to recommend the film.

I don't think I've seen any of Paris' other films yet, although I've seen a lot of his television work, which was often quite funny--he's directed episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961), "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970), and "The Odd Couple" (1970), for instance--all excellent shows. Maybe his talent was more suited for filling in 22 minutes of a comedy template than the more free-form structure of a feature film.

7 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 13 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Recently Viewed