Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jerry Lewis - The Ladies Man (1961)

The Ladies Man may not be Jerry Lewis' best film, as The Nutty Professor and a few others probably are more appropriate for that honor, but it certainly has its adherents, and with good reason. For one thing, Lewis is a bit more restrained than in some of his other films, although still far from what one would call subtle. For another, Ladies has a nicely surreal touch to it, with several moments that are more strange than funny, but are all the more pleasing for that reason. (The "femme fatale" sequence, with its black main figure, all white décor and Harry James accompaniment is bizarre and totally fascinating.) Perhaps most in its favor, Ladies clearly demonstrates that whatever his weaknesses as a director, Lewis certainly knew how to use a camera in intriguing, inventive and often surprising ways. The long sequence which introduces the mammoth and truly fabulous main mansion set is technically brilliant, displaying an assurance and skill with the camera that is impossible to deny. Lewis here, as in many of his other films, evinces a sharp eye for color and how to use it for maximum effect. True, the screenplay that all this skill is in the service of is no world beater, and its surreal sequences are sometimes ill matched with its more traditional story elements, especially the sappy and unconvincing ending. And as usual, Lewis doesn't always know when he has gone too far. Still, Ladies' strengths are such that even those who don't typically like Lewis should give it a shot. Ladies Man (Lewis, 1961).avi