Monday, September 1, 2014

Arthouse filmmakers reflect on Jerry Lewis

To commemorate Labor Day, I offer up a montage I featured on the episode of the Funhouse TV show that aired this weekend. For the past 21 years I have done a Jerry Lewis episode for Labor Day weekend and, since the end of the telethon, I've been looking for new angles from which to approach Jerry (there are about twenty jokes that could follow that sentence, but I'm not going for any of 'em).

Since I frequently feature “arthouse” cinema on the Funhouse, it was only natural to edit together a montage of scenes in which arthouse auteurs (not all of whom are French, mind you) either talked about Jerry in interviews or evoked him in their films. I came up with seven instances that I think make a very entertaining montage, while also exploring Jerry from pro, con, and “wtf?” aspects.

The contents are (since I don't intend on posting the list on YT; the sequences are already titled in the video):

– Martin Scorsese in Bonjour Monsieur Lewis, 1985
– a scene from Jacques Rivette's “missing” (at least in the U.S.) L'Amour Fou, 1969
– Louis Malle in Bonjour Monsieur Lewis, 1985
– a scene from Luc Moullet's Brigitte et Brigitte, 1966
– Orson Welles on The Dick Cavett Show, 1970
– a scene from Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year with Thirteen Moons, 1978
– Jean-Luc Godard on The Dick Cavett Show, 1980

For those others keeping score, there are a few other filmmakers featured in Bonjour Monsieur Lewis (Bogdanovich, Mel Brooks, Spielberg) whom I didn't include for purposes of time and/or salience of the discussion.

Those who loathe Jerry will particularly enjoy Welles' remarks. Those who love him will dig Malle's unmitigated praise. For those who want an insightful discussion, we always turn to Uncle Jean, who says about le cinema du Jer: “I think it's very funny – even when it's not funny, it's more funny....”

JLG knows the score.

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