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The Bellboy

USA 1960. Director: Jerry Lewis
Cast: Jerry Lewis, Alex Gerry, Bob Clayton, Sonny Sands, Eddie Shaeffer

Set in and around the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Jerry Lewis’s giddy, gag-filled first film as director (he also produced, wrote, and starred) is “Lewis’s purest and most formally inventive feature, and probably his most experimental work” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). “Walking too many dogs? Carrying too many suitcases? Too many phones a-ringin’? Well, join the club! The Bellboy was miraculously conceived, written, shot, and released in just six months as part of a promise to Paramount to deliver a summer film ... With no actual story, no real plot, a main character that utters only one line of dialogue, and a baggage cart full of highly surreal jokes, The Bellboy remains Lewis’ most experimental endeavour, and one of his most endearing to boot. A true testament to Lewis’s love of the great silent clowns (Stan Laurel in particular), the Miami hotels he played in his youth, and every schlub who could never get a word in edgewise (not even a ‘Hey, laaaady!’), The Bellboy is an eruption of cinematic talent that proved Lewis wasn’t just a comedian, but a total filmmaker” (The Cinefamily, Los Angeles). B&W, 35mm. 72 mins.

Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive