Cover image for Inventing Jerry Lewis
Inventing Jerry Lewis
Krutnik, Frank, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 317 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Series statement from jacket.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2287.L435 K78 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Reviews 1

Choice Review

This exhaustive, sensitive study provides a clear analysis of a true pop-culture phenomenon, an ambivalent icon labeled by the critics a "populist giant." Krutnik (Roehampton Institute, UK) covers Lewis's 70 years as a performer, from before his 16-film partnership with Dean Martin to the slump after his period as "the total filmmaker." According to the author, Lewis's lows include his manic excesses in all performance arenas and his patronizing muscular dystrophy telethons, broadcasts that draw "complex and discomfiting resonances" from Lewis's "having founded his career on a bodily simulation of disability and disadvantage." Krutnik includes as highs the five features that Lewis wrote, directed, and starred in (1960-64) and his brilliant iconic performance in The King of Comedy. Krutnik also lists and analyzes film and TV appearances and song recordings. Respecting Lewis for the Nouvelle Vague spirit of The Bellboy (1960) and his intuitive surrealism, Krutnik contends that each Lewis film is a "cine-dissertation on the dilemma of being Jerry Lewis." Despite his flaws, Lewis was an important transitional figure who modernized the postwar entertainment tradition "to suit the mediascapes of postwar America." This thorough and balanced study meets the challenge posed by its fascinating subject. Recommended for performing arts and popular culture collections at all levels. M. Yacowar; University of Calgary