Tag Archives: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Nutty Professor

Directed by Jerry Lewis
Produced by Ernest D. Glucksman,  Arthur P. Schmidt & Jerry Lewis
Written by Robert Louis Stevenson (story)
Jerry Lewis & Bill Richmond (screenplay)
Starring Jerry Lewis
Stella Stevens
Del Moore
Kathleen Freeman
Music by Walter Scharf, Les Brown and His Band of Renown
Cinematography W. Wallace Kelley
Editing by John Woodcock
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date June 4, 1963
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Nutty Professor is Jerry Lewis’ masterpiece and undoubtedly his best known work. Many people think that the film and specifically the character of Buddy Love, is a stab at Dean Martin but Jerry has denied this vehemently. Instead he says that Buddy is a conglomeration of every nasty son of a bitch he’d ever met and that he loved Dino like a brother and would never do anything negative against him. Besides, Dean was a genuinely nice guy according to Jerry.

It is easy to forget just how brilliant that Jerry Lewis is. We take for granted the goofy, funny characters that he created as he made it all look so easy. He perhaps does not receive the acclaim that other screen comedians have received but he has always taken his comedy seriously. In fact this ambition to be a better comedian is the reason, partly, why he and Dean Martin broke up their successful partnership. Dino was happy just to turn up and for the two of them to do their thing whilst Jerry always wanted to do things better. Dean in fact apparently asked Jerry why he wanted to concentrate on that “Chaplin shit”, in that he thought that Jerry took his comedy a bit too seriously. That is not to say that Dean was not a professional, rather that he just wanted to turn up, do what was asked of him and then go home or to a party while Jerry wanted to be creative. This is the difference I suppose between an actor and a comedian.

One interesting scene is the transformation scene which takes its cues from the Frederic March version of Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, although Jerry said that he was inspired by the Spencer Tracy version.

One of the things that I found striking about watching The Nutty Professor is the bright, vibrant colours that were used. There is quite a liberal use of purples, greens, reds and other colours that you don’t usually see in films. It showcases the Technicolor film process effectively and is one reason why I prefer films that have been made in Technicolor as opposed to the now standard Eastmancolor.

The Professor Kelp character that Lewis created for his film is iconic and has been imitated by The SimpsonsProfessor Frink. Unlike Eddie Murphy in the 1996 remake Jerry didn’t just put on a fat suit to play Kelp. Apparently Kelp is based on a real person that Jerry met one day. That this one character has become so memorable, like Sellers’ Clouseau or Chaplin’s Tramp, despite featuring in just one film, is a testament to Lewis’ work here. It may be a little dated now, but it is a fine piece of 60s film making.

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Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Produced by Rouben Mamoulian
Written by Novel: Robert Louis Stevenson
Screenplay: Samuel Hoffenstein & Percy Heath
Starring Fredric March
Miriam Hopkins
Rose Hobart
Music by Herman Hand
Cinematography Karl Struss
Editing by William Shea
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) December 31, 1931
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English

This is for the 1931 version of the film, which was hidden away for a number of years from the 1940s after it was bought by MGM and buried so as to not over-shadow the 1941 Spencer Tracy version.

It is a pretty good 1930s horror film that was on par with the A-grade monster movies that Universal was making. This was made before the movie code came in, so the film’s plot heavily focuses on S.E.X., whether it be Dr. Jekyll wanting to get married to his fiance so that they can finally do it, or the overt sexuality of prostitute Ivy Pearson. Then there is also Mr. Hyde, who is a sex craved pervert of the lowest order.

There are a couple of other things to mention in relation to the film too. The transformation scenes where Frederic March‘s Jekyll becomes Hyde are really great and I suspect may have inspired Universal when they created their werewolf films. The make-up too is quite iconic and effective, better than that used in the 1941 version where Hyde looks like Spencer Tracy with messed up hair.

The only thing that I find annoying is the pronunciation of the word Jekyll. They are constantly calling the good doctor Jay-kill which is completely different to the way the name has been pronounced since then. It is just a minor quibble but it is something that I thought that I needed to mention.


Treasure Island

Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by Perce Pearce
Written by Lawrence Edward Watkin
Starring Bobby Driscoll
Robert Newton
Basil Sydney
Finlay Currie
Music by Clifton Parker
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Alan Jaggs
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) July 19, 1950
Running time 96 minutes
Country UK/USA
Language English

“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!” Treasure Island was Walt Disney’s first wholly live action film and it is a beauty me hearties. Unlike Disney live action films that followed, Treasure Island does not feature any light-hearted comic relief moments, it is just a faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.

Treasure Island is a rip-roaring swashbuckling pirate movie, but it primarily the story of young Jim Hawkins, played here by Disney’s first child star Bobby Driscoll. Driscoll’s performance is fine, although his American accent is initially a bit annoying, as are some of his weird facial contortions and expressions.

The star of the film is of course Robert Newton who plays the opportunist scoundrel pirate Long John Silver. Newton’s enjoyable performance gives the one-legged rogue a lot of charm, and whilst he is a villain, it is hard to dislike someone who is just so darn likeable. Long John is a bit of a conundrum as while he leads a mutiny and puts Hawkins’s life in danger, he has an affection for the boy and protects him from the other cutthroats, even though he makes it quite clear that the only real loyalty he has is to himself. He really is a fun character and it is clear that Newton is enjoying himself throughout the film.

Treasure Island is a lot of fun to watch. While it is a lot more serious than some of Disney’s later live action productions it is a good and enjoyable film to watch.

* The film must have been successful, at least in Australia, as an Aussie made non-Disney sequel followed in 1954 with Newton reprising his role as the iconic pirate Long John Silver. This will be coming to DVD on February 10th. A TV series also followed.

*Considering it’s popularity in Australia, it is surprising to see that Treasure Island was not released in this country until 15 February 1951, some seven months after it was released in the US.

* Buy Region 4 (Australian) release of  Treasure Island on DVD from EzyDVD for $17.97 *