Plot: What’s it about?
Professor Klep (Jerry Lewis) is a master when it comes to chemistry, but in all other issues he seems to be left behind everyone else. He doesn’t have any friends, he often gets into trouble with the college’s leaders, and his romantic side remains buried under all his bumbling and such. He gets pushed around by everyone and even his students bully him at times. After he is stuffed into a closet by the football player, he has had enough and starts to work out so he can defend himself. But this doesn’t work out so well and he decides to use what he knows best, which means he plans to get into shape using chemistry. He concocts a special brew and before he knows what hit him, he becomes a dapper, suave fellow and his awkward stage is behind him. He is able to romance the ladies, take charge, and even thump the bullies that used to pick on him. But soon he is changed back into his old self, which leaves him wondering which side of himself he should develop. Is his new Buddy Love side better than the old Professor Klep?
I’m sure we’ve all seen the Eddie Murphy update of this movie, but how many of you have seen this, the original? The storylines have a lot in common and many of the characters even have the same names, but these two movies share very little in common after those elements. The newer version relies on crude humor (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and the like, while this film uses more dialogue based and innocent humor. I think both are very funny movies that are worth a look, but if you want more family based comedy, then this one should be your choice. The writing is outstanding and though Jerry Lewis isn’t my favorite performer, he is in fine form here and never fails to entertain me. The rest of the cast is supporting roles, but they also liven up the movie with humorous performances. I guess a good way to sum up this hilarious film would be to say it is good, clean fun, but I am worried that might scare off the younger folks. This is a very funny movie though and more than worth a look if you’re interested.
It seems as though he is the eternal butt of the jokes about the French, but Jerry Lewis is a competent & effective performer and that is more than proven with this film. I am not a die-hard fan of his work by any means, but several of his movies are hilarious and this is perhaps his best work ever. In addition to co-writing this film, Lewis also served as director and I think he delivers a solid overall motion picture. He uses a rather basic approach, but that seems to work well for this type of movie. Of course, he plays dual roles within the movie also and never misses a step in either character. As the nerdy professor, Lewis plays the sight gag angle well and garners a lot of laughs. His odd teeth and mussed hair add a lot of visual humor as well, which is always welcome. But where he shines in this movie is as Buddy Love, where his verbal humor is outstanding. His delivery is dead on and Lewis seems to hit each line to utter perfection. The French might like more than me, but even I can tell a spectacular performance when I see one. The cast here also includes Stella Stevens (The Poseidon Adventure, Chained Heat), Kathleen Freeman (Ready To Rumble, Dutch), and Del Moore (The Ladies Man, Cinderfella).
Video: How does it look?
The Nutty Professor is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This transfer had more debris and such than I expected, but it is still a solid transfer, especially when you consider the age of the film involved. The colors look bright, but never smear and flesh tones remain natural and consistent also. I found no problems with the contrast either, as black levels are sharp and detail is always high too. A few minor compression flaws surface here and there, but nothing to get too worried about. This does look a little dated at times, but Paramount has delivered an above average transfer for this movie in the end.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc sports a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but this isn’t the type of movie that demands dynamic audio in the least. This is a dialogue driven comedy and as such, the front channels handle the bulk of the audio bundle. The vocals are crisp & clean at all times, with no volume issues in the least to contend with. The surrounds see some action from impact sound effects and music, but the audio is usually focused in the front channels. Better this though than to force surround use, so no real complaints overall. This disc also includes a French mono track and English subtitles, should you need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A ten minute “Paramount in the ’50s” featurette is included, which has nothing to do with this film. I’d rather have had a trailer, but I guess you just can’t win them all.