Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Tablet trashes Jerry Lewis movie (without even seeing it)

With Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds #1 at the box office and the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon around the corner (September 6th-7th), Our Man Elli in Israel (who's been very busy as a television correspondent for the Israel Broadcasting Authority) turns us on to Tablet Magazine website ("a new Jew news site, a few months old, actually very good," he says), which, amid its coverage of Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy about American Jewish soldiers slaughtering and scalping Nazis, informs a new Jewish generation about the great Academy Award®-winning director (Jerry Lewis) and his Holocaust fantasy, The Day The Clown Cried. "Don't Forget Jerry Lewis' Holocaust Movie (It's so much worse than 'Basterds')" reads in part:

"...Lewis plays a German-Jewish clown named Helmut Doork—suffice to say that we’re making absolutely none of this up— who is sent to Auschwitz, where his job is to entertain the children as they are marched to the gas chambers. So picture Jerry, complete with slicked-back hair but dressed as a clown, doing his schtick, while Jewish children—who all look suspiciously Scandinavian; the film was made in Sweden—are joyfully, laughingly walking unwittingly to their brutal slaughter. Life is Completely, Totally Tasteless. At the end, the clown, having led yet another group of kids to the 'showers,' decides to enter with them. Fin.

"According to The New Yorker, Lewis— who was battling a Percodan addiction during the film’s production— insists the film will never see the light of day (even as he also insists it is a masterpiece). So we have to rely on those unlucky few who have borne witness. 'This was a perfect object,' comedian Harry Shearer told Spy. 'This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is.' 'I was appalled,' concurs journalist Lynn Hirschberg. 'I couldn’t understand it. It’s beyond normal computation.' No word on how the French felt about it..."

Of course, the writer has never seen the unreleased Jerry Lewis film, and in an effort to create an aura of hipster journo cool, has fallen into the "make fun of Jerry Lewis" scene that was so hip twenty years ago. In fact, the Tablet post cites the trendy, elitist Eighties-era Spy magazine as its source for its Jerry-bashing. We, for one would like to find a hip young Jewish website that's proud that one of its own is perhaps the greatest comedic figure of the Twentieth Century, and as his Oscar® this year attests, among most important innovators in cinematic comedy and cinema itself, and make headlines with a frank reappraisal of a maligned work of art.

As a matter of fact, it's high time we all get a chance to judge The Day The Clown Cried for ourselves.

Meanwhile, read the script here.

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