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Jerry Lewis showcases his physical comedy.
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2015
Jerry Lewis showcases his gifts for "physical comedy" in The Bellboy.
In the same vein as Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Lewis performs his rip-roaring, hilarious comedy not by saying anything funny, but by his gestures, manners, especially facial expressions, to elicit laughter.
This story takes place at the posh, swanky, flamboyant Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Lewis works as a bellboy along with more than a half-dozen others. He caters to the whims and demands of those rich enough to stay there. Yet this movie is not about a plot, it's about showcasing Lewis and his gifts for comedy. It's about making the audience laugh out loud.
As a homage to the silent motion picture era, Lewis speaks little in this movie. He stays quiet for more than 30 minutes at the beginning relying more on his physical comedy than on words. He finally speaks up in a different role than a bellboy but as a guess of the hotel where he converses with 50s comedy legend Milton Berle.
For 75 minutes, Lewis slapstick, absurdity, clownish antics carries the film. There's no real plot. The movie is about Lewis's comedy antics. That alone makes The Bellboy worth seeing. Lewis is a masterful comedian doing his routines. End result: hysterically funny.
Unlike the comedy where quick one-liners, comebacks, and barbs are exchanged, verbal comedy, this is about juggling five telephones at the same time: physical comedy.
Lewis' brand of humor was at its height during the silent motion picture era. Silence picture stars as Buster Keaton and Stan Laurel each made their claim to fame through "physical comedy." The same brand of comedy Lewis brought to the big screen in 1960, forty years after that style of comedy was the "toast of the town" during the roaring twenties. He pays tribute, homage, and respect to the old masters in his movie.
And to say the least, Lewis is a master himself of "physical comedy." He walks like a comedian, he gestures like a comedian, his manners are of a comedian, and for sure, he's a bona-fide comedian.