A Glimpse Behind The Curtain With Christopher Lewis As Talk About His Iconic Father; Jerry

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Interviews, Movies by - July 03, 2018
A Glimpse Behind The Curtain With Christopher Lewis As Talk About His Iconic Father; Jerry

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There’s something about getting a glimpse into Hollywood royalty that’s just hard to ignore…

In conjunction with the recent release of Jerry Lewis: 10 Film Collection now available on DVD from all major retailers we got the unique opportunity to talk with his son Christopher Lewis who worked with his father on many fronts including the preservation and restoration of many of his films.

We talked a little about getting the job of family curator, why his dad wanted to collective and preserve anything he had been in and what his ultimate joy as an entertainer truly was.

DV: I got to go through this wonderful set that Paramount produced of your Dad’s films and read up on everything and I am wondering if you can tell me a little about how you ultimately got involved as the curator and historian for a lot of your father’s work because I think from a fan perspective that might be something that gets over looked.  In the era that your Dad was working it wasn’t uncommon to really be going at a clip that we wouldn’t necessarily expect?

CL: Oh they did and my dad was very, very anal about making sure that he had copies of everything that he ever did.  He would call the American Kinescope company when he knew he was going to be on television during the late 40’s and early 50’s to get copies and in many cases we’re the only people with these Kinescopes which we’ve now donated to the Library of Congress.  However for me I kind of just fell into it all having been working with my dad for many, many years on the MDA telethons and the productions associated with that.  Eventually I then when to film school and I began to realize that somewhat needs to started putting this stuff together, archiving it, organizing it and taking care of it and I just started to do it all back in the 1970’s.

Was your Dad’s desire to do this born out of a performers insecurity or was he forwarding thinking to the point that he recognized the value of having all of this stuff available to future generations down the line and that it would have real value?

(Laughing)…Well I’m laughing because you really did just hit the nail on the head by mentioning “Performers Insecurity” (Laughs)…there’s really nobody who eclipsed my dad on that front! (Laughs)  However at the same time it really was something that he was quite proud of.  He was always very proud of his variety of success in life and he did get great pleasure from being able to show those types of things to other people.  We had a 16mm projector running at our house almost all the time with those kinescopes on them.  He loved sharing it all with his peers and just talking about it with everyone.

It’s kind of amazing when you think about it because for the time it was actually very forward thinking?

Yes, much like Lucille Ball shooting her shows on 35mm because they wanted to have it available for home movies and look what happened there.  My dad was basically doing the same thing by simply keeping copies of everything that he ever did.

When you are preparing a set of this nature with your Dad’s films in them is there a lot of work involved when it comes down to curation and making decision on what makes the cut and what doesn’t?  Can you walk me through that kind of decision process?

Well obviously it’s a collaborative effort with Paramount and plus they do tend to have their finger on the pulse of what has sold previously, what hasn’t, what fans are asking for, etc etc etc.  Plus from our end with all the people that we have talked with over the years and whenever I have done radio show interviews and things like that when people would bring up various films.  It’s all a collaborative effort but it’s pretty easy to sort out and narrow down the list when making a set like this based on all the other facts around us.

What do you think it is about the comedic styling’s of your Dad that has really managed to sustain and still stay really funny after all of these years?

Well number one is that his comedy and his films have always been really good spirited.  It’s always done in the right intention because he just loved to make people laugh.

I always tell people that he really just needed an audience of one to be performing and that was true up into his nineties because all I had to do was to go over to his house with one or two of my kids just sitting on the couch to visit with him and his flat out performing for them.  That was just his joy and his life, it really was the true Jerry Lewis as you know when people stand on stage or in front of a camera it’s a very transparent thing to tell who and what they are and he really was just being himself.

Did he appreciate how well his films have stood up over the years thanks to VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and whatever the next evolution may end up being…

Oh absolutely!  He was thrilled by it.  As he always said, he got into this business for a reason and it was to try and make people happy.  Nothing would make him happier when people would tell him that their GRANDDAUGHTER just fell in love with Cinderfella or The Nutty Professor.  It made him so proud.

This DVD set really is such a nice primer for anyone who really isn’t all that familiar with your Dad’s work.  Is there any way you can some it up as why the general film fan out there should take a look at this set?

Back in the early 1960’s I believe it was the Hollywood Reporter who said “There are only two entities who are making family fun style films, and that’s Jerry Lewis and Walt Disney”.  However my dad’s films had really managed to circle the planet in such a wide variety of ways that people in Egypt have told me that they’ve learned how to speak English by watching subtitled versions of his films and plus because of the physicality of the comedy you can watch these movies without really know what they are talking about because the traits of just being silly and fun do transcend language.  Then back in 2004 when Paramount released so many of these on DVD for the first time there was a lot of value added material, which is on the DVD’s in this set as well

Jerry Lewis: 10 Film Collection is available on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment at all major retailers now.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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