The Nutty Professor – 50th Anniversary Collection Blu-ray Review
To the younger generation, when you mention THE NUTTY PROFESSOR I’m sure they begin to laugh about how funny Eddie Murphy and his large family were. And I have to admit, in my opinion, along with his work in DREAMGIRLS, Eddie’s work in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR is among the best he’s ever done. But Eddie Murphy (and, really, most every comedian who made the successful jump from stand-up comic to movie star, owe a lot to the original Nutty Prof – the great Jerry Lewis.
We meet Professor Julius Kelp (Lewis, using his “hey lady” voice) as he conducts an experiment in front of his lab students. He adds a few things to a beaker and BOOM! He is chastised later by the head of his department (Del Moore) and reminded that faculty members are not allowed to do unauthorized experiments on campus. Despite his habit for causing things to go “boom” it’s clear that one of Kelp’s students, Stella Purdy (Stevens) has taken a liking to the good educator. Wanting to impress his students, Kelp invents a formula that, when he drinks it, turns him into the coolest cat around. Calling himself Buddy Love, the new guy quickly earns the admiration of the college crowd as well as the affection of Ms. Purdy. But how long can the Kelp/Love connection go on before hijinx ensue?
For those of you reading this that only know of Jerry Lewis from his work on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, here is a crash course in “Jerry 101.” After a successful 10-year run with his stage and screen partner, Dean Martin, the two parted ways. Dean went off to make Matt Helm films and celebrity roasts while Jerry went to Hollywood. In the decade after they split, Martin wrote or co-wrote and directed no less than eight feature films. Though some critics dismissed his work behind the camera, Lewis proved to be a genius. A book he wrote about filmmaking is almost required reading for those college students hoping to become filmmakers and his work is most of all, family friendly.
As Kelp, Lewis is thumbs and pratfalls, the very human equivalent of Professor John Frink on “The Simpsons.” Lewis is a practiced comedian, and even when he has no dialogue, his actions and facial expressions are enough to have you roaring in laughter. Just as different is Lewis as the suave and sophisticated Buddy Love. His hair slicked back with a cigarette in his hand, many people thought he was poking fun at the image of his former night club partner, Dean Martin. Whether the portrayal is intentional or not, Lewis does a complete 180 in his performance, playing Buddy as the coolest of cool. Loud, boastful, a little obnoxious…ok, a LOT obnoxious…Buddy would be every father’s nightmare if he showed up at the front door. Stevens is pretty and perky here and she lends Ms. Purdy just the right amount of innocence needed to pull the road off. Moore has some great scenes doing the slow boil every time Kelp gets under his skin. Also, the film boasts some early work by such comic legends as Howard Morris and Henry Gibson. Also, pay attention to the scene where Kelp decides to join a gym and you’ll get a quick glimpse of Richard Kiel who, fifteen years later, would go on to play the James Bond villain known as “Jaws” in “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the transfer here is amazing. I’m always amazed how negatives many decades old can still be in such great shape. The colors here are bright and vivid.
Audio: Presented in both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or Dolby Digital Mono, the sound is processed cleanly. Dialogue is cleanly spoken and any off camera sounds (music from Les Brown and his Band of Renown or he occasional lab explosion) do not muddle the conversations.
The collection comes with three additional discs: two classic Lewis comedies on DVD – CINDERFELLA and THE ERRAND BOY – and a CD titled “Phoney Phone Calls – 1956-1972, which include a collection of prank phone calls Lewis made on various programs. The NUTTY PROFESSOR Blu-ray disc contains the following extras:
Commentary with Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence: a fun conversation between the filmmaker and the singer. Lawrence is the perfect person to question Lewis and the two men’s long time friendship is evident in their conversation.
Jerry Lewis: No Apologies (20:57): A short filmed at the Southpoint Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where Lewis, now age 87, performs. Lewis also talks about the film.
The Nutty Professor: Perfecting the Formula (15:46): Lewis is joined by his son, Chris, actress Stella Stevens and James Neibaur, co-author of the book “The Jerry Lewis Films.” Here they discuss the origins of the project.
Jerry Lewis at Work (29:58): Lewis is joined again by James Neibau as well as another of his later co-stars, Connie Stevens, as he talks about his early film work and his decision to move behind the camera.
Deleted Scenes (6:48): Five scenes that neither add or take away anything from the film.
Promos (4:16): Six promo spots, apparently shot for television, that feature both Lewis and Stevens.
Bloopers (13:29): Funny stuff – a look at Lewis in all of his improv glory.
Jerry at Movieland Wax Museum with Commentary by Son Chris Lewis (0:45): Lewis’ Julius Kelp is unveiled in 1973.
Test Footage – Two different screen tests: Kelp Screen Test (0:46). Dr. Warfield Screen Test (1:47)
Other Footage: Kelp Calls His Father (3:05): An alternate version of the one in the film. This version is longer and is shown here in black and white.