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sábado, 8 de noviembre de 2014

Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella - 1960

This is a short paper about the film, originally wrote by myself  in spanish. I can't translate it complete, so, I give here a summary (pardon my poor english)

About the film
Cinderfella was released on 16 december 1960, becoming an instantaneous blockbuster since the public was anxious to watch the new "romantic fairy tale revisited" (as well as also the soundtrack launched simultaneously).Directed by Frank Tashlin, with Ed Wynn, Judith Anderson, Henry Silva, Robert Hutton and Ana María Alberghetti. Produced by Jerry Lewis. Script: Frank Tashlin. 90 minutes running time.

With an impressive première, held in Chicago on 22 november 1960, Lewis set up his charismatic vision about how to please his fans, arriving to the festival in a "pumpkin carriage", meeting the lovely Cinderella...whom hit his head with the magic wand investing him of magical charm.

And was a blast.
Nominée to Golden Laurel Award for Best Actor, Jerry Lewis won the fourth place.
With amazing wardrobe design of Edith Head, the legendary Paramount's designer, who made dozens of incredible suits, the Count Basie Orchestra, the luxurious plateau, the sensational locations in Bel Air (Polo and Golf Club scenes in Will Rogers State Historic Park near Santa Monica and Holmby Park in Los Angeles) the movie combines fantasy, comedy and naif romance. 
Damn stairs!: the sets have stairs anywhere, in the paradisiac mansion (the Kirkeby's, in 750 Saint Cloud Road, Bel Air), in the ballroom (the entrance and the exit) (Paramount). It was Lewis's nightmare. After several reharsals, up stair and down stair, when the ball scene was shot in Paramount Studios and

when the clock warned him he rushed up the 63 steps of the staircase in seven seconds, and
 collapsed. The bodyguard Fritz Hawks at the time guarding a chest of jewels valued at fifty thousand dollars, ran desperately for oxygen and took Lewis to the hospital.
Doe to the overexercise because of Jerry spent four days observing and filming delayed two weeks after which he returned to the set and ended with shots.

After legal struggles with Walt Disney who claimed for the use of the term and concept "Cinderfella" close to his "Cinderella", and another legal incident over the "diner scene at the huge table", which allegedly was written by Cy Howard in 1953 for duo with Dean Martin, suddenly ended when  the Paramount's lawyers buffet presented some evidences favoring the writer, the production was done. 

But it was not the dream movie that Lewis once dreamt. 
Although the good critics and unconditional love from his fans, the movie had several problems. 
Ed Wynn who played the role of fairy godfather, was completely wasted and after a vaste edition, some of his scenes were deleted and at the plot's end, he dissapears at all. 

The charming Fella, conceived by Lewis itself, dragged a lot of critics among the media. No romanticism, no sensual approaching to the Princess, dissapointed the female audience, not matter how many times Lewis emphasized his love for children, most of his public at this time were women! 
His conception of "charmed Fella" is an old man (the shadow of his father) without any emotion, just playing the role as an archetype. His manners and customs are those of a simple guy that is mocked all the time for a terrible family, clowning with his crazy faces and gestures, but moody, naif. 

Judith Anderson made a good play as the stepmother and we can say that is all about. Ana Maria Alberghetti as the Princess Charming, fits well in the role, even the reminiscenses with Audrey Hepburn, the italian actress done it well. 
How to deal with the unacceptable concept of : "you are person, I am people"???
Which was the secret behind this Lewis concept? Maybe he desired to erase all sensual or sexual connotations in the tale? 
Why he wore the red jacket instead of a black or grey suit or a tuxedo? Maybe as a protest against the "blue" dress code tagged for "princes"? Or was it just a visual appeal to distinguish it from other men in the ballroom?
No signs of continental ways, nor the behaviour, neither the context. The transitions between the poor guy to the refinated old man, and from the old man to the poor guy was brutally cut in post edition. Two simple sequences shot were cut off and concealed the metamorphosis leaving a bitter taste. 

The dense atmosphere of the ghostly presence of his faher (exemples: the shadow at the mansion stair, wearing the father's tuxedo, protesting in the basement deeply moody, sleeping in a twin matress disposed in a king size bed) take off rhytm and freshness to the movie. Maybe as a result of the systematic great post edition cuts, the movie runs slow and disjointed. 

I wonder why they do not took advantage of the super expensive car Golden Sahara II, property of Jim Street Skonzakes, just for few takes? This amazing car was designed by George Barris from a Lincoln Capri in 1953. The model used in the movie is the second version of 1960.
The owner drove the car and actor Norman Leavitt played the role of chauffer only for three takes!.
Nor George Barris and Jim Street neither Norman Leavitt appears in film credits.
And a bad choice was do not show the splendid car when Fella arrives to the ballroom,  being a crucial scene! And more about the transitions!
 Altough in the '50 they had not many FX, at least they could do some fading out, or flash blast, or black out!

Some technical failures in the film: the scene when Fella is sleepwalker and goes out across the left side of window, walking crouched below the frame, leaving visible his yellow shirt (maybe because was made in one take), the umbrella at the piscine spinning around without reason, Fella spilling the salt into his soup then trying to scoop the salt out of the soup with the salt shaker, in the next shot, the salt shaker is dry and full.

The musical numbers do not get along with the discursive level of the plot and break the
attention. Originally there were three musical numbers, but the third was discarded in the post production.

Another musical number with Francesca Bellini, Joi Lansing, Barbara Luna, Frances Mc Hale and Darlene Tompkins was discarded, this scene was called "dream sequence", never shown even as archive material for dvd release. The original running time of 99 minutes ended in 90. With this vast edition caused the existence of gaps in the plot.
Anyway is a good movie.Don' t  get me wrong, I love Jerry Lewis, but I think we need to be objective.!




Première. Ana María Alberghetti and Jerry Lewis on stage. Still. A.Scaffino.










Panoramic. Première. Still. A. Scaffino.


Première. Pumpkin carriage. Still. A.Scaffino. 

Artwork A. Scaffino


 The impossible love between "people" and "person" in Lewis thinking. Still: A. Scaffino. 





The unique moment of love and tenderness between the boy and the Princess. Stills: A. Scaffino. 
The luxurious Golden Sahara II model 1959 valued in US 75.000 .- !!!. Still: A. Scaffino. 



The owner drove the car and actor Norman Leavitt played the chauffeur for three takes. 
Stills: A. Scaffino. 



The amazing dress of Princess Charming. Still: A. Scaffino. 



The dress highlighted by Louella Parsons in Los Angeles Examiner. 



Edith Head's wardrobe designs.


The Count Basie Orchestra. 


Lewis with Frank Tashlin. 


Dozens... dozens of wonderful dresses. Still: A. Scaffino.



The charmed Fella. Still: A. Scaffino. 



Pictures not marked as A. Scaffino were
 taken from several internet sources, not copyright infringement is intended.