The Nutty Professor, starring Jerry Lewis
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The Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor (1963) starring Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens

The Nutty Professor is Jerry Lewis‘ most famous film, and with good reason.  Unlike many of his comedies, this is more than a thin plot for him to hang slapstick on.  The character of Dr. Julius Kelp is well-rounded and sympathetic – as well as the traditional klutz that Jerry Lewis portrays so well.  He’s the ultimate nerd. After being physically humiliated in front of his class, he tries several (very funny) attempts at building himself up. Only to fail miserably.  Kelp then turns to his knowledge of science to create a formula to turn himself into the macho he-man that he dreams of being. This is in hopes of earning the affections of Stella Purdy (played very well by Stella Stevens). 

Jerry Lewis and Stella Stevens in a publicity photo from The Nutty Professor

The potion works all too well, releasing the suave, self-confident, arrogant and conceited Buddy Love.  Whereas Kelp is barely tolerated, Love alternately bullies and sweet-talks his way into favor. The scene with him buttering up the college president, played by Del Moore, is wonderful. Until the end of the picture, when the formula wears off at the wrong time. And the ‘Hyde’ Buddy Love slowly turns back into ‘Dr. Jekyll’ Julius Kelp in front of the world, all while giving a wonderful speech that everyone should hear.

The DVD has the ordinary extras (trailers, outtakes) as well as a very nice documentary on The Nutty Professor, both the making of it and afterward.

Editorial Review of The Nutty Professor starring Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens – courtesy of essential video

The Nutty Professor in the laboratory

Jerry Lewis‘ 1963 Jekyll and Hyde variation has always been tagged by two popular assumptions: one is that it is his best work as a comic filmmaker, and the other is that Lewis’s Mr. Hyde equivalent–the slick, ultra-arrogant, good-looking womanizer Buddy Love–actually lampoons the director’s former partner, Dean Martin. Well, The Nutty Professor certainly is Lewis’s best film.

Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor
Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor

But all one has to do is watch it to realize the motivation behind Buddy Love is more confessional: he’s really much more like Lewis’s darker, narcissistic side, while the shlubby scientist (also played by Lewis) from whom Love springs is closer to the star’s screen image. You can watch all this psychodrama yourself and have a lot of good laughs at the same time with this unusual film, which still surpasses Eddie Murphy’s recent remake–though not necessarily by a wide gap. —Tom Keogh

Product Description of The Nutty Professor starring Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis as the suave alter ego Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor

Unable to put up with ridicule any longer, Kelp creates a potion that transforms him into his alter ego, Buddy Love, who is slick, cool and a hit with the ladies. The only problem with this potion is it doesn’t last very long, and wears off at the most inopportune moments.

Be sure to check out the funny movie quotes from The Nutty Professor as well.

Trivia for The Nutty Professor (1963) starring Jerry Lewis

  • According to one of the trailers for this film, “We don’t care if you blab about the beginning of this picture; nor do we care if you give away the ending; but we do care if you reveal the middle. In fact, Jerry Lewis urges you to see this picture from the beginning, on penalty of losing your popcorn privileges.” This spoofs Alfred Hitchcock’s dictum that Psycho (1960) had to be seen from the beginning and his insistence that no latecomers be seated (“not even the [theatre] manager’s brother”).

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