Cinderfella (1960) starring Jerry Lewis, Ed Wynn
Synopsis of Cinderfella
In Cinderfella, Jerry Lewis plays Fella, a good-natured klutz left to take care of his stepmother and her two spoiled sons in a fabulous mansion. Fantasy provides Fella with a way of coping with his life until the day his fairy godmother (Ed Wynn) appears and helps him win the heart of a beautiful princess.
Cast of characters in Cinderfella
- Fella (Jerry Lewis, The Nutty Professor). The likeable klutz in a flipped version of the Cinderella story. After his father’s death, he lives with his stepmother and cruel step brothers, who run him ragged. Until he meets …
- Fairy Godfather (Ed Wynn, Mary Poppins). Fella’s Fairy Godfather, who wants to “right the wrongs” that the Cinderella story has caused. As part of that, he wants Fella to go to the ball and win the heart of …
- Princess Charming (Anna Maria Alberghetti, Ten Thousand Bedrooms). The beautiful princess that Fella falls in love with. But his stepmother wants her to marry one of her sons, and save their fortune.
- Wicked Stepmother (Judith Anderson, Rebecca). The cruel stepmother, who is squandering the wealth left by Fella’s father. And somewhere on the estate is supposed to be a hidden treasure.
- Maximillian (Henry Silva, The Manchurian Candidate) and Rupert (Robert Hutton, Destination Tokyo) are the two wicked stepbrothers, who delight in running Fella ragged.
Editorial review of Cinderfella (1960), starring Jerry Lewis and Ed Wynn, courtesy of Amazon.com
The team of Jerry Lewis and director Frank Tashlin (The Geisha Boy) were at the peak of their hit-making prowess with Cinderfella, a klutzy take on the fairy tale. Jerry is the stepson in a snooty family, dominated by wicked stepmother Judith Anderson and lounge-lizard brothers Henry Silva and Robert Hutton. Fairy godfather Ed Wynn turns up one day, not only promising “Fella” a happy-ever-after but basically accusing the old fairy tale of ruining the lives of countless married couples by raising unrealistic expectations of Prince Charmings in every home. (Tashlin always had a nose for psychoanalytic explanations along with the pratfalls.) The movie’s very slow–especially whenever Ed Wynn is around–and has a strange taste for “interior monologue” songs, emphasizing the mawkish side of Lewis’s personality.
The good comic scenes are worth it, especially a lengthy sequence at an elongated dinner table, which Lewis must navigate repeatedly. His physical skills are showcased in a musical mime to Count Basie’s “Cute” (Basie and his orchestra also appear in the big ballroom scene) and some violently geeky dancing. This one is unlikely to win over non-Jerry fans, but the already initiated will be fine with it. –Robert Horton