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The Delicate Delinquent

The Delicate Delinquent (1957) starring Jerry Lewis, Darren McGavin

The Delicate Delinquent is Jerry Lewis‘ first solo film without Dean Martin. But it’s worth watching for more than that.   In the title role, Jerry Lewis plays the part of Sidney Pythias. Sidney is an awkward young man who’s mistaken for a gang member during a police round-up.  A caring police officer named Damon, played by Darren McGavin, intercedes in the directionless young man’s life, for the better.   The movie was originally written for the team of Martin and Lewis. The title characters’ names referring to the Greek myth of Damon and Pythias, inseparable friends.   Darren McGavin does excellently in the role of Officer Damon, who is “bucking the system” by trying to rehabilitate delinquents.

The Delicate Delinquent, starring Jerry Lewis and Darren McGavin

Jerry Lewis is very funny in the comedy moments.  I loved the interaction with the slightly-mad scientist who lives in Sidney’s building, as well as the opening sequence and later on fumbling through the police academy.  But Jerry also displays his acting skills in the movie’s more serious moments.

Both comedy and drama, The Delicate Delinquent is a fairly well done (although lower budget) film. It’s definitely worth watching.

Trivia about The Delicate Delinquent, starring Jerry Lewis, Darren McGavin

  • After Hollywood or Bust (1956), this was to have been the next film for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Martin refused to be seen on screen in a police uniform. The partnership of Martin and Lewis soon ended. Thus, this film Lewis’ first solo effort. The part that Martin refused to play went to Darren McGavin.
  • Jerry Lewis has said that if he’d had more control at the time, he would never have made The Delicate Delinquent. It was a daily reminder of his painful split with his longtime partner Dean Martin


Computer nerd by day, professional clown on evenings and weekends (Raynbow), who combines the two by maintaining a bunch of websites dedicated to the history and performances of clowning, such as Free Clown Skits, and comedy such as Best Clean Funny Jokes.

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