The Errand Boy (1961), starring Jerry Lewis
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The Errand Boy

The Errand Boy (1961), starring Jerry Lewis

 The Errand Boy is one of Jerry Lewis‘ funniest movies, as well as being a biting satire of the movie industry. As with many of Jerry Lewis’ most funny movies, there is only a thin plot, allowing Jerry Lewis to hang slapstick comedy on the outline.   In this movie, the movie mogul of “€œParamutual Pictures” is trying to find out why he’s losing so much money since his pictures are all hits.   He decides to hire a lowly worker who will work throughout the studio and see and hear things. But who’s too stupid to realize that he’s eavesdropping.   He hires an inept worker putting up a billboard poster for the next Jerry Lewis movie — Morty P. Tashman, played of course by Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis getting twenty five cents worth of jellybeans from the top shelf … over and over again
Jerry Lewis getting twenty five cents worth of jellybeans from the top shelf … Over and over again!

Jerry Lewis proceeds to spread chaos and comedy wherever he goes.  For instance, there is a very famous scene where he is working in the studio commissary. Some young child wants a quarter’s worth of jellybeans, which are at the top of the shelf in a ridiculously large jar.   So, Jerry goes up a long, rickety ladder on wheels, gets the jar, serves the customer, and puts the jar back.   Only to have the next child want the same.   Repeat the ladder, get the quarter, next customer: jellybeans!

Jerry Lewis in the famous boardroom scene, where he pantomimes an entire meeting
Jerry Lewis in the famous boardroom scene, where he pantomimes an entire meeting

There’s also a very specific skewering of Hollywood all throughout the pictures. Both at the pretentious movie stars and the moguls running the studio. One example is a scene in an empty conference room that has to be seen to be appreciated.

Cast of characters

  • Jerry Lewis as Morty S. Tashman. Morty is the unwitting mole, who goes throughout the studio on various tasks as The Errand Boy of the title. Not the smartest person, but his talent for comedy is discovered at the end of the party. Somewhat heavy handed in my opinion.
  • Brian Donlevy (The Quartermass Xperiment) as Tom “T.P.” Paramutual. The studio boss who hires Morty, and browbeats Dexter.
  • Howard McNear (The Andy Griffith Show) as Dexter Sneak. T.P.’s obsequious underling, who’s in charge of watching Morty. A person who takes being a kiss-up artist to T.P. to new levels … until the end of the movie.
  • Stanley Adams (Requiem for a Heavyweight) as Grumpy
  • Kathleen Freeman (The Disorderly Orderly) as Mrs. Helen Paramutual/Mrs. T.P. One of Jerry Lewis’ regulars, with good reason. She has a short, but funny, appearance as Morty drives her through a car wash … With the convertible top down!
  • Joe Besser has a cameo appearance towards the end of the movie, pushing T.P. to make Morty his new comedy star.

Product Description of The Errand Boy, starring Jerry Lewis

The Errand Boy (1961), starring Jerry Lewis

In THE ERRAND BOY, Morty is hired by Paramutual Pictures as a spy to find out where the company’s money is being spent. Working in the mailroom, Morty has access to the production lot and discovers that wherever he goes, havoc ensues in his effort to provide his new boss, Mr. Sneak, with the information he has requested.

  
        
          

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