Although he's quiet, Stanley does have a tendency to work with a slapstick style that includes various amusing facial expressions. When famous actor Jerry Lewis comes to stay at the hotel, people around Stanley notice the strange resemblance between the actor and Stanley and this causes Lewis to have trouble with his entourage.
Jerry Lewis was at the height of his popularity when he took his first directing credit, on The Bellboy, which turned out to be a huge hit and one of his funniest movies. But it wasn't business as usual: The Bellboy has no storyline, and the central character (a bellhop at the fantastically ornate Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami) executes his role essentially without speaking. Some of the gags are duds or dated, but the good ones are great: Jerry's anxious stroll across a cavernous, empty ballroom, and a small masterpiece involving four telephones at a reception desk. There's also a hilarious sequence in which the movie star "Jerry Lewis" comes to the hotel, which gives Lewis a chance to speak ("Stop with the brushing!"). The Bellboy is very short at 71 minutes, but contains essential proof of Lewis's gifts as comedian and director. --Robert HortonSee all Editorial Reviews
- Archival materials
- Theatrical trailer
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Now keep in mind, this is a Jerry Lewis film, and I realize that some people just don't "Get" Jerry Lewis. If you are one of those people, this film is NOT for you. Oddly enough his early films with Dean Martin don't fall into this category, but that's another story.
You could almost compare this film to an episode of Sienfeld. It's a movie about nothing. There is no big plot, and there is no central event. It's essentially a look at life in a fancy hotel through the eyes of a simple minded bellboy.
A true test of an actor's skills is the way they can get a message across without speaking. In this film, the bellboy doesn't speak. It's not a silent movie, everyone else around him speaks and in many cases, shouts, at the bellboy. They bark out orders, order him around but they don't speak WITH him, or seem to care what he has to say.
One of the more interesting things about this film is seeing Jerry Lewis play himself, as a movie star guest of the hotel. You get to see an entirely different character.
There are very few Jerry Lewis DVDs out. I hope this is the first of many.
Billed simply as a "visual diary of a few weeks in the life of a real nut," a clumsy, eager-to-please bellboy known simply as Stanley (Jerry Lewis), the film is essentially 72 minutes of vignettes set at the Fountainbleau Hotel, pieced together in such a way so as to tell a credible story (which, by the end we're told is more of a moral). It's also Lewis' tribute to the silent film era. Not only does Stanley not utter a word throughout the movie - at least, not until the very end - but Lewis also asked Stan Laurel to play himself in the movie. Laurel turned the opportunity down, insisting his fans would be disappointed by his aged appearance, but was happy to offer input to Lewis on the script by suggesting scenes that would be better left cut from the final print. Lewis' cowriter, Bill Richmond, played Laurel as a caricature instead, randomly entering scenes from time to time with nary an explanation for his presence. As with silent films, background music plays a key role in the picture, thanks to the score by Walter Scharf. Comic sequences such as Stanley conducting an invisible orchestra in the ballroom are heightened by Scharf's score, and add to the production values of the film. Gags include Lewis having fun with trick-cut photography, Stanley's frequent scuffles with guests, and big-time movie stars Lewis and Milton Berle visit the hotel and meet bellboys who look like each other! "The Bellboy" did so well at the box office that Lewis was able to write his own ticket at Paramount for the next few years.
Of the ten Jerry Lewis movies brought to DVD in the Fall of 2004, "The Bellboy" is second to "The Nutty Professor" in terms of bonus materials included in the package. It's a lot of extras for a film with no real plot.
A silent Jerry Lewis? Believe it or not. His everyman character of Stanley the bellboy utters not a word, just mugs & moves funny. Only the world around him contains plenty of noise. As with Lewis, there are comic moments of brilliance & gags that hit the floor with a thud. But the majority of material is hilarious. I especially liked the wink-wink nudge-nudge running gag of someone summoning Stanley & having Stan Laurel (Lewis' writing partner Bill Richmond in disguise) ambling through at the most ridiculous moments.
One of Jerry's best!