Today, I logged onto Twitter and saw an article posted from The New York Times. The article was tweeted as follows: "Here are 10 films that demonstrate the breadth of Jerry Lewis's talents as an actor, comedian, and director." It's neither the first nor the only tribute to Jerry Lewis I've seen in print since the news of his death broke.
This is a cycle I wish we would reverse itself now that we have benefit of social media. Instead of folks writing detailed tribute blog pieces and print articles on an entertainer who has just died, I wish such pieces would be written while the person is still alive and perhaps really be in need of the attention and appreciation.
Robert Osborne, the late TCM host and Hollywood journalist, said something about Marilyn Monroe that was so achingly true. When Billy Wilder's SOME LIKE IT HOT came out, a film now considered to be one of the best classic comedies of all time, all the raves went to Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Lemmon scored a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance. Marilyn Monroe didn't get bad reviews, she was just overlooked by the entertainment press as an actress. She was seen more as The Sex Symbol. The Blonde. She never got an Oscar nomination in her short lifetime and career. But try to imagine SOME LIKE IT HOT without her. Look at all the books and articles praising her unappreciated talent that came out after her untimely death. She truly is a Hollywood icon who still gets national news attention whenever a previously unseen set of photos of her is discovered.
Imagine if some of those lovely articles praising the unappreciated talents of Marilyn Monroe had been printed for her to read when she was alive.
Days before Jerry Lewis died, I'd written a blog post called "Comedies You'd See Again" dated August 13, 2017. In it, I wrote that if you asked film critics and film enthusiasts what 10 classic films they would that take to watch during a 2-week vacation, no one would've mentioned a Jerry Lewis comedy. Film snobs would've mentioned deep-dish dramas like CRIES AND WHISPERS, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, TOKYO STORY and SANSHO THE BAILIFF. Even if one of those folks had seen Lewis' THE NUTTY PROFESSOR or THE LADIES MAN twice as many times as he'd seen those classic dramas, he would not have put the Lewis films on the list for fear of not seeming intellectual and cultured. That's just my opinion. And I've been guilty of that myself.
I was stunned by the extraordinary NAPOLEON, Abel Gance's 1927 silent film from France. It runs about 5 1/2 hours. I've paid to see it twice. I've seen NAPOLEON DYNAMITE about 20 times on DVD. When times were rough for me, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE could always make me laugh.
I think you get my point. Let's appreciate people while we still have them in our lives. Even if they've been difficult. Maybe they're being difficult because they don't feel appreciated for the hard work they've done.
Filmmaker/actor Jerry Lewis died on August 20th.
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