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Paramount Studios presents
The Ladies Man (1961)

"Just think, tomorrow my childhood sweetheart will become my aging wife!"
- Herbert Heebert (Jerry Lewis)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 11, 2004

Stars: Jerry Lewis
Other Stars: Helen Traubel, Kathleen Freeman, Lillian Briggs, Pat Stanley, Sylvia Lewis, Hope Holiday, Buddy Lester, George Raft, Harry James, Gretchen Houser, Mary LaRoche, Doodles Weaver, Francesca Bellini, Dee Arlen
Director: Jerry Lewis

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:35m:35s
Release Date: October 12, 2004
UPC: 097360601541
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BB+B B-

DVD Review

This was the second film directed by Jerry Lewis (the first being The Bellboy the year before, one of my personal favorite Lewis films) but this one is nearly as good, in which his bumbling doofus Herbert Heebert—coming down hard after his childhood sweetheart dumps him—ends up as the live-in handyman at a boardinghouse full of beautiful women. It's a perfect premise for Lewis to do his crazy spastic thing, and in the years following his breakup with Dean Martin he honed (or maybe had overblown, depending on your point of view) his wacky solo persona that would carry him through a string of comedies throughout the 1960s.

This is really just an excuse for Lewis to ham it up, only this time he's surrounded by a rather large supporting cast, including a durable comic actress like Kathleen Freeman, as well a couple of high-brow cameos from George Raft and Harry James. The boardinghouse women, including Pat Stanley and Lillian Briggs, are all brightly colored capri-pants females who exude that early '60s innocent sex appeal, hardly deep characterizations, but exactly what The Ladies Man needs to give Lewis ample opportunity to do his room-to-room shtick.

One of the signature sequences from The Ladies Man is the so-trippy-it's-cool introduction of the women, revealed via a massive cut-away dollhouse set that allows the camera to move from room to room as we meet the various residents. It's a mix of boss lounge music and pseudo-beatnik dance moves—with choreography from Bobby Van—and though it immediately serves as one of those take-you-out-of-the-moment moments, it is really the first such scene in a film that isn't shy about offering unexpected dance numbers, complete with the Harry James Band, a recurring gag about a small dog with a very big growl, or Lewis, in a typically over-the-top drag ensemble, playing his own mother.

Calling this great might be stretching the legitimate boundaries of the word, but for what Lewis did in his prime, as a solo act essentially playing the same nerdy type in every film, The Ladies Man is fine comic effort.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The Ladies Man is presented in a bright and vibrant 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that really comes to life during some of the bigger production numbers. Colors are really rich and reproduced with the kind of almost artificial early 1960s Technicolor richness. No major compression issues, and the print itself is clean and devoid of any blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital mono track is clean and hiss-free, and there is a pleasing fullness to the overall presentation that is surprisingly large-bodied, especially during the musical numbers.

A French language mono track is also included. Naturally.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
2 Deleted Scenes
7 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jerry Lewis, Steve Lawrence
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Something of a disappointment on this disc is the remarkably dull commentary track from Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence. Lots of silent gaps (I think at one point they may have left), and the conversational tone is very, very low key, with Lewis interjecting very little of substance. A few bits of salient insight on the large supporting female cast, but overall a snoozer.

Under the heading of Archival Materials Paramount has gathered up a curious mix of old promotional and studio footage that while low on content is at least interesting to look at. Included is a pair of deleted scenes, including a nearly nine-minute opera selection from Helen Traubel that is played completely and utterly serious. There is also a shorter scene entitled "Jerry Rains Confetti on Girls" (01m:27s), in which the female cast gets a mountain of torn paper poured on them by a very spastic Lewis. Outtakes has a couple of pure space fillers in the form "Jerry Asks Helen About Opera" (01m:44s) and Jerry Demonstrates the High Chair (:53s), two bits of behind-the-scenes clips that are essentially pointless aside from getting a quick glimpse at Lewis the director. A fast-motion Construction of The Ladies Man Set (:54s) shows the creation of the memorable dollhouse set, and an MDA Public Service Announcement (01m:52s) that features the same locale with Lewis using a stopwatch to make a genuinely heartfelt 60-second plea. Dance Rehearsal (:37s) shows Lewis hoofing it with one his co-stars, while the Auditions segment has the on-set tests for Pat Stanley (01m:03s) and Sylvia Lewis (03m:28s).

Also included are a pair of theatrical trailers. The disc is cut into 15 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Goofy, sometimes surreal and full of that early 1960s charm, The Ladies Man has Lewis really excelling as a pratfalling nebbish living in a house full of very beautiful women. He has his contorted expressions and stammers turned up to 11 here, and it all works wonderfully.

Vintage Jerry.

 


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