The Family Jewels

Screening on Film
Directed by Jerry Lewis.
With Jerry Lewis, Sebastian Cabot, Donna Butterworth.
US, 1965, 35mm, 100 min.
Print source: HFA

I’ve spent almost a decade grappling with the nuclear blast of inspiration I got from a “Late Jerry” retrospective at Anthology Film Archives in the autumn of 2009. I was zeroing in on how to crack my second film, The Color Wheel, and the overt antagonism I perceived on the part of Jerry casting himself in, for this particular film, seven different roles—as well as writing, directing and producing the film—felt like the most logical and yet baffling way to grapple with whatever ego, neurosis and identity issues must have been plaguing him at the time. To shove that much of yourself down the audience’s throat felt like catharsis of the highest order, and this coalesced with my intentions of writing, directing, producing, editing and acting in The Color Wheel. Unlike Jerry, it wasn’t for me, and it was an experiment I never repeated. His mastery knew no bounds, and if anybody ever doubts this, I recommend trying to juggle half as many balls on a film set as he did, time and time again. – ARP

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