Jerry Lewis plays Fella, a good-natured klutz left to take care of his stepmother and her two spoiled sons in a fabulous mansion. Fantasy provides Fella with a way of coping with his life until the day his fairy godmother (Ed Wynn) appears and helps him win the heart of a beautiful princess.
Editorial review of Cinderfella (1960), starring Jerry Lewis and Ed Wynn, courtesy of Amazon.com
The team of Jerry Lewis and director Frank Tashlin (The Geisha Boy) were at the peak of their hit-making prowess with Cinderfella, a klutzy take on the fairy tale. Jerry is the stepson in a snooty family, dominated by wicked stepmother Judith Anderson and lounge-lizard brothers Henry Silva and Robert Hutton. Fairy godfather Ed Wynn turns up one day, not only promising “Fella” a happy-ever-after but basically accusing the old fairy tale of ruining the lives of countless married couples by raising unrealistic expectations of Prince Charmings in every home. (Tashlin always had a nose for psychoanalytic explanations along with the pratfalls.) The movie’s very slow–especially whenever Ed Wynn is around–and has a strange taste for “interior monologue” songs, emphasizing the mawkish side of Lewis’s personality.
The good comic scenes are worth it, especially a lengthy sequence at an elongated dinner table, which Lewis must navigate repeatedly. His physical skills are showcased in a musical mime to Count Basie’s “Cute” (Basie and his orchestra also appear in the big ballroom scene) and some violently geeky dancing. This one is unlikely to win over non-Jerry fans, but the already initiated will be fine with it. –Robert Horton
Funny movie quotes from Cinderfella
Fairy Godfather (Ed Wynn): [Fella has fainted] Jack and Jill! Fetch a pail of water!
[Jack and Jill magically appear and dump water on Fella]
Cinderfella (Jerry Lewis): [Fella reading from the engraving on a ring] To Fella: Love thy neighbor. Love him hard and well. The love that you give will be returned and manifested in itself, to give back the warmth and the care and the affection, as well as the hugs and the loves of those who have loved. To live and not to love could be affectionate, but yet warmth would still maintain itself in the love that you give to them. Oh, others have loved in the past and yet have found that they couldn’t be hate. So with love it is the beneficial part of giving. Many children in the past have loved and yet found that they couldn’t possibly know anyone with kissing and wisdom with hugging…
Trivia for Cinderfella
- Jerry Lewis’ musical entrance down the grand staircase was done in one take, a Lewis trademark. But his seven-second rush up the same 63 steps put too much of a strain on his heart and landed him in the hospital
- Some exteriors were shot at the Bel Air, California mansion also used in The Beverly Hillbillies
- Another song, “Turn It On” by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks was written for this picture but cut from final print.