At the beginning of the movie, a supposed movie executive warns that the movie has no plot and no story …. And that’s roughly true. It’s a sequence of jokes and sight gags staged at the Fontainbleu hotel in Florida, where Jerry Lewis was appearing on stage in the evening. And writing, producing, directing and starring in The Bellboy during the day. The skits are held together by the glue of Jerry’s character, Stanley. He’s an inept bellboy at the hotel, who either ruins or saves the day in a variety of hilarious skits. Highly recommended — I give this black and white film 5 clowns, a (very rare) perfect score.
Editorial review of The Bellboy (1960) courtesy of Amazon.com
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 Fontainebleau 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 Horton
Product description of The Bellboy
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
Trivia for The Bellboy (1960), starring Jerry Lewis
- Jerry Lewis shot the movie in four weeks at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel while he also was performing there. He edited it during his subsequent engagement in Las Vegas.
- Jerry Lewis is credited with having created the video-assist technique for this film. At the time it was called “Closed Circuit Television Applied to Motion Pictures”. He was awarded a patent for it.
- Cinderfella (1960) was ready to be released that summer. But Jerry Lewis wanted it to wait until Christmas, being a family-oriented film. Regardless, Paramount demanded a summer film, so Lewis shot this film in four weeks. He directed himself because nobody else could do it as quickly as needed.
- The cast are largely nightclub performers from the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami, Florida during the time of filming. Lewis was under tremendous pressure to finish the film quickly in order to release in time for the summer season. Despite writing a 165 page script (enough for a roughly 2 1/2 hour film), Lewis’s final cut ran 71 minutes.
- Jerry Lewis wrote the script in eight days.
- Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle played both themselves and a bellboy. Lewis as himself seeing Berle as the bellboy, and Berle as himself running into Lewis as the bellboy.
- In the film, Jerry Lewis’ frequent co-writer Bill Richmond does a quick walk-on as Stan Laurel, one of Lewis’ idols. The Laurel imitation, Lewis’ non-speaking bellboy and the black-and-white photography show Lewis’ intention to make a silent-movie-type comedy.
- The first theatrical release directed by Jerry Lewis.