Friday, October 25, 2013

The Geisha Boy (1958)

The Geisha BoyThose who have eagerly awaited some of Jerry Lewis' post-Dean Martin classics being released on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time will have a special Valentine courtesy of Olive Films as 1958's "The Geisha Boy," 1958's "Rock-a-Bye Baby" and 1965's "Boeing Boeing" get a 2/14/12 release. It's hard to imagine that these films have not been made available on DVD prior to now! Of course, Lewis still remains a love it or loathe it proposition for many modern era film goers--but there is no denying his legacy and impact on the contemporary comedy scene. Oftentimes content to play the fool, Lewis displayed an innocent appeal on-screen that engaged a sense of silliness in us all. But he had genuine heart too, and his good-natured screen persona created some indelibly beloved characters that stand in contrast to his more complicated personal life. These films are an interesting cross section of Lewis' film catalogue as we see him doing what he does best but bringing additional elements of seriousness to the table. Made of a certain time and place, these films offer great nostalgia value for those that love Lewis--but also an opportunity for new viewers to discover Lewis in his prime.

"The Geisha Boy" is a surprisingly big hearted comedy in which Lewis portrays a down-on-his-luck magician. The only paying gig he can secure is with a traveling USO tour. As the picture opens, Lewis and his amazing bunny Harry (who steals every scene that he's in) are headed to the Pacific theater to entertain the troops with a haughty actress (a great Marie McDonald) and a kindly sergeant (Suzanne Pleshette in her film debut). In Japan, Lewis strikes up a friendship with a lonely orphan boy and his aunt. With a minimum of actual development, it's an instant family with Jerry serving as a surrogate father figure despite the language differences. Along the way, there is plenty of comic mayhem involving everything from the Los Angeles Dodgers to "The Bridge on the River Kwai" with Lewis ably demonstrating the cartoon-like faces and physical comedy that is his trademark.

What distinguishes "The Geisha Boy," though, is the sentimentality of its second act. Personally, I enjoyed the more over-the-top excess within the first part of the movie. The relationships necessary for this to really tug at your heartstrings (and clearly, it is meant to do so) are not delineated with much precision or depth. While I enjoyed Lewis and his interactions with his new Japanese family, they lacked the sweetness they might have had if the screenplay had built them in more detail. But it's all very pleasant. Lots of sight gags abound and plenty of pratfalls, it's classic Lewis. Harry, the rabbit, also gives a stunningly adept performance. With effortless comic timing, Harry turns into a true star! Obviously, I'm kidding--but I did love Harry and the preposterous scenarios they put our fuzzy friend in. And I dug that enormous in-flight carrot salad--heck, I can't even get peanuts anymore. Family friendly and funny, this is a good one for children and the kids in all of us. KGHarris, 12/11.

Although Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis made a great team, this movie, The Geisha Boy, shows Jerry's true talent solo.

Jerry plays a magician named Mr. Wooley, who plans to entertain troops overseas to make a few bucks. Part of his tricks include a rabbit named Harry. This rabbit plays a big part in the movie (perhaps taking Dean's place?). Struggling, Mr. Wooley thinks that playing for the USO will make him a few bucks and give him, perhaps, the big break he's been waiting for. In this time he meets a beautiful Japanese woman, who has a nephew that laughs at practically the sight of Mr. Wooley, and is forever changed by Mr. Wooley. In this comical love story, also featuring Suzanne Pleshette in her first movie role, Jerry really shows true talent for clean comedy and laughs without a sidekick (if you don't count the rabbit). There are also a few surprise things in the movie that you really have to pay attention to catch, making it even more fun!

I highly recommend anyone who enjoys Jerry to watch this film. It will have you rolling with laughter and magically feeling good!

Buy The Geisha Boy (1958) Now

Owing to Eddie Murphy remake, "The Nutty Professor" comes to our mind first as Jerry Lewis's most representative work, but it also tends to overshadow his other neglected gems, one of which is here, "The Geisha Boy." Despite its now corny title, the film has still a lot to offer for our laugh.

Jerry is this time a second-rate magician, who goes to Japan and war-time Korea, to entertain the soldiers; instead, he falls in love with a Japanese woman Kimi (Nobu McCarthy). He also forms an unlikely relationship with an orphaned boy, who considers Jerry as a new father. As the time of returning to America comes near, he has to decide: stay or leave?

Besides the touching story, in which Jerry shows his tender side, he exhibits lots of his crazy gags as usual, and they are very funny even now. Among many others, my favorite is "the biggest splash in the world" that happens in the Japanese public bath. And Harry the Hare always steals the show -look how he runs in a hotel -and Sessue Hayakawa appears as a cameo, to parody his role in a David Lean film (you know what).

As far as I can judge from the film, Jerry's segments are all shot inside America, just like they did in Bogart's "Tokyo Joe" (though we see a big statue of Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, Jerry does not share the screen with it.) The town of Japan is obviously made in a soundstage, but these facts are not important. As a Japanese, I am not a little surprised (pleasantly) to find that the film is friendly to Japan, (remember both nations were at war 13 years before) and inaccurate descriptions of Japan, which are still often found in Hollywood movies, are reduced to the minimal level. It is quite possible that someone behind the production team gave information on Japan, not to offend Japanese audience. The biggest suprise is that some of the gag are clearly made for Japanese; check out the scene where a Japanese boy watches a TV program. An American is speaking (dubbed) Japanese, but his speech is in a dialect of Kansai, western district of Japan. This causes a big laugh in Japan, because it is like hearing a Japanese speaking with a strong accent of, say, New Orleans or Scotland. Who thought of this idea?

My only complaint is the film is longer than it should be, and the opening and ending reels move a little slowly. And Pleshette's character (her debut, and appears in military uniform) should be given more screen time. But these are minor things. A good film that makes you laugh a lot.

Read Best Reviews of The Geisha Boy (1958) Here

After watching every Jerry Lewis movie I can get my hands on, and this being one of the first I ever saw, I would still say it is his best. As soon as the little Japanese boy laughs at him, he is asked by the family to stay and keep making the boy laugh. He rather reluctanlty does so, but soon realizes he is having fun, along with Harry, his white rabbit that travels everywhere with Mr Wooley (Jerry Lewis) The Magician, especialy to Korea to entertain the troops. A great movie for adults and children.

Want The Geisha Boy (1958) Discount?

I don't want to repeat what all the other reviewers have said. I know that when I went to see this movie when it first came out ( yes, I am "that" old ) I didn't have too much hope of it being a good movie. I mean it was Jerry Lewis without Dean Martin! How good could it be? Well turns out it was an excellent movie with an excellent performance by Jerry Lewis.

Just enough silliness without being stupid...and a surprising bit of seriousness also. I loved Harry the rabbit...and he really did almost steal the movie away from everyone...ALMOST.

My favorite line in the whole movie was "Oh look! Two genies, king-size and regular!" And those of you who've seen this movie know which hilarious scene I'm talking about!

Buy this movie and enjoy it...AND I really hope it will be released on DVD real soon.

Save 32% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment