Since the early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humour. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such adored classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor.
By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis surpassed expectations as a comic performer and emerged as a driving force in Hollywood. He broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye. However, American critics and the cultural elite tended to reject his abrasive art. While they viewed Lewis as nothing more than just a clown, others, like the French, recognised him as a true auteur.
Celebrating his 90th year, Jerry Lewis candidly reflects back on his remarkable life and decades-long career – from his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin, to his incredible rise to fame, to his great love affair with filmmaking. Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown blends archival footage, photos from Lewis’s life and extracts from his most notable films, as well as appearances from French filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle and never-before-interviewed friends, filmmakers and critics such as Martin Scorsese, Sean Hayes, Shaun Micallef, Tony Lewis and Jonathan Rosenbaum, who give an insightful view to his brilliant, yet deeply-conflicted persona, as well as his influential mark on the world as a comic, a filmmaker, a humanitarian and a visionary.