HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, August 20, 2017

THE ERRAND BOY -- Movie Review by Porfle

THE ERRAND BOY (1961) recalls the previous year's THE BELLBOY in that we find writer-director-star Jerry Lewis shooting a low-budget black-and-white feature which is simply a plotless series of gags set in one location (in THE BELLBOY it was a busy Miami Beach hotel, while this takes place in and around a bustling movie studio).

There's a semblance of plot involving studio head Brian Donlevy and his obsequious toady, played with verve by Howard McNear (Floyd the barber from "The Andy Griffith Show") but it's just an excuse to give Lewis the run of the place once again, packing each scene with as many imaginative gags as he can devise

Jerry is helped in this task by an excellent cast that also includes Stanley "Cyrano Jones" Adams, Kathleen Freeman, Doodles Weaver, Sig Ruman, Fritz Feld, Iris Adrian, and some surprise guest stars.

Much of it is as laugh-out-loud funny as you'd expect, while the rest is rather hit-and-miss. Jerry, of course, disrupts the orderly filmmaking process at every turn, at one point dubbing his own ear-splitting vocals into a lovely young actress' song interlude and elsewhere attempting to eat a quiet sidewalk lunch on the set of a war film.

The usual bathos occurs when the errand boy befriends some cute little puppets which come to life for him in a dusty storeroom--it's in these moments that Lewis tries too hard to be charming when we really want him to keep making with the funny.

This he does in one of his most celebrated sequences, in which he pretends to be the chairman of the board non-verbally chewing out his underlings while broadly pantomiming the instruments in a blaring big band tune. For this scene alone THE ERRAND BOY is well worth a look for Lewis fans, but it has so much more to offer as well including a raucous, slapstick finale.



antoniod said...

I always loved the scene when he overdubbed the actress' vocal(of "Lover", a song Paramount owned as it was from their production LOVE ME TONIGHT).

Porfle Popnecker said...

That's always been the most memorable scene for me since I was a kid.