The Delicate Delinquent

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The Delicate Delinquent
Directed byDon McGuire
Produced byJerry Lewis
Written byDon McGuire
Jerry Lewis (uncredited)
StarringJerry Lewis
Darren McGavin
Martha Hyer
Music byBuddy Bregman
CinematographyHaskell B. Boggs
Edited byHoward Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 6, 1957 (1957-06-06)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.4 million (US)[1]
803,522 admissions (France)[2]

The Delicate Delinquent is a 1957 American comedy film starring Jerry Lewis. Shot in black-and-white and VistaVision in 1956 and released on June 6, 1957 by Paramount Pictures, it is notable as the first film Lewis starred in without his longtime partner Dean Martin. This also marked Lewis's producing and screenwriting debut in film.


Sidney L. Pythias (Jerry Lewis), a janitor, is mistaken for a gang member and arrested along with three so-called "juvenile delinquents," Artie, Monk, and Harry.

Police officer Mike Damon (Darren McGavin) believes he can help a wayward youth just as a cop once did for him. He is given a month by Captain Riley (Horace McMahon) to set a boy right, provided he allow socialite and civic do-gooder Martha Henshaw (Martha Hyer) assist him in the effort.

Sidney's secret ambition is to be a policeman. He also wants to impress Patricia, a student nurse who lives in his building, by making something of himself. Mike and Martha bicker while working with Sidney, who is permitted to attend the police academy, over the objections of his "friends" Artie, Monk and Harry.

Artie is accidentally shot by a gun in Sidney's possession, endangering his future with the police force, but it turns out Monk is responsible. Cleared of all blame, Sidney becomes a cop, determined to set a good example for youths like himself, while Mike and Martha fall in love.



  • The Delicate Delinquent was filmed from September 5-October 12, 1956 and is based upon a script entitled Damon and Pythias inspired by the Damon and Pythias legend. Darren McGavin stepped in to fill the role of a police officer that was originally written for Martin. Martin refused to play the role, ending the Martin and Lewis partnership[3] Although the credits show a copyright date of 1956, the film was released the following year, a common practice in Hollywood.
  • Lewis, who also produced the film, played a 'juvenile', although he was 30 years old at the time.
  • The romantic interest was provided mainly by actress Martha Hyer, who in 1966 married Hal Wallis, the producer of the Martin and Lewis films. Hyer's wardrobe was created by longtime Paramount costumer designer Edith Head.
  • Comedian/impressionist Frank Gorshin made an early dramatic appearance as a gang member.

Box office[edit]

The cost of the film was a little under $500,000, and it grossed about $6 million.[4]


It was re-released in 1962 on a double bill with another Lewis film, The Sad Sack (1957).

Home media[edit]

The DVD was released on October 12, 2004.


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
  2. ^ Jerry Lewis films French box office information at Box Office Story
  3. ^ p.198 Palmer, R. Barton Larger Than Life: Movie Stars of the 1950s Rutgers University Press, 30 Jun 2010
  4. ^ Lewis, Jerry; Gluck, Herb (1982). Jerry Lewis In Person. New York: Atheneum. p. 209. ISBN 0-689-11290-4.

External links[edit]