The Geisha Boy

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The Geisha Boy
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Jerry Lewis
Written by Frank Tashlin
Rudy Makoul
Starring Jerry Lewis
Marie McDonald
Suzanne Pleshette
Music by Walter Scharf
Cinematography Loyal Griggs
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
December 19, 1958
Running time
99 minutes
Language English
Box office $3.2 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]
1,329,398 admissions (France)[2]

The Geisha Boy is a 1958 American comedy film starring Jerry Lewis, distributed by Paramount Pictures. Filmed from June 16 to August 7, 1958, it had its first screening in New York City on December 19, 1958.[3] This film marked the film debut of Suzanne Pleshette.


The Great Wooley (Jerry Lewis) is a down-on-his-luck magician who has been invited to entertain GIs in Japan. However, even before his flight has taken off the ground, he unwittingly - and with some participation of his pet, friend and co-star in the act, Harry the rabbit - incurs the wrath of the show's headliner, actress Lola Livingston (Marie McDonald), with a series of unfortunate accidents. Upon their arrival, as he tries to apologize to Lola, he causes her more embarrassment by tearing up her dress, knocking her down the gangway, and rolling her up in the red carpet to cover up her lack of proper attire.

An orphan, Mitsuo Watanabe (Robert Hirano), who attends the reception in the company of his aunt Kimi Sikita (Nobu McCarthy), an interpreter for the United Service Organizations, witnesses the spectacle and laughs for the first time since his parents died. When Kimi brings the boy to Wooley to thank him, he and the boy become close. This, however, irritates the aunt's boyfriend Ichiyama (Ryuzo Demura), a Japanese baseball player; and his subsequent chase of Wooley (which culminates with Ichiyama's fall into a bathhouse pool that floods the street outside) causes the latter to nearly have his entertainment service status revoked by the furios USO commander Major Ridgley (Barton MacLane). Wooley's USO liaison Sergeant Pearson (Suzanne Pleshette), who has fallen for him, is able to revoke that decision - though under the condition that Wooley performs for the American troops at the Korean frontlines -, but she becomes jealous of Wooley's growing relationship with Kimi.

In time, Wooley, Mitsuo and his family become inseparable, but Wooley's lack of success as a troop entertainer makes Ridgley remand him back to the United States. Wooley doesn't want to disappoint Mitsuo by letting him find out that he has been a total flop, so he tries to sneak away when it is time for him to return. Mitsuo follows him, and Wooley must pretend that he no longer cares for the boy, which makes him cry. However, Mitsuo still follows him to America by stowing away on the plane. Once in America, they are reunited, but Wooley is accused of kidnapping Mitsuo, who is then returned to Japan. Wooley follows in the same way that Mitsuo did, but is "smarter" by hiding in a specially marked trunk, but must be rescued by the Sikitas when he can't get out. Wooley decides to stay and become a successful performer of magic in Japan. The films ends with Harry the rabbit - later renamed Harriet - giving birth to a litter of baby rabbits in the midst of a performance.


In-film references to popular culture[edit]

  • At one point in the film, Mitsuo and Wooley look at Mount Fuji in the distance. When the arc of stars as seen in the logo for Paramount Pictures (producers of the film) flashes momentarily, Wooley does a shocked double-take.
  • Sessue Hayakawa, playing Mitsuo's grandfather, reenacts a scene that he performed in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). His workers are building a small bridge in his garden that greatly resembles the one in that film and whistling the familiar Colonel Bogey March. When Lewis stares in wonder at Hayakawa and the bridge he is building in his backyard, Hayakawa acknowledges that others have mistaken him for "the actor" and then says, "I was building bridges long before he was." This is followed by a brief clip of Alec Guinness from the film.
  • The key players of the 1958 Los Angeles Dodgers (the team's first season in Los Angeles) are seen in an exhibition game against a Japanese professional team. Lewis names the players as he watches the games and is upset when the Japanese fans won't cheer his favorite team.
  • At the end of the movie, Lewis enacts the Looney Tunes outro, complete with its closing tune and line "That's all, folks!"

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 14, 2012.[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]