The Nutty Professor
|The Nutty Professor|
Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||Jerry Lewis|
|Produced by||Ernest D. Glucksman
Arthur P. Schmidt
|Screenplay by||Jerry Lewis
|Based on||The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
|Music by||Walter Scharf
Les Brown and His Band of Renown
|Cinematography||W. Wallace Kelley|
|Edited by||John Woodcock|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||est. $3.5 million (rentals)
1,956,744 admissions (France)
The Nutty Professor is a 1963 American science fiction-romantic comedy film produced, directed, co-written (with Bill Richmond) and starring Jerry Lewis. The score was composed by Walter Scharf. The film is a parody of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In 2004, The Nutty Professor was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It is largely considered to be Lewis's finest and most memorable film.
Professor Julius Kelp is a nerdy, scruffy, buck-toothed, accident-prone, socially awkward university professor whose experiments in the classroom laboratory are unsuccessful and highly destructive. When a football-playing bully embarrasses and attacks him, Kelp decides to "beef up" by joining a local gym. Kelp's lack of physical strength prompts him to invent a serum that turns him into the handsome, suave, charming and cheeky girl-chasing hipster, Buddy Love.
This new personality gives him the self-confidence to pursue one of his students, Stella Purdy. Although she resents Love, she finds herself strangely attracted to him. Buddy wows the crowd with his jazzy, breezy musical delivery and poised demeanor at the Purple Pit, a nightclub where the students hang out. He also mocks a bartender and waitress and punches a student. The formula wears off at inopportune times, often to Kelp's humiliation.
Although Kelp knows that his alternate persona is a bad person, he cannot prevent himself from continually taking the formula as he enjoys the attention that Love receives. As Buddy performs at the annual student dance the formula starts to wear off. His real identity now revealed, Kelp gives an impassioned speech, admitting his mistakes and seeking forgiveness. Kelp says that the one thing he learned from being someone else is that if you don't like yourself, you can't expect others to like you. Purdy meets Kelp backstage, and confesses that she prefers Kelp over Buddy Love.
Eventually, Kelp's formerly timid father chooses to market the formula (a copy of which Kelp had sent to his parents' home for safekeeping), endorsed by the deadpan president of the university who proclaims, "It's a gasser!" Kelp's father makes a pitch to the chemistry class, and the students all rush forward to buy the new tonic. In the confusion Kelp and Purdy slip out of the class. Armed with a marriage license and two bottles of the formula, they elope.
During the short closing credits, each of the characters come out and bow down to the camera, and when Jerry Lewis, still portraying Kelp, comes out and bows, he trips and goes into the camera, breaking it and causing the picture to go black.
- Jerry Lewis as Professor Julius F. Kelp/Buddy Love/Baby Kelp
- Stella Stevens as Stella Purdy
- Del Moore as Dr. Mortimer S. Warfield
- Kathleen Freeman as Millie Lemmon
- Howard Morris as Mr. Elmer Kelp
- Elvia Allman as Mrs. Edwina Kelp
- Julie Parrish as College Student
- Milton Frome as Dr. M. Sheppard Leevee
- Buddy Lester as Bartender
- Med Flory as Warzewski, the football player
The basic characterization of Julius Kelp was a Lewis staple, having appeared earlier in 1958's Rock-A-Bye Baby, and basically identical characters would appear in 1965's The Family Jewels and 1967's The Big Mouth.
Buddy Love is often interpreted as a lampoon of Lewis' former show business partner Dean Martin. Lewis, however, consistently denied this. In his 1982 autobiography and again in a DVD featurette entitled The Nutty Professor: Making The Formula, Lewis stated that the character was based on every obnoxious self-important hateful hipster he ever knew. In the DVD commentary, Lewis speculates that he perhaps should have made Love more evil — since to his surprise more fan mail came for Love than for the professor. Film critic Danny Peary made the claim in his 1981 book Cult Movies that the character of Love is actually the real counterpart of Jerry Lewis. Lewis has stated that the two represented good and evil.
The character of Professor Frink from the animated television series The Simpsons loosely borrows many of his mannerisms and technique from Lewis' delivery of the Julius Kelp character, as well as the transition to a Buddy Love version of Frink in several episodes. In one episode, the character of Frink's father was voiced by Lewis.
The cast's costumes were designed by Edith Head.
Les Brown and his Band of Renown play themselves in the extended senior prom scenes.
Walter Scharf's score makes extensive use of the Victor Young jazz standard Stella by Starlight including an upbeat version over the film's main titles. Paramount was the copyright holder of the theme from its original appearance in The Uninvited (1944).
Love instructs the bartender to make an Alaskan Polar Bear Heater, "mix it nice" and pour it into a tall glass. The bartender asks if he can take a sip; after doing so, he freezes like a statue. While the drink started as fictional, it is now listed on some cocktail websites.
Awards and honors
The Nutty Professor was released on DVD in October 2000. In October 2004, a "Special Edition" was released including an audio commentary by Lewis and Steve Lawrence, a documentary and a short feature. In the commentary, Lewis discusses aspects of production, including his creating a real-time, on-camera monitor, which subsequently became standard in the film industry. He mentions that he recut the film for his own home viewing. He also identifies scenes that he would have liked to redo; for example, making the professor's watch sound tinny.
The DVD of the film contains a long deleted scene in which Kelp's love interest is portrayed as a sultry siren whose choreographed, jaw-dropping entrance to the Purple Pit, accompanied by jazz music, contrasts with the final edit in which she is portrayed as smart but fairly unassuming.
An animated direct-to-DVD sequel, also titled The Nutty Professor, featured the voices of Lewis and Drake Bell and was released on November 25, 2008. Directed by Paul Taylor, the film involves Julius Kelp's teenage grandson Harold discovering his grandfather's secret formula and unleashing his alter ego. Lewis had for decades talked about doing a sequel and until then had to settle for the 1996 remake starring Eddie Murphy, for which Lewis was credited as a producer. The 1996 version did produce a sequel of its own: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.
In other media
A musical theater version premiered at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville from July 31-August 19, 2012, based on a book by Rupert Holmes and with a score by Marvin Hamlisch. The production was directed by Jerry Lewis, with choreography by Joann M. Hunter. The cast featured Michael Andrew, Klea Blackhurst, Mark Jacoby and Marissa McGowan. The scenery was by David Gallo, with costume design by Ann Hould-Ward.
- "THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (U)". British Board of Film Classification. June 18, 1963. Retrieved November 16, 2014.
- "Top Rental Films of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964, pg 37.
- Box office information for film in France at Box Office story
- The Nutty Professor, Special Edition, commentary.
- "The Celluloid Pantry".
- "Cherry Capri's Cocktail Recipes".
- "Alaskan Polar Bear Heater".
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- Jones, Kenneth. "Producers of Nutty Professor Hope to Earn Broadway Tenure for New Marvin Hamlisch-Rupert Holmes Show" Archived August 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Playbill, August 17, 2012, accessed August 19, 2013
- Ng, David (2012-08-02). "Jerry Lewis' 'Nutty Professor' musical opens in Nashville". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 August 2013.