March 16 marks Jerry Lewis’s 90th birthday, which MoMA celebrates with a retrospective of some of his finest films, nearly all presented in rare 35mm prints. Many programs will be accompanied by surprise packages of outtakes, screen tests, home movies, and behind-the-scenes footage chosen by Robert Furmanek, Mr. Lewis’s longtime personal archivist. Happy Birthday Mr. Lewis presents an in-depth look at a profoundly American artist. Organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, and Robert Furmanek, independent curator.
Martin & Lewis
The comedy duo of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin took the country by storm, and launched Lewis’s career in film. MoMA celebrates this ground-breaking partnership with highlights from their 16 films together including That’s My Boy (1951), the rarely screened 3 Ring Circus (1954), and Frank Tashlin’s self-reflexive masterwork Hollywood or Bust (1956), as well as “The Birth of Martin and Lewis,” a program of rare film clips, home movies, and excerpts from their famously anarchic early television appearances.
Lewis went on to become a comedy star in his own right in the ‘50s and ‘60s, forming a long-running partnership with director Frank Tashlin that produced such popular success as Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958), and Who’s Minding The Store (1963).
Behind the Camera
Lewis’s directorial debut with The Bellboy (1960) marked the beginning of a remarkable series of high personal, highly stylized films that earned the admiration of international audiences and critics. In the words of Jean-Luc Godard, “Lewis is the only American director who has made progressive films.” MoMA’s retrospective includes his masterpiece The Nutty Professor (1963) as well as a unique copy of a director’s cut of The Ladies’ Man (1961), featuring some breathtaking moving camera work that was eliminated from the release prints.
Lewis’s stunning work in his late career is highlighted with a special digital screening of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982) as well as Smorgasbord (1983), his last feature as a director.