The words “Jerry Lewis” generally conjure images of a goofy guy shouting “Hey, LAAAAAADEEEEEEE!” and falling down a lot, as well as jokes about being regarded as a genius in France. And while this is true, I’ve often felt the man deserves a bit more respect than he tends to get here in the U.S. For one thing, it’s a scientific fact that “The Bellboy” is one of the funniest movies ever made (seriously, give it a shot). And for another, he is a very accomplished filmmaker, and is credited with a number of behind-the-camera techniques that have been used by directors for decades now, notably the Video Assist* (a piece of equipment mounted to a movie camera that allows the director to see exactly what the camera sees). His book, The Total Film-maker, documents these techniques, as well as offering advice to young and/or aspiring directors. I’ve never read it myself, but I’ve often heard it mentioned as one of the great books of its kind, and it’s long out of print, so finding it tucked away in the collection was quite a pleasant surprise.
The man has an ego large enough to have its own gravitational pull, but if you’re looking for advice in the field of movie making, he’s probably one of the better teachers of the old school that you could hope to find.
* Standard caveat for Wikipedia article accuracy applies.