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.
(“We Have That?” is a new, semi-regular feature of this blog, spotlighting books, periodicals, and other resources that you might be surprised to find we have in our collection.)
Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned is the true life story in graphic novel form (that’s a fancy way of saying “comics”) of the friendship between Judd Winick and the late Pedro Zamora, both former castmates of the third season of MTV’s long running reality soap opera, “The Real World.” Winick was an aspiring cartoonist from Long Island, NY, while Zamora was an AIDS educator originally from Cuba, and though they came from two different worlds, they became fast friends, and the effects of that friendship would continue to shape Winick’s life long after Zamora lost his battle with the disease. It’s a moving story, and though Winick’s art style is a bit cartoonish, none of the impact of the story is lost as a result.
It’s a story of friendship, it’s a story of bravery in the face of death, and yes, a reminder of a time when Real Worlders were actually kind of interesting, not just obnoxious people who wanted to be on “The Real World” (I’m showing my age with that one, huh? Get off my lawn, you kids!). We don’t have a lot of graphic novels tucked away in the collection, but I’ll go on record as saying this is a good one to have.