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The other movie Jerry Lewis don't want you to see
August 2, 2014 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Featuring Jerry Lewis, Gladiator's Connie Nielsen and a score by The Avengers' Alan Silvestri, Par où t'es rentré on t'as pas vu sortir (How did you get in? We didn't see you leave) - available with subtitles on YouTube in its blurry VHS glory (poster 1 2) - is one of the two movies starred by Lewis during his one-year (1984) French career (the other is Retenez-moi ou je fais un malheur also known as the The defective detective). In the early 1980s, after several failures, a bypass surgery and nothwithstanding Scorsese's King of Comedy, Lewis tried to revive his career in the country where he was supposedly beloved: France. Alas, he chose the two worst French directors of the time, Michel Gérard and Philippe Clair, the latter known for cinematic jewels such as the Nazi-themed comedy Le Führer en folie (The crazy Führer), a Warner production that can actually make clowns cry. (all links below potentially and blurrily NSFW)

Born in the Jewish community of Morocco, Philippe Clair was specialized in a genre of low-brow splastick comedies that had been very popular in France in the 1970s but was already outdated in the 1980s. Clair movies were (in)famous for their pied-noir humour largely based on exaggerated North African Sephardi accents and mannerisms. In Par où t'es rentré, Jerry Lewis plays a French Clouseau-like detective named Clovis Blaireau (i.e. badger but more accurately translated as weasel) who lives with his stereotypically overbearing Jewish mom, while idealizing his absentee father, an American GI, and therefore speaks French with an over-the-top pied-noir accent peppered with Americanisms.

Featuring a complete set of fart jokes, fat jokes, gay jokes, misogynistic jokes, ethnic jokes (Lewis in full Mickey Rooney yellowface) and gratuitous shots of topless women, as well as bizarre stuff like this, the film follows the adventures of Blaireau and his sidekick Prosper (played by the director himself) first in France, and then, because the film was produced by Tarak Ben Ammar, in Tunisia (problably on the sets that Ben Ammar provided for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Life of Brian). There, our heroes are caught in 3-way war for food domination between spaghetti-trafficking Tunisian-Sicilian mobsters (Alan Silvestri in Godfather mode), sabre-wielding Tunisians from the Front of Resistance of Cous-cous (showdown with Alan Silvestri in epic western/Untouchables mode) and evil Americans who plan to sell burgers to the entire Middle-East and import the American lifestyle (including hip hop with donkeys, Tunisian women disguised as Native Americans and a rather unique take on the Statue of Liberty) with an army made of Vietnam vets and former (and topless) Women's Lib members (subtitles are slightly wrong). The evil American was played, as in all French comedies of that time, by the lovable and actual American Jess Hahn (who deserves his own FPP). But all's well that ends well, and Blaireau, Prosper and co. open a Tunisian slow food joint on the Fifth Avenue. Outtakes show the cast trying to speak English, to Lewis apparent delight. (An exhaustive review of the film is available in French on Nanardland)
18-year old Connie Nielsen, who manages to be the only young woman not to appear topless in the movie, plays the unnamed and mostly silent love interest of the Jerry Lewis character. Alan Silvestri went on score Back to the Future and Predator. Philippe Clair career was mostly over. Jerry Lewis next significant movie role would be in Arizona Dream, 10 years later.
posted by elgilito (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This looks horrible. I am going to enjoy it slowly, over an extended period. I think too concentrated a dose could cause permanent damage.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:29 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Make 'im go away ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:39 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


That "bizarre stuff like this" link is accurately described, although I will admit to being at least slightly entertained by the sight of a nunchaku master swishing his sticks around being suddenly and instantly defeated by Jerry Lewis wielding a yo-yo.
posted by JHarris at 1:15 PM on August 2


I'm guessing the first Jerry Lewis you don't want to see is the infamous The Day The Clown Cried, but that's not true. People tend to want to watch train wrecks, even if it's involuntarily. But the thing is, few people have ever had the chance to see that one.
posted by JHarris at 1:32 PM on August 2


Further evidence that men just aren't funny.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:14 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


(also, this is a great FPP - nice work, elgilito - I especially like that you send us to the specific spots in the film as you refer to them)
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:15 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing the first Jerry Lewis you don't want to see

"The other movie Jerry Lewis don't want you to see",
not
"the other Jerry Lewis movie you don't want to see."
posted by murphy slaw at 2:23 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Oh dear god, that yellow-face clip. Yikes.
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Wow... tried a couple bits of the film, it's just... horrible. Might be a good riffing film, with enough clever and slightly drunk friends.

Here's a bit of that Nanarland review, pour les Anglophones:

"The idea, at root, must have been to make an interesting funhouse mirror image, an original fusion of two opposed worlds: a film made by a pied noir, with a real American actor playing a fake American but a real pied noir!

"Only the director is named Clair. First name Philippe. And with him anything goes. Including the total humiliation of Jerry Lewis, reducing him to less than dirt, below the level of Daniel Darnault on his worst day. Only one word comes to mind to describe the performance of Lewis in this film: SHAMEFUL! Not content to dub him with a pied noir accent (abominable!) when his dubber doesn't take on a fake American accent instead (apocalypse!), Jerry Lewis seems to not give a damn, repeating his old gags without conviction, producing grimaces unworthy of his parodists, without even bothering to make the thing coherent. We finally realize how Buster Keaton retained his class in "War Italian Style". It has to be said, at least when Philippe Clair is directing, Jerry Lewis is the least funny actor in the world."
posted by zompist at 11:23 PM on August 2


Surely you mean Super Mario Bros. Alan Silvestri.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:39 AM on August 3


> Alas, he chose the two worst French directors of the time

an unmistakable sign of which is, they wanted Jerry Lewis in one of their movies
posted by jfuller at 1:40 PM on August 3


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