I’m Buddy Lovin’ It: “The Nutty Professor”

The Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “inner man” Prof. Julius Kelp releases from himself through chemical means is the rude, unspeakably conceited Buddy Love—not a good inner man.  Julius, a college chemistry teacher, fails to realize this, and never expects Stella (Stella Stevens) to fall for him.  We don’t expect it either; he’s a nutty professor—played with farcical adroitness by Jerry Lewis in the Lewis classic, The Nutty Professor (1963).

However, the movie ends on a dandy note by having Julius and Stella walk off to get married as Stella, unknown to her fiance, bears on her belt two bottles of the weird chemical that turned Julius into masculine Buddy.  Sincerely wanting the qualities of Prof. Kelp, she also wants, I would say,—for Julius—some of the qualities of Buddy Love.

Lewis’s film is a sassy, leisurely, corny delight—with “some scenes that can hold their own with the classic silent comedies” (Pauline Kael).  One such scene contains a tracking shot of people on the street looking astonished at an unseen, very, very cool Buddy.  Another shows, in a flashback, Julius’s darkly, grimly funny parents while goofy baby Julius is in a nearby playpen. . . Stella Stevens fills the bill as the lady-love, and is youthfully beautiful.  Del Moore, as the college president, and Howard Morris, as the professor’s father, are successful as well, hilariously right.

In ’63, The Nutty Professor may have been the best American comedy since Pillow Talk.

 

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