Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown


Philadelphia Premiere
Wednesday, November 9
National Museum of American Jewish History

Director: Gregory Monro
Genre: Documentary Feature
Country: France and USA
Year: 2016
Running Time: 61 min
Language: English and French w/ English subtitles

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Since the early days of television, Jerry Lewis has had audiences laughing at his visual gags, pantomime sketches, and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than a jokester. A groundbreaking filmmaker whose insatiable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage, and direct many of the films he would also appear in resulted in such adored classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor.

Lewis’s filmmaking career prevented him from being pigeonholed as a comic performer and launched his reputation as a driving force in Hollywood. Pushing boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice, and keen visual eye, he soon garnered praise overseas, particularly in France among the cultural sophisticates.

While some Americans viewed Lewis as nothing more than an abrasive clown, Europeans recognized him as a true “auteur.” So just who is Jerry Lewis? Is he just another brash, attention- hungry buffoon? Or is he a creative genius?

In celebration of Jerry Lewis’s 90th birthday and his new picture on the way, Jerry Lewis and his friends candidly reflect on Lewis’s remarkable life and decades-long career. From his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin and his incredible rise to Beatles-like fame, to his great love affair with the other side of the movie camera, director Gregory Monro invites audiences to rediscover Jerry Lewis as an influential artist, humanitarian, and visionary – the man behind the clown.

Guest Speaker: Nick Pinkerton, film scholar/journalist for Sight & Sound, ArtForum, The Village Voice, Moving Image Source, and

Sponsors: Barbara and Mickey Black, National Museum of American Jewish History


Awards and Honors: Official Selection of Telluride Film Festival

Subjects: Comedy, comedians, Dean Martin, fame, Jerry Lewis, filmmaking, Hollywood, movies, philanthropy, television, writing

For Fans Of: Biopics, comedy legends, documentaries about influential American entertainers, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, show business

Community Partners:

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