The Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor (1964)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Screen Tests and more

Viewing "The Nutty Professor" just reminded me, how simple, yet effective, films used to be 40 years ago. If you compare Jerry Lewis’ original movie to Eddie Murphy’s remake a few years ago, it becomes obvious how the focus has changed as Lewis’ film concentrates on the smallest common denominator while Murphy’s film is a more phantasmagoric collage of absurd situations that add the illusion of more depth to the plot that may not really be required to tell the story.

As a result Jerry Lewis’ film is surprisingly straight-forward focusing on the inherent comedy in the characters and situations without creating those situations simply in order to add more laughs. The story centers around chemistry professor Kelp (Jerry Lewis) a hapless, bumbling nerd, who is completely ignored and ridiculed by his students.
One day he works on a potion to build up his body and ends up with a complete transformation into Buddy Love. Self-confident, handsome, strong and dominant, he quickly garners the adoration of all the female students on campus but his eyes are only on Stella, a student he’s fallen in love with. But the dual personality and the switch between these characters becomes more and more of a challenge as Buddy Love turns into more than just a one-night gimmick.

Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting "The Nutty Professor" in a wonderful <$PS,widescreen> presentation on this DVD that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The image is absolutely clean and clear and reveals a very high level of detail. More impressively, the colors of the presentation as marvelously rich and vibrant, rendering the professor’s reagents in vivid hues like you may never have seen them before. The entire production benefits form this richness in colors as the entire film consists of carefully created set pieces and costumes using color to best effect. Black levels are also solid, creating deep shadows that add to the image’s appeal. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are evident.

The audio on the DVD is a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> remix that is very clear and free of distortion or unnatural harshness. However, the mix is somewhat unbalanced I am sorry to report with the music and some of the sound effects being much too loud in comparison to the dialogue. As a result the sound levels are constantly jumping, potentially forcing you to play acrobatics with your remote control. The original mono track is also included in English and French.

As an extra the DVD contains a <$commentary,commentary track> by Jerry Lewis and Steve Lawrence that is highly entertaining to say the least. From impromptu singing "Stella By Starlight" to riotous laughter of the commentators, this track is a great addition to the track and perfectly suits a Jerry Lewis release with its mix of hilarity and sincerity.

"Perfecting The Formula" is a featurette in which Lewis discusses the concept for "The Nutty Professor," how he had the idea and how he put it all together. It also features interviews with other cast members, like Stella Stevens, and Lewis biographers making for a nice retrospective.

Also included is a featurette called "Jerry Lewis At Work," in which we get to see and hear much about Lewis’ career and the way he approached his movies in general.

In an "Archival" section of the DVD you will find five deleted scenes and a selection of promo reel, which were used at the time to promote the film. A selection of bloopers is also included as well as footage of Jerry Lewis visiting the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park and features a commentary by Lewis’ son Chris. Screentests from the film are also found in this section.

Paramount Home Entertainment has put together a wonderful DVD here for this Jerry Lewis gem. The film is presented in top quality and the bonus materials found on the release are not only top notch, but also ensure that they will not fall into obscurity and get lost. I’ve had a blast with this DVD and I’m sure so will you.