Thursday, June 28, 2007


...or "Jerry Lewis Versus the Menendez Brothers." — "The Son Can't Help It." — "Versailles for the Roi du Crazy."

This 1960 film is the third work by Frank Tashlin to feature Jerry Lewis somnambulantly broadcasting the treasures of his dreams; therefore, it's Tashlin's most psychoanalytic film to date. Oh yes, to quote the movie's Fairy Godfather (portrayed by Ed Wynn godfathering Tinkle from 'The Legend of Zelda'), Tashlin's "up on all this Oedipus nonsense, you know" — as well he should be, with Jerry Lewis as collaborator — initiator, even — of the project. As for 'CinderFella' itself, one can talk about (to paraphrase Private Joker) all those Freudian things, which seem to me to possess an unembarrassing urgency only in the cinema (the dream-medium) and in no other art-form. There's transposition (a goldfish becomes a chauffeur, and a bike becomes a Cadillac), the incomplete (someone gave up on the hallway paint-job as they neared Jerry's room), living-up-to-the-father (Dad's tux hangs off Junior like a laundry-sack), wish-fulfillment (goofus Fella becomes gallant Prince Charming — and assumes the appearance of his father), and combinations thereof which throw sex into the mix (Jerry starts his mornings on a way-king-sized bedframe that accommodates a mattress like a tiny island; Jerry's horrified scream, induced by witnessing Wicked Stepbrother #1 kiss Princess Charming, induces then merges with Stepmother's shriek and faint; Jerry yanks a tree-limb and a gush of money issues from a dark hole in the trunk, and knocks out Wicked Stepbrother #2). Whether Tashlin and Lewis sat down and "consciously" sketched out this structure I have no idea, and couldn't care less.

François Truffaut once wrote: "...Tashlin is so effective that an unhappy ending to one of his films would probably cause suicides." Case in point: the closing scene in which Jerry pronounces his soul to the princess, played by Anna Maria Alberghetti —

"You can't love me. ... It's not good. You're a person — and I'm a people. ... I'm a people, you're a person, and it won't mix." A sentiment straight out of life. And then —

— As you like it, ladies and gentlemen.*

CinderFella by Frank Tashlin, 1960:

(P.S. — Strange how Tashlin transforms the Long Island of 'Artists and Models' into the Bel-Air of 'CinderFella'... some Viennese quality in the air must drift on over...)

Artists and Models by Frank Tashlin, 1955:

CinderFella by Frank Tashlin, 1960:

Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick, 1999:

* "And one man in his time plays many parts, ... "

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful!
    CINDERFELLA was never a favourite of mine, but you've found some terrific thoughts in there, and without even talking about the obvious good stuff like the dance down the stairs.
    Tashlin's linking of fairy tales and Freudianism predates Bruno Bettelheim!
    I blog about Tshlin here:


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