Newest Reviews
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Salon Kitty
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
Bullet for the President, A
Constant Husband, The
Newest Articles
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
  Patsy, The He's no business in show business
Year: 1964
Director: Jerry Lewis
Stars: Jerry Lewis, Ina Balin, Everett Sloane, Phil Harris, Keenan Wynn, Peter Lorre, John Carradine, Hans Conried
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Famed comedian Wally Branford has been killed in a plane crash, leaving his coterie of showbiz acolytes utterly devastated. Kind-hearted secretary Ellen Betz (Ina Balin) is part of a close-knit team headed by impresario Caryl Ferguson (Everett Sloane) and including gag writer Chic Wymore (Phil Harris), savvy publicist Harry Silver (Keenan Wynn), sinister-looking Morgan Heywood (Peter Lorre) and stylist to the stars Bruce Alden (John Carradine), all of whom find themselves facing an uncertain future. Then Caryl hits on a brilliant idea to save their careers. Using their combined talents and showbiz smarts the team will pluck some total unknown off the street and mould him into the biggest thing to hit Hollywood since talking pictures. But where can they find the perfect patsy? Lo and behold, bumbling bellboy Stanley Belt (Jerry Lewis) crashes into their hotel suite and tumbles off the balcony…

The Patsy finds comedian-director Jerry Lewis at the peak of his powers at his patron studio Paramount. Armed with a great premise and a killer cast, although Lewis does not always use them to their best advantage. In his last film role an ailing Peter Lorre (who passed away just before the film was released) sits out most of the action, but Mercury Theatre veteran Everett Sloane makes his mark while Keenan Wynn and Phil Harris (a former Las Vegas comedian and future voice of Baloo the Bear in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967)) are often very amusing in their repeated attempts to control their tempers in front of the calamitous klutz that is Stanley Belt.

Tackling an ambitious theme, Lewis and co-screenwriter Bill Richmond (who cameos as a piano player) set out to contrast what is real and fake in the world of showbusiness. In the former corner lies love, real talent, hard work and true friendship, in the latter lies showbiz chicanery and sycophancy. Lewis highlights a Hollywood contradiction in that it is a town that thrives on real talent but celebrates the fake. The Patsy is remarkably prescient in discussing the plastic nature of celebrity - how media moguls can mould some nameless nobody into whatever they want him to be. How someone without any discernible talent can score a hit record, grab a spot on primetime television or become a movie star.

As with many Jerry Lewis movies this is heavily episodic, structured around a series of skits that softens the satire, but when the scattershot gags hit their target they are sublime. Notably Stanley’s apocalyptic encounter with his vocal coach (Hans Conried) and his priceless performance of his hit single “I Lost My Heart in a Drive-In Movie”. Lewis shoehorns in a flashback-fantasy sequence wherein Stanley recalls being mocked at his high school prom before meeting a gawky teenage Ellen. It’s an engaging piece of poignant pantomime, but nevertheless a tad self-indulgent and misplaced.

Charming Ina Balin transcends the limitations of Lewis’ usual girlfriend-cum-surrogate mother role to emerge as one of his finest female foils. Her serene bemusement sells a lot of his zanier gags. The film has a beguiling philosophical undertone as Ellen argues the hardships we endure in life play a bigger part in shaping decent human beings than success does. However the scene in which legendary Hollywood gossip witch Hedda Hopper praises Stanley’s honest after he guffaws at her horrible hat, does not ring true. Not if you know anything about Hedda.

Ms. Hopper is but one of several celebrity cameos sprinkled throughout the narrative, including George Raft (in a sly mirror gag, given his real-life career as a gangland patsy almost mirrored Stanley’s), Rhonda Fleming, Ed Wynn, Scatman Crothers, Mel Tormé and Ed Sullivan who heralds Stanley’s screen debut by mentioning Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis also performed first on his famous variety show! Most of these figure in a sequence that deftly illustrates how far gossip and blather go towards shaping an overnight sensation (“I would love to see what I’ve been raving about!” remarks Ed Wynn). Eventually Stanley proves he has got talent after all, although quite how he pulls off his “Big Night in Hollywood” skit on live TV is either a devil-may-care lapse or another wry layer of self-awareness. By the movie’s end Stanley has morphed into, well, Jerry Lewis. Which, as he shows us with his playfully Pirandellian ending, is who he has always been, lifting off the final veil of illusion.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 4377 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: