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CINDERFELLA (1960)
Article 2012 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-17-2006
Posting Date: 2-14-2007
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Featuring Jerry lewis, Ed Wynn, Judith Anderson

 

The heir to a hidden fortune finds himself oppressed by his stepmother and two stepbrothers. He then meets his fairy godfather, who tells him that he will hin the hand of Princess Charming.

I don't quite know what to make of this attempt to turn the old fairy tale into a vehicle for Jerry Lewis. Despite having a simple and basic story to use as a template, the script seems more intent with muddying up the proceedings by introducing a subplot about a hidden fortune, making oddball observations about the effect of the Cinderella story, and playing for pathos at all the wrong times. Though I loved Lewis's comic persona when I was a kid, as an adult I find it gets old quickly, and I think it doesn't lend itself at all well to the pathos that it strives for on occasion. Also, with the exception of the musical numbers by Count Basie and his orchestra, the music numbers here are extremely weak; Lewis really shouldn't sing. Still, the movie has an interesting cast, what with Ed Wynn, Judith Anderson, Henry Silva and Robert Hutton on hand; Anderson in particular does an excellent job bringing to life and fleshing out the stepmother. And Lewis did have some real comic gifts; my favorite moment here is when, while listening to a Count Basie number on the radio, he puts on a pantomime of playing the various instruments, a sequence which nonetheless has nothing at all to do with the story.

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