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While Eddie Murphy's remake gets all the attention now, let us not forget about the original Jerry Lewis version of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR ($30), which is a comedy classic that still generates big laughs. With THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, co-writer/director Jerry Lewis placed his own spin on the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and created at least one unforgettable character. In THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, Lewis portrays Professor Julius Kelp, a brilliant chemist who is wrapped in the persona of the world's biggest nerd and social misfit. The accident prone, buck toothed, bespectacled Professor Kelp serves as the yardstick against which all other cinematic geeks are measured. Heck, I sometimes wonder if 90's ultra-nerd Steve Urkel was the illegitimate offspring Professor Kelp.

Anyway, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR follows Professor Kelp's exploits to change his image and make himself more attractive to a certain beautiful student named Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens). After exhausting the standard means of re-inventing himself, the Professor tries "better living through chemistry" and whips up a potion that turns him into a cool, sophisticated playboy named Buddy Love. As Buddy Love, Professor Kelp has a way with the ladies and gets to experience life, as he never has before. Unfortunately, the good Professor's "Love" potion always wears off at the most inopportune times, leaving him with a severe case of split personality. As both Professor Kelp and Buddy Love, Jerry Lewis delivers performances that display moment of inspired genius; I'm sure that long time Lewis fans will recognize the Buddy Love persona as a dead on parody of Jerry's former comic partner Dean Martin. In addition to Lewis and Stevens, the cast of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR includes Del Moore, Kathleen Freeman, Med Flory, Norman Alden, Howard Morris, Elvia Allman, Milton Frome, Buddy Lester, Marvin Kaplan Julie Parrish, Henry Gibson and Les Brown.

Paramount Home Entertainment has done a truly marvelous job of transcribing THE NUTTY PROFESSOR to the DVD format. Not only is the wide screen transfer really beautiful, the DVD has also been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Framed closely to 1.85:1, this new edition of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR is the absolute best that the film has ever looked in the home venue. The image on the DVD is sharp, nicely detailed and the rich Technicolor hues practically pop off the screen. Primary colors are used to marvelous effect during the laboratory scenes, with all of the beakers bubbling up vibrant colored concoctions. Additionally, when Buddy Love makes his first appearance, his neon blue suit really looks incredible. Flesh tones are appealing, although they do have that healthy glow of a Hollywood makeup department. Blacks are accurate, although the level of shadow detail is limited by early 1960's film stock. The film element used for the transfer has a few age-related blemishes, but is otherwise in very good shape. There are occasional signs of film grain, but it isn't terribly bothersome. 

For this release, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR has been given a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel remix. The mix really favors the film's music and sounds as if the original stereo recordings were unearthed to create the new mix. Musical passages have very good fidelity for their age and a surprisingly effective bottom end. However, the music is the only sound element that seems to make use of the surround channels. Dialogue is a bit flat sounding, although is always intelligible and never drowned out by the music. Sound effects aren't terribly directional, however they do carry a certain forceful, bass enhanced quality, which increases their effectiveness. A French monaural soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features. Also available through the menus, is a Paramount In The 50s retrospective featurette, which looks at a number of great Paramount movies that I wish were currently available on DVD. Anyone for SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, SABRINA, TO CATCH A THIEF, FUNNY FACE or GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL?

If you want a good laugh or want to introduce a newbie to the joys of Jerry Lewis THE NUTTY PROFESSOR is the way to go. Thanks Paramount's superior video and audio presentation, this DVD will make a welcome addition to most collections. Recommended.


The Nutty Professor



DVD reviews are Copyright 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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