Cinderfella is a 1960 American comedy film adaptation of the classic Cinderella story, with most characters changed in gender from female to male and starring Jerry Lewis as Fella. It was released November 22, 1960 by Paramount Pictures.
Theatrical poster by Norman Rockwell
|Directed by||Frank Tashlin|
|Produced by||Jerry Lewis|
|Written by||Frank Tashlin|
Anna Maria Alberghetti
|Music by||Walter Scharf|
|Cinematography||Haskell B. Boggs|
|Edited by||Arthur P. Schmidt|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||936,799 admissions (France)|
When Fella's (Jerry Lewis) father dies, he continues to live with his wicked stepmother, Emily (Judith Anderson), and her two sons, Maximilian (Henry Silva) and Rupert (Robert Hutton). His stepfamily takes over the family mansion, while Fella is reduced to living in an unfinished room at the end of a long hallway. He has in essence become their butler, catering to their every whim.
Fella dreams nightly that his father is trying to relay a message to him about where he has hidden his fortune, but he always awakens before he learns the hiding place. His stepfamily knows of this secret fortune and some go to great lengths to discover its whereabouts, while others pretend to befriend him in order to wrangle Fella's fortune away once it is found.
Princess Charming (Anna Maria Alberghetti) of the Grand Duchy of Morovia is in town, so the stepmother decides to throw her a lavish ball in order to get her to marry one of the sons. Fella is not allowed to go to the ball, but his fairy godfather (Ed Wynn) says he will not remain a "people" much longer, but will blossom into a "person."
Before the ball, Fella is turned into a handsome prince. Count Basie's orchestra is playing at the ball when Fella makes his grand entrance. The young man quickly gains the attention of the Princess and they dance. The night is cut short when midnight strikes and Fella flees, losing his shoe along the way.
Back home, one of Fella's stepbrothers realizes that Fella is the supposed "prince." They wind up in a struggle under a tree, in the process discovering that this is where Fella's father's fortune is hidden. Fella gives the money to his stepfamily, saying he never needed money to be happy, he only wanted a family. Shamed, his stepmother orders her sons to return the money to Fella.
The Princess arrives with Fella's lost shoe, but Fella explains that they could never be together because she is a "person" and he is a "people." She tells him that, underneath the fancy clothes, she is a "people" too.
Cinderfella was filmed from October 19 through December 15, 1959.
While rehearsing for the scene in which he makes his entrance to the ball, Lewis realized that the movement of his pants was distracting. On the day of filming, he asked the wardrobe staff to attach elastic bands to the hems of his pant legs that would go under his shoes, keeping the pants straight. In the DVD commentary to the film, Lewis called this "an old dancer's trick." The scene was shot with one take of Jerry Lewis going down the stairs and one take going up. He ran up the stairs in less than nine seconds and collapsed at the top. He was taken to the hospital and spent four days in an oxygen tent with his second cardiac event. This delayed filming for two weeks.
The exterior shots of the mansion are the well-known Kirkeby mansion in Bel Air; in the years following Cinderfella, this mansion would become famous as the mansion of The Beverly Hillbillies. Budget $3,000,000 (estimated); box office $4,700,000.
Studio cast recording
A studio cast album for the film, featuring Lewis with a different supporting cast, was released by DOT Records (DLP 38001). Most of the songs included on the album were not in the final release of the film. The album featured a condensed version of the story as well.
- Overture (Arranged and Conducted by Walter Scharf)
- Let Me Be a People (Jerry Lewis)
- Ticka-Dee (Jerry Lewis)
- I'm Part of a Family (Jerry Lewis)
- Turn It On (Jerry Lewis & Choir)
- We're Going to the Ball (Salli Terri, Bill Lee & Max Smith)
- Somebody (Jerry Lewis)
- The Princess Waltz (Jerry Lewis, Loulie Jean Norman & Choir)
- Turn It On (Jerry Lewis, Del Moore & Choir)
Paramount wanted to release the film during the summer, but Lewis considered it a holiday film and wanted to hold it back for a Christmas release. The only way the studio would delay its release was for Lewis to provide them with another movie they could release in its place in the summer. Lewis agreed and wrote, produced, and directed The Bellboy in four weeks in February 1960 while he was performing at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. That movie was released on July 20, 1960.
Cinderfella opened at the Woods theatre in Chicago on November 22, 1960, grossing $41,000 in its first week. It opened in Los Angeles on December 14, 1960 and New York on December 16 before opening nationally on December 18 and became the number one grossing film for the week.
In 1967, Cinderfella was re-released on a double bill with another Jerry Lewis film, The Errand Boy.
The film was released on DVD on October 12, 2004.
- Cinderfella at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Box office information for film in France at Box Office Story
- "Holiday Week Hypos Chi Biz". Variety. November 30, 1960. p. 9. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Neibaur, James (1995). The Jerry Lewis Films. McFarland & Company. p. 148. ISBN 0-89950-961-4.
- "National Box Office Survey". Variety. December 21, 1960. p. 13. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
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