The Bellboy

The Bellboy is a 1960 American comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. It was released on July 20, 1960 by Paramount Pictures and marked Lewis's directorial debut.

The Bellboy
Directed byJerry Lewis
Produced byJerry Lewis
Written byJerry Lewis
StarringJerry Lewis
Alex Gerry
Bob Clayton
Milton Berle
Music byWalter Scharf
CinematographyHaskell B. Boggs
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 20, 1960 (1960-07-20)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$10 million
836,783 admissions (France)[1]


A studio executive (Jack Kruschen in an uncredited role) introduces the movie, explaining that it has no plot, but simply shows Stanley the hotel bellboy (played by Lewis) getting into one ridiculous situation after another (via a series of blackout gags), and that the movie is "so funny" before breaking out into hysterical laughter. Stanley does not speak, except at the very end of the movie. Lewis also appears in a speaking role playing himself escorted by a large entourage.


  • Jerry Lewis as Stanley / Jerry Lewis
  • Alex Gerry as Mr. Novak, Hotel Manager
  • Bob Clayton as Bob, Bell Captain
  • Sonnie Sands as Sonnie, Bellboy


Milton Berle was in town performing at another hotel while Lewis was shooting the picture and agreed to make an appearance as himself and in a dual role as another bellboy. Comedian (and future co-writer with Lewis on many of Jerry's subsequent films) Bill Richmond does several cameos as Stan Laurel. Professional golfer Cary Middlecoff, the "Golf Doctor," appeared as himself. Lewis also appears as a fictional version of himself (credited in the opening credits as "Joe Levitch", which is his birth name).


Principal photography took place from February 8 to March 5, 1960 and marked Jerry Lewis's debut as a director. Filming took place at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida; Lewis would film during the day and perform in the nightclub at night.[2]

Before he began, Lewis consulted his friend Stan Laurel about the script. Since Laurel had worked in silent films and was a master of English pantomime, he offered suggestions. It is unknown if Lewis used any of Laurel's ideas in the production.[3] But it is believed Lewis paid homage to the comic by naming his character 'Stanley' after him. A Stan Laurel lookalike character also appears throughout the story, portrayed by writer and impressionist Bill Richmond.

The film marked the pioneering use of a video assist system, providing Lewis a way to see the action even though he was in the scene.[4]

Paramount wanted to have a Jerry Lewis movie for summer release (in North America). The movie that it wanted to release was Cinderfella, which had finished shooting in December 1959. Lewis wanted to hold back the release of that movie for the Christmas 1960 holiday and Paramount only agreed if Jerry could deliver another movie for summer. Therefore, while playing an engagement in Miami Beach, Lewis came up with this.


Box office

The film grossed about $10 million in the USA alone.[5]


Eugene Archer of The New York Times wrote that some parts of the film were "surprisingly successful" and that it was to Lewis' credit that "he has kept his energetic demeanor in reasonable check," to the point that some of his fans "may find the comedian disappointingly restrained."[6] Variety stated, "Several of the sequences are amusing, but too many are dependent upon climactic sight gags anticipated well ahead of the punch ... There are latent elements of Charlie Chaplin's little tramp, Jacques Tati's 'Hulot,' Danny Kaye's 'Mitty' and Harpo Marx's curiously tender child-man, but the execution falls far short of such inspiration."[7] John L. Scott of the Los Angeles Times commented that there were "some very laughable situations" in the film, adding, "Some gags don't come off too well, but there are so many that the poorer ones quickly get lost in the fast shuffle."[8] The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Too many scenes are both pointless and witless; sometimes the gag doesn't work, sometimes the direction is to blame. And Lewis's habit of ending each joke with a display of cross-eyed, simian mugging is scarcely endearing. Nevertheless, there remain some half-dozen moments of genuine comic invention."[9]

The film has a rating of 70% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 10 reviews.[10]

Home media

This film was released on DVD on October 12, 2004.[11]

See also


  1. Box office information for film at Box Office Story
  2. Goyanes, Ily (August 26, 2010). "Celluloid City: Jerry Lewis Is The Bellboy at the Fontainebleau Hotel". Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  3. Jerry Lewis At Work (included in the Paramount DVD release of The Nutty Professor
  4. Franich, Darren (October 6, 2013). "The Bellboy (1960)". Movie Tech Breakthroughs: 10 That Broke the Mold. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-06. Lewis wanted to be able to look at scenes even when he was on screen. So he used primordial video technology, putting a video camera next to the film camera. This system became known as video playback and was basically used by everyone in Hollywood, before everyone in Hollywood stopped shooting on film.
  5. Lewis, Jerry; Gluck, Herb (1982). Jerry Lewis In Person. New York: Atheneum. p. 226. ISBN 0-689-11290-4.
  6. Archer, Eugene (July 21, 1960). "Screen: Double Feature". The New York Times. 17.
  7. "Film Reviews: The Bellboy". Variety. July 13, 1960. 6.
  8. Scott, John L. (July 7, 1960). "Lewis Plays Zany but Silent Bellboy". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 8.
  9. "The Bellboy". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 27 (320): 123. September 1960.
  10. "The Bellboy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  11. "The Bellboy: Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  12. Sachs, Ben (May 23, 2012). "Now playing: Battleship, which isn't quite terrible". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  13. "The Bellboy". The Quentin Tarantino Archives Community. June 21, 2002. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
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