The Disorderly Orderly

The Disorderly Orderly is a 1964 American comedy film released by Paramount Pictures, and starring Jerry Lewis. The film was produced by Paul Jones with a screenplay by director Frank Tashlin, based on a story by Norm Liebermann and Ed Haas.

The Disorderly Orderly
Theatrical lobby card
Directed byFrank Tashlin
Produced byPaul Jones
Written byNorm Liebermann
Ed Haas
Screenplay byFrank Tashlin
StarringJerry Lewis
Susan Oliver
Glenda Farrell
Kathleen Freeman
Karen Sharpe
Music byJoseph J. Lilley
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 16, 1964 (1964-12-16)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,700,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]
1,434,122 admissions (France)[2]


Jerome Littlefield (Jerry Lewis) is an orderly at the Whitestone Sanatorium and Hospital who suffers from "neurotic identification empathy"—a psychosomatic problem that causes him to suffer the symptoms of others and interferes with his ability to function effectively on the job. His unwitting propensity for slapstick-style mayhem sorely tries the patience of Dr. Howard (Glenda Farrell) and Nurse Higgins (Kathleen Freeman).

When his high school crush Susan Andrews (Susan Oliver) is admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt, Jerome gradually comes to the realization that his problem is a result of his years-long obsession with her. While he fails to establish a romantic relationship with Susan, he does lift her spirits, thus banishing any thought of suicide and giving her the will to live.

A runaway gurney is chased by several ambulances and causes the destruction of ceiling-high canned goods displays in a grocery store. Littlefield is cured of his problem, reunited with his girlfriend Julie (Karen Sharpe), and looking forward to resuming his interrupted medical school career.



The Disorderly Orderly was filmed at the Greystone Park and Mansion in Beverly Hills, California with costumes designed by Edith Head and its title song rendered by Sammy Davis, Jr.


The title song, sung over the opening credits, is performed by Sammy Davis, Jr. The title song "The Disorderly Orderly" was written by songwriter Earl Shuman.


While Howard Thompson of the New York Times (December 24, 1964) liked a few comedic bits and praised some secondary performers, he generally panned The Disorderly Orderly writing, "[The film] runs dry at the end of the first third — like a juiceless watermelon — and splits open, with about the same results."[3]

Home media

The film was released to Region 1 DVD on October 12, 2004.[4]

See also


  1. This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
  2. Box office information for film at Box Office Story
  3. New York Times: The Disorderly Orderly Retrieved August 2008.
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