Friday, December 18, 2009

VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET - Jerry Lewis (1960)

The incredibly hard to find "Visit To A Small Planet" was a broadway play written by the masterful author Gore Vidal! The theme music was written by the amazing composer Leigh Harline, who started his career way back in 1933 on the Walt Disney Silly Symphony cartoon short entitled "Father Noah's Ark" and wrote the score for Disney's "Pinocchio" and also "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" among a hoarde of other titles!

It's the perfect vehicle for the antics of Jerry Lewis, France's other American film hero besides Eddie Constantine!!

Because it was written as a play, the whole beginning of the film looks and feels like a 1960's TV sitcom with a lot of familiar TV faces!

Jerry, as Kreton comes to earth to explore and play around. Being a master of space and time, he was headed for the civil war era and dressed appropiately, but his calculations were off and he lands in the 1960's right when all these folks are getting ready to go to a costume party. Kreton elbows Lee Patrick as Rheba Spelding while daughter Ellen portrayed by Joan Blackman watches!

TV stalwart Gale Gordon is the nosey neighbor Bob Mayberry, and if he looks familiar, it's because Gale was Mr. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace TV show, and appeared in over 180 episodes of various Lucille Ball shows!

Fred Clark appears as Major Roger Putnam Spelding, another very familiar face who made a career of playing a cranky bald dude in everything from "Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb" to "F-Troop," "Petticoat Junction" and "The Beverly Hillbillies" and too much more! In this scene, Ellen's boyfriend Conrad played by Earl Holliman, not knowing Kreton is from another galaxy, decides to go to the costume party this year as a guy from outer space! Oh, the irony!!

This film is loaded with sexual innuendos. Where Kreton comes from, they no longer have any reason to procreate, so he is incredibly interested in watching how it's done, much to Ellen's chagrin! Among many other roles, the lovely Joan Blackman would marry Elvis in "Blue Hawaii!" Earl Holliman is unforgettable for his role as the cook in "Forbidden Planet" who gets Robby The Robot to make him booze, and also his 91 episodes in "Police Woman" as Lt. Bill Crowley, etc. etc. There's no end!!

John "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Williams as the overseer Delton, watches on as Major Spelding gives Kreton his first taste of that demon alcohol...and the not so surprising results!!!

Above Conrad's objections, Ellen takes Kreton to their favorite 'local' hangout, "The Hungry Brain." Kreton got 'dressed up' for the occasion, and he outweirds the weirdos!

The music starts swinging, but nobody's paying a whole lot of attention yet, in this crowd of beatniks, but this is the start of the reason why I love this movie so much!!

Wow, this cat's out of this world! Gene "Zorro" Collins and Kreton get inside of each other's heads! Other beatniks scattered throughout the crowd are Beach "Creature From The Haunted Sea" Dickerson, and Titus "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo" Moede, among others!!

The mind-blowing band consists of bassist Don Bagley, Frank Socolow on sax, Jack Costanzo on the bongos, and Buddy Rich on the trap set!!!

This still is a beyond cool portrait of The Man, Buddy Rich!!

Buddy Rich and Kreton have a drum duel with Kreton playing the bongos with his mind! I have an album of "Buddy Rich vs Gene Krupa" that works along the same lines!

Here's the crazy part, this whole scene is just starting to jive! Now it's time for Barbara Lawson as the nutzoid Desdemona to do her scat-singing thing!

Sounds pretty far out, but dancer Barbara only ever acted one other time, and that was in the same year on "The Millionaire" TV show!

The song that is bringing Kreton to tears is called "Desdemona's Lament" and was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Together, Pomus and Shuman wrote the words and music to the hits "Save The Last Dance For Me," "Suspicion," "Viva Las Vegas" and much more.

No, they're not done yet, now it's time for Kreton and Desdemona's big dance number choreographed by Miriam Nelson who also worked off and on for years on The Red Skelton Show! Now that makes sense!!! The music for this dance sequence is the ginchiest! It's totally gone!!

After all that, it's back to reality, Kreton falls for Ellen, but is stopped from kissing her as his protective shield is reversed by Delton, but his feelings are so strong, it breaks the barrier!

Which leaves him unprotected to attack by the likes of Conrad!!

Kreton ends up having to go back where he came from, and Rheba Spelding brings out a whole platter of chicken sandwiches for the people watching the send-off!

I've only given you a glimpse of the sights and sounds in this film, do whatever you can do, to find a copy, and ponder for yourself why it's not more readily available!! Thanx be to Los Oso Grande Ted for providing this copy!

8 comments:

RODAN! said...

Kreton standing on the ceiling after having a drink is priceless!! Titus and Beach, coool!... And, the chicken sandwich deal ain't bad either!

Dr. Mark Hill - The Doctor Of Pop Culture said...

I always felt this movie must have been the inspiration for MY FAVORITE MARTIAN. MARTIAN came to TV just a few years after this in 1963.

prof. grewbeard said...

saw this one as an infant, didn't remember anything about it except the saucer and, of course, Jerry in a silver suit! now that i know it has beatniks in it...

Greg Goodsell said...

I peened a review for this forgotten gem once:

The incomparable Jerry Lewis took Gore Vidal’s hoity-toity anti-war parable, threw everything away save the title and used it as a vehicle for his own overbearing and obnoxious personality. Lewis plays Kreton, a visitor from another world who ingratiates himself into a wealthy New England family. Lewis weaves in an out of traffic, cheerfully blackmails and threatens earthlings with annihilation, humiliates and degrades others with his alien superpowers, spies on the family’s daughter while she makes love to her boyfriend – in short, behaves like the REAL Jerry Lewis! There’s lots of slapstick and sci-fi special effects to entertain the kiddies, but the script has quite a few zingers for grownups. “Mars ... bare, barren, desolate! No one goes there anymore!” “Hey, maybe if they put in gambling –“ In sparkling black and white.

Frederick said...

I saw this on TV as a young teen while babysitting a neighbor's kid on Saturday night back in early 70's, and have good memories of it. Hope to find it on DVD some day!

Anonymous said...

This is now on Netflix streaming! Oh, that Desdemona. She's like with it. Woof.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Very Cool!! It's amazing how many formally impossible movies to find are now popping up streaming on Netflix! Good for them!!

Larry Bird said...

Great movie its on dvd here

http://www.classicmoviesandtvcom.com/product/visit-to-a-small-planet-dvd-jerry-lewis-1960

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