[VIDEO] REWIND: Jerry Lewis on Film Criticism; Pauline Kael

JERRY LEWIS: “Pauline Kael. She’s never said a good thing about me yet. That dirty old broad. But she’s probably the most qualified critic in the world. Cause she cares about film and those who are involved in it. I wish I could really rap her. But I can’t. Cause she’s very very competent. She’s knows what she’s talking about.”

editor-commen-deskEditor’s note: I stumbled upon this at Roger Ebert’s site while searching in vain for Pauline Kael’s 1974 New Yorker review of Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” – often referred to in lists of Kael’s most notorious “got it wrong” reviews. Because Chinatown (along with the Godfather series) sparked my interest in the 1970s  renaissance in American filmmaking, I watched and studied Chinatown endlessly, I’m particularly interested in Kael’s contrarian view of it. I haven’t found yet, it may not be online. So unless I track it down in one of Kael’s books – or a reader is kind enough to point me to it – I’ll have to simply enjoy the things I found instead of what I was originally looking for.

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Primarily, things other critics have said about Kael, and her book “I Lost it at the Movies”. In particular, this interview. On Ebert’s site I found this Jerry Lewis appearance on the Dick Caveat Show, and it’s marvelous! An unexpected show of admiration for film reviewers.

What impressed me is Jerry’s acceptance of even the harshest criticism of his movies, as long as the critic actually took the time to examine the work, and wrote a serious analysis of the movie he made. Otherwise, he had no patience for it. He wasn’t shy about writing letters to critics, to argue with them. He had no respect for critics that simply hated Jerry Lewis movies, but didn’t honestly engage the film. Lewis expressed admiration for reviewers that analyzed his work; even the worst reviews, he embraced, and found useful. I like how he uses the word examine. His professionalism is on display here, and it’s a pleasure to see it, in this archived interview.

 



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