Saturday, March 17, 2012
Midnight Clown Boy
1969 was the year that United Artists released John Schlesinger's groundbreaking Midnight Cowboy. It is hard to imagine that, this same year, Jerry Lewis appeared in movie theaters in Hook, Line and Sinker, a shambling exercise filled with comedy routines that were anything but groundbreaking. The following gopher routine dates back to silent films.
Even the film's title had been used before.
But Hook, Line and Sinker, no doubt the darkest film that Lewis ever made, did have elements that made it no less edgy than Midnight Cowboy. In ways, the films are a mirror image of each other.
Hook, Line and Sinker had male-bonding.
It had characters down and out in the cruel big city.
It delved into the seedy underbelly of bar life.
It had a horny, hustling anti-hero lip-locking with a buxom blonde.
It had a major character learning that he had contracted a fatal illness.
It revealed the character's struggle with his fatal illness.
It had the character's inevitable demise.
Actually, Lewis was still alive at the end, but he was about to undergo a dangerous surgical procedure before the final fade out.
It had a leading man with good grooming.
Okay, fine, Lewis' shaving routine borrows much of its comic business from a routine that W.C. Fields performed in 1934's It's a Gift. But, still, let's not be so quick to judge.