The Nutty Professor (1963)

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Released 7-Aug-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Featurette-Paramount In The 50's Retrospective Featurette
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 103:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jerry Lewis
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Jerry Lewis
Stella Stevens
Del Moore
Kathleen Freeman
Henry Gibson
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Walter Scharf
Louis Y. Brown


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Norwegian
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, frequent
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film tells the familiar tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but with a slight twist. Julius Kelp is the traditional Absent-Minded Professor. His teaching qualities are fairly suspect and as is regularly the case, he has the habit of blowing up his classroom, along with the students and himself. Told again and again to refrain from carrying out his own dangerous experiments, the hapless Prof. Kelp can't seem to get anything right. This includes trying to get the attentions of the lovely student Stella Purdy (Stella StevensThe Poseidon Adventure: 1972) whom he is attracted to. While reflecting on his failings with the fairer sex along with just about all of his endeavours, our Nutty Professor comes up with an idea:  a formula to enhance himself both physically and psychologically. When Stella asks the professor to a night out with herself and other students, Prof. Kelp thinks this to be a perfect opportunity to try his newly completed formula. The results are astounding. Instead of the usual bumbling, stammering and stumbling loser he has always been, Professor Kelp is transformed into the personification of confidence, style and good looks. So transformed is he that no one at the club even recognizes him. Asked for his name, he invents a new one, Buddy Love.

    Soon Buddy Love is the talk of the campus and he is admired by both the male and female students of the college. Stella Purdy is attracted too, but seemingly in spite of herself. Although Buddy Love has become the new King of Cool, Stella is both drawn to and repulsed by Buddy. While Buddy Love is confident, he is also totally arrogant and brash. He takes what he wants and has little regard for what any might think. He knows that he'll sway everyone to his way of thinking, and so he acts accordingly. But the effect doesn't last forever and after a few hours the formula begins to wear off and the nerdish Professor Kelp begins to show through the bold Buddy Love exterior. Whenever this happens, Buddy runs away before his true identity is revealed.

    But the double identity can't continue forever and it all comes to a head when both Buddy Love and Professor Kelp are invited to the School Prom. Buddy, at the overwhelming vote of the students is to be part of the night's entertainment and Prof. Kelp as a chaperone. With the professor required by the school to be a chaperone for the evening, the dual personas are destined to clash, and do they ever!  But, the real question is - what will Stella think and who will she chose?

    This film was directed and co-written (with Bill Richmond) by Jerry Lewis and he does a good job with his own material. This film is the perfect star vehicle to showcase the comedic talents of Jerry Lewis with his unique brand of goofy physical comedy. This he does to great effect without the need for elaborate special effects that the film's 1996 remake (starring Eddie Murphy) so much depended on. The physical transformations that Jerry Lewis undergoes are, with the exception of prosthetic teeth, totally acted. Instead of the easier morphing technique which of course was not available to the filmmakers of 1963, Jerry Lewis has to become Buddy Love and revert back to Professor Kelp almost totally through good old-fashioned acting. This he does with complete competence. It is a real treat to see Lewis in what could almost be called a straight role, something he has done only a few times, such as in Martin Scorsese's classic The King of Comedy: 1983. As to the style of character that is Professor Kelp, Lewis plays him in the style generations of film-goers are familiar with:  nerdy, clumsy, nasal-voiced and nervous. All these traits he pushes to the limit to further contrast the film's two personas.

    It is amazing the amount of times that when this reviewer has mentioned the film The Nutty Professor that people automatically assume that I'm referring to the 1996 Eddie Murphy remake. Although it's been almost 40 years since this film was released, it surely must be regarded as the superior film with genuine acting and story over prosthetic appliances and scatological jokes. This film stands for many as the crowning achievement of Jerry Lewis. While it may not be quite as funny as some of the early buddy films with Dean Martin, it is probably the one that many will regard as Jerry Lewis's film career high point. If you have only seen the Eddie Murphy version, you really do owe it to yourself to see the original. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Despite the age of this film, the transfer to DVD is quite good with few major faults to negate the value of this disc.

    This film is presented on DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which varies slightly but acceptably from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image presented on this disc is quite sharp and focused with the exceptions of when a frosted or soft focus lens is used, particularly on actress Stella Stevens. Whenever she is on-screen, her image is purposely blurred (see 44:08 and 58:22). This is a common technique used in films of this era and is intended by the director. Shadow detail is quite good with, for example, detail in the darkened night club scenes easily made out. Low level noise is kept at bay even in dark scenes and also with images that consist of single colours.

    Although this film is about 40 years old, the colours are quite vibrant and don't seem to have faded with time. The print used for the transfer to DVD is very clean and the colours have a fresh vibrancy to them. Some of the colour use is fairly dated (some of Buddy Love's suits can only be described as "What The....?") but the quality is true and this film probably hasn't looked this good since it was released theatrically.

    The compression job done to this disc is quite good with macro blocking and pixelization kept out of sight throughout the presentation. Aliasing is a minor issue with this title and is largely absent with the notable exception of Buddy Love's striped suit that has so many thin lines that it is a sea of shimmering. This can be seen at 58:30 and any other time the suit is on-screen. There is some minor frame jumping to be seen during the feature such as at 8:49 where the whole frame seems to move up and down and also at 36:10 where the image jumps for just a slight moment. There are some slight light fluctuations visible during some scenes where a character may be standing in front of a solidly coloured wall. This looks to be a problem with the original film stock and doesn't have anything to do with the film's transfer to DVD. These minor artefacts are not overly distracting to the enjoyment of the film, but they are noticeable. Film artefacts are largely absent with only the very occasional nick and fleck evident.

    This disc offers several subtitle options with the English subtitles conveying as best as possible the meaning of the spoken word without being word for word. So much is conveyed in Jerry Lewis' voice while in the Professor Kelp role that subtitles will almost always come off a very second best which isn't so much an issue with those that don't use English as a first language as it is with those that are hard of hearing.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change taking place at 56:12 which is just a few seconds before the start of Chapter 9. An odd place for a layer change, but not overly disruptive to the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Presented on this disc is quite a good audio transfer with little negative to report.

    There are 5 audio tracks available on this DVD with all bar English being presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks. The English track is in Dolby Digital 5.1.

    The quality of the dialogue is very good with the spoken word easily understandable throughout this picture. There is what seems to be some fairly ordinary dialogue looping that is detectable during several scenes in this film  One major example is visible and audible between 71:12 and 72:35. Within this section of the film, the sound doesn't seem to quite match what looks to be spoken. Again, this is an artefact that doesn't destroy the mood or overall quality of the film, but it is noticeable.

    Music for the film is by Walter Scharf who provides a horn-oriented score that has a slightly dated sound but is totally in keeping with the tone and mood of the film. Louis Y. Brown provides the song "We've Got a World that Swings" which is performed by Buddy Love in the film.

    The surround channels provide the requisite amount of atmosphere without being overly active. The presentation is more akin to a matrixed surround sound mix rather than a full-blown discrete 5.1 mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    This disc starts up in the traditional Paramount style of language selection first. After the language selection and copyright warnings, we are taken directly to the start of the film. To access the disc's menu you must select the menu key on the DVD player's remote. This will take you the main menu which offers you the following options:     This menu features Professor Kelp mixing chemicals with a gleeful look on his face. This menu is presented silent, static and with 16x9 enhancement.

    The Audio Options menu offers the 5 languages available, these being:

    This menu is science themed with molecular equations and chemical formulas in the background and the periodic table at the top. A dancing Professor Kelp image is located on the left side of the screen. This menu is presented static, silent and 16x9 enhanced.

    The Subtitle menu is styled in the same manner as the Audio Options menu with all the above language options listed with the addition of Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Turkish. The menu is static and without audio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The Special Features menu is themed as the other menus are with the image being of a cowering Professor Kelp being stood over by one of his students. The option available on this menu is:

"Paramount in the 50's", Retrospective Featurette:  9:09

    This is a short and sweet mini-documentary highlighting the many films that were produced by Paramount Pictures in the 1950s. This contains only a little interesting information and is offered for novelty value only. It is presented full frame with no 16x9 enhancement. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    The Special Features menu is presented static, silent and is 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 discs seem to be almost identical (bar the PAL transfer and extra language options available on the R4 disc) with little difference between the 2 versions. All the little extras available for us in R4 (including the additional languages and the PAL transfer) along with added affordability would lead one to conclude that the R4 is the version of choice.

Summary

    Some will consider this film the supreme contribution from comic legend Jerry Lewis. It will probably be the one film that he is remembered for. For those who have only seen the perpetual scatological joke that is the 1996 remake, this is really a must-see. Not as funny as some of the Dean Martin / Jerry Lewis films of the late 40s and throughout the 50s, but memorable nonetheless. Recommended.

    The video is quite good with no major flaws visible. A very clean print for its age.

    The audio is workable with a ProLogic-like 5.1 mix available.

    The extras are almost nonexistent with only a promotional video clip available.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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