Disorderly Orderly, The (1964)

“Please — try hard not to try so hard!”

Synopsis:
When an overly empathetic orderly (Jerry Lewis) in a sanitarium discovers that his former high school crush (Susan Oliver) is a new patient, he does what he can to help pay for her costs — despite her obvious disdain for him.

Genres:

Review:
Peary is clearly an enormous Jerry Lewis fan, given that he lists no less than fourteen of Lewis’s many films in Guide For the Film Fanatic; with that said, while The Disorderly Orderly does possess several amusing sequences and performances (see Redeeming Qualities and Moments below), it’s ultimately not must-see viewing for all film fanatics. The central premise of the story — that Lewis’s Jerome Littlefield is too empathetic for his own good — is a sweet one, and it’s genuinely difficult to fault his character for being too caring. On the other hand, the central romantic subplot involving Jerome’s long-standing crush on a bitchy, undeserving blonde (Oliver) wears thin really quickly, particularly given the existence of his caring, patient, pretty girlfriend (Karen Sharpe) on the side; we can’t help wanting to shake some sense into Lewis! Ultimately, The Disorderly Orderly is worth a look by those who enjoy his unique brand of slapstick humor; others, however, needn’t bother.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lewis’s reactions as hypochondriac Miss Fuzzibee (Alice Pearce) rants on and on about her various ailments: “I have the smallest, weakest kidneys in the hospital…”
  • Lewis attempting to fix the “snowy reception” on the TV set of a demanding patient (Barbara Nichols)
  • Kathleen Freeman as Nurse Higgins

Must See?
No, but it’s certainly a must for Jerry Lewis fans.

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One Response to “Disorderly Orderly, The (1964)”

  1. Not a must.

    As a budding ff, I saw all Jerry Lewis movies of the ’60s as they came out. (Not out of any particular devotion; I went to the movies every weekend.) For all I know, budding ffs today may find there’s enjoyment in these films. Myself, the only one I think holds up – and is a must for grown ffs as well – is ‘The Nutty Professor’ (more about that when the time comes).

    The odd thing about this film in particular is that all of the supporting cast come off better than Lewis; his shtick here is just too much of the ‘cry for help’ variety. (I esp. like, as noted, Alice Pearce’s delivery – her timing is impeccable.) The bottom line is this isn’t all that funny.

    The movie is produced well; as a crowd-pleaser, it looks slick. But I don’t think ‘goofy’ on its own has legs. Now, if it’s combined with something a little more inspired…as in, say, ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’…well, then you’re talking.

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