“Please — try hard not to try so hard!”
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.
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
No, but it’s certainly a must for Jerry Lewis fans.