Regarding Schlemiels, a category of person dear to my heart:
What about Jacques Tati's reception here? He is, of course popular among
academics, etc., but I wonder about his popularity among more "general"
audiences. Part of what translates so well, for me, at least, is his debt to
silent comedy, which translates well across cultures. Same with Bean.
There is something of this in early Jerry Lewis, too. I believe that folks'
dislike of him comes more from the fact that he's spent the last three
decades acting like a pompous ass. His early films are damn funny, if you
can get past the image of what he has become. I am beginning to sympathize
with the school of thought which says that the French are not strange for
liking Lewis, as much as they are for liking Woody Allen. It is an extreme
view, but there is something to it. Lewis-bashing, to my mind, has become a
knee-jerk reaction among the self-styled intelligentsia, as has
Allen-lionizing. Both attitudes need to be examined a little more.
A bit off the subject, but, I think, relevant: I've seen the same type of
knee-jerk condemnation on this list regarding Elizabeth Berkley's performance
in SHOWGIRLS. I would venture to say that comparing her acting style to her
nipples speaks of an attitude at least as execreble as that of
Eszterhaus/Verhoeven. Granted, her performance was shrill, but judging by
all the performances in that film, the blame must lie solely with the film's
makers. Eszterhaus' full-page ad in VARIETY taking responsibility for her
performance was probably the only honorable thing he's ever done.
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