Monday, July 28, 2008

Hey, Laaady!

Jerry & Me, March 1995 (backstage at the Broadway production of Damn Yankees)

I am a Jerry Lewis fan. Big time. I can't explain it and I long ago stopped trying to rationalize it. It's just what is: my eyes are blue, I have ten toes, I love Jerry.

But it's not an unconditional love. Sometimes, he goes off the deep end, such as was the case with his ill-fated production of The Day the Clown Cried, a film about a clown in a Nazi death camp. Over lunch one day, mid-90s, fellow DC Comics editor Brian Augustyn and I were riffing on this and I noted that the only thing that could be more tasteless than Jerry’s efforts to do a concentration camp film would be his doing one about Hitler. And we were off to the races! One tasteless scene after another was thrown about and, first chance I got, I wrote not only several scenes in the form of a screenplay, but a 2,000 “essay” about the history of this lost screenplay. In it, Hitler is a well-meaning but bumbling world leader forced into a world war by an idiotic bellhop, played by Jerry. We even worked up a 1960s-era casting list for the film:

Cast of Characters
The Bellhop .................................... Jerry Lewis

Adolph Hitler ................................... Gale Gordon

Eva Braun .................................. Kathleen Freeman

Anna ................................. Anna Maria Alberghetti

Gohring ......................................... Jesse White

Himmler ....................................... Milton Fromme

Mussolini ........................................ Joe DiRita

Neville Chamberlain ........................... Peter Lawford

Winston Churchill ............................. Maurice Evans

FDR ............................................ Tony Randall

The Italian Ambassador .......................... Vito Scotti

French Premier Daladier.....................Franklin Pangborn

Emperor Hirohito.................................Jerry Lewis
Gohring’s Aide..................................Howard Morris

Josef Stalin .................................. Jerry Cologna


Below is perhaps the most tasteless thing I've ever written, following a scene in which Hitler has just had an argument with Eva Braun over her addiction to buying shoes:

HITLER’S BELLHOP
© 2008 Paul Kupperberg

INT. — THE LONG HALLWAY IN THE HOUSE — EVENING
Hitler is coming down the hallway, engrossed in the papers in his hands. Soldiers stand at attention along both sides of the corridor, rifles in hand.

HITLER
(muttering)
Mmm, yes... a good plan of attack would turn the tide of the war in Germany’s favor...! But I had best check the map. Now where did I put those maps...? Ahhh, yes...

(Hitler stops in front of the closet where the Bellhop had hidden all the hundreds of shoes which Hitler had ordered Eva Braun to get rid of.)

HITLER
... Of course, in the map closet. How positively silly of me.

Hitler opens the door...

... And is immediately and totally buried under an avalanche of women’s shoes. Every color and type of shoes. Thousands of them. They keep pouring out of the closet, far more shoes than could possibly have ever been jammed inside in the first place. Hitler is felled by the first wave, arms flailing, shouting, knocked down and covered. Several soldiers rush towards the growing mound of shoes to rescue their leader.

Finally, the avalanche slowing to a trickle, the soldiers succeed in fishing Hitler out of the pile, pulling him clumsily to his feet by his arms. He’s literally up to his chest in shoes.

HITLER
(doing a slow burn)
Oooohhh! Shoes...

Just as he succeeds in getting his footing, the dazed Hitler is hit on the top of the head by one last shoe that comes bouncing out of the closet. This staggers him and he almost goes down again, except for the soldiers, who catch him under his arms.

HITLER
(angry)
SHOES!

Enraged, Hitler shakes free of the soldiers’ helping hands and begins to kick at the thousands of shoes piled up all around him, sending them flying as he screams, losing all control.

HITLER
I have had enough of these shoes! I want them gone, do you hear me? I want the shoes to go... get them out of Germany! I never want to see another shoe in Germany as long as I live! Destroy them all! Destroy the shoes!

INT. — THE CORRIDOR
A game of “telephone” begins in the corridor as the nearest Soldier standing at attention turns his head to look at the next Soldier further down the corridor and relays Hitler’s message, and so on and so forth down the line with ever increasing FAST CUTS from Soldier to Soldier. This continues until it reaches the last Soldier in the line, who stands at attention at the door of Gohring’s office.

SOLDIER #1
Der Fuhrer wants to be rid of the shoes!

SOLDIER #2
Reichfuhrer Hitler orders the removal of the shoes!

SOLDIER #3
Der Fuhrer wants the shoes out of Germany!

SOLDIER #4
Destroy the shoes!

SOLDIER #5
Get rid of the shoes!

SOLDIER #6
Der Fuhrer hates the shoes!

SOLDIER #7
Herr Hitler would have the shoes destroyed!

SOLDIER #8
The shoes must be eliminated from the Reich!

SOLDIER #9
(slow, confused)
Get rid of the...what did he say? The...Jews? Oh well...!
(shouts down the corridor)
The Fuhrer demands the destruction of the Jews!

Soldier #10 stands outside Gohring’s office, and when he receives the word from Soldier #9, he flings open the door, shouting into the office. Seated at the reception desk there, guarding the door to Gohring’s inner sanctum, sits Gohring’s Aide.

SOLDIERS #10
(shouts)
Ja! Der Fuhrer orders the destruction of the Jews!

INT. — GOHRING’S AIDE’S OUTER OFFICE
Gohring’s Aide is caught by surprise by Soldier #10’s sudden and loud announcement, jumping out of his seat. Papers go flying as Aide almost falls from his chair.

GOHRING’S AIDE
(startled)
Der yoiks in himmel!
(recovers, hand to his chest)
You don’t hafta shout! Now, vhat vas dat message again, bubbie?

SOLDIER #10
(shouts)
Der Fuhrer orders the destruction of the Jews!

Gohring’s Aide repeats his previous jumping out of his seat in reaction to the shouting. Soldier #10 goes, closing the door behind him.

GOHRING’S AIDE
Dat boy’s got himself ein attitude prrrroblem!

Recovering, Gohring’s Aide straightens his uniform, smoothes his mussed hair, then steps up to Gohring’s door. He raps smartly on the door with his knuckles, then shakes his hand sharply, making a face because it hurts his knuckles. Without waiting for a reply, the Aide opens the door and enters the office.

INT. — GOHRING’S OFFICE
GOHRING’S AIDE
A message from our beloved Fuhrer, Herr Gohring!

GOHRING
Vas ist?

GOHRING’S AIDE
Der biggenbossen sends word he wants alles Jews in Germany destroyensplatt!

GOHRING
Destroyensplatt?!

GOHRING’S AIDE
Destroyensplatt!

GOHRING
Alles?

GOHRING’S AIDE
Alles!

GOHRING
Well, he is der Fuhrer, and if that’s what he wants...!
(shakes his head)
A shame, though.

GOHRING’S AIDE
Vhy ist dat, mein high und mighty ubermensch?

GOHRING
Well, some of my best friends are Jewish...!

Added: July 30, 2008, 1:03 P.M.:
The Adventures of Jerry Lewis © the respective copyright holders

Rob Kelly, friend of "And Then I Wrote..." (and proprietor of the fine Aquaman Shrine, listed in my links section) just emailed me: "Did you see, they found Jerry Lewis was carrying a gun in an airport? He read your piece and he's comin' for you!"

All I can say is: "I meant no harm!"

Thanks, Rob!

5 comments:

rob! said...

Kathleen Freeman as Eva Braun? Interesting. I could've seen Dorothy Provine, myself...

great piece. don't let Jerry see it because--well, you never know.

Paul Kupperberg said...

But Kathleen was in all Jerry's movies in those days! And I'm sure Jerry's used to being satirized by now.

rob! said...

"And I'm sure Jerry's used to being satirized by now."

no, i meant Jerry might want to get it made!

Paul Kupperberg said...

Heh! But it just wouldn't be the same without Gale Gordon...

Johnny Rizzo said...

Great shades of The Producers. I love it.