Cracking Up (1983 film)

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Cracking Up
Theatrical poster for Belgian release
T'es fou, Jerry ! (French title) [1]
Smorgasbord (original title)
Ben je gek, Jerry ? (Flemish title)
Directed by Jerry Lewis
Written byJerry Lewis
Bill Richmond
Produced byPeter Nelson
Arnold Orgolini
StarringJerry Lewis
Herb Edelman
Zane Buzby
Cinematography Gerald Finnerman
Edited by Gene Fowler Jr.
Music by Morton Stevens
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • April 13, 1983 (1983-04-13)(France)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office553,259 admissions (France) [2]

Cracking Up is a 1983 American comedy film directed by and starring Jerry Lewis, his last film as a director and last film for Warner Bros. Originally titled Smorgasbord, it was filmed in 1981 and 1982 and only received limited distribution in the United States. Lewis wrote the screenplay with Bill Richmond, his writing collaborator on films such as The Nutty Professor and The Patsy .


The film contains a series of short comic sketches, set pieces and blackout gags.


Warren Nefron is a klutz who cannot do anything right. He tells his problems to his psychiatrist, Dr. Pletchick. Through a series of flashbacks Nefron's life story is told. [3] [4] [5]

Warren is such a failure that even his many attempts to commit suicide fail. Dr. Pletchick cures Warren with hypnosis, but all of Nefron's problems get transferred to him as a result.

Warren and a young woman attend a film titled Smorgasbord (the film's original title).



Cracking Up includes many cameos, including those of Sammy Davis Jr., [7] Dick Butkus [8] and Milton Berle. [9] In December 1982 after filming completed, Lewis underwent triple-bypass heart surgery at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas.


The film was released theatrically in some European countries, such as France (where it was released on April 13, 1983 by Warner Bros.), Belgium and Italy. It was given a limited release in American theatres, after premiering on cable television and on videocassette. In May 1985, it was given a two-day run at New York's Thalia Theater [10] under its original title, double-billed with The King of Comedy . It later played a smattering of revival houses, art cinemas [11] and film festivals. The film was screened as part of the Jerry Lewis: The Total Filmmaker program at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival. [12] [13] [14]


In a contemporary review for The New York Times , critic Vincent Canby called the film "a mostly cold buffet of random Lewis routines in which the director-star falls off slippery furniture, cracks up automobiles, fails at suicide and can't even walk across the floor of his psychiatrist's office without taking a header." [10]

Home media

Warner Archive released the film on DVD on May 18, 2010. [15] [16] [17]

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  2. Jerry Lewis at Box Office Story
  3. Almanaque Virtual (20 August 2017). "Jerry Lewis em "Cracking Up - As Loucuras de Jerry Lewis" (1983)". Archived from the original on 2021-12-17 via YouTube.
  4. SoleilSmile (22 December 2010). "Jerry Lewis Jitterbug". Archived from the original on 2021-12-17 via YouTube.
  5. Melbourne International Film Festival (5 July 2016). "SMORGASBORD - Trailer". Archived from the original on 2021-12-17 via YouTube.
  6. "[The Daily] Jerry Lewis, 1926–2017".
  7. "Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Junior in the film Smorgasbord".
  8. "Smorgasbord - Publicity still of Jerry Lewis & Dick Butkus".
  9. "Smorgasbord - Publicity still of Milton Berle & Jerry Lewis".
  10. 1 2 "SCREEN: 'SMORGASBORD' OPENS". The New York Times. 17 May 1985.
  11. "Smorgasbord (Cracking Up). 1983. Directed by Jerry Lewis - MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art.
  12. "Melbourne International Film Festival 2017".
  13. "Melbourne International Film Festival - Archive 1952-2017".
  14. "Melbourne International Film Festival Picks for 2016". Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.
  15. "Smorgasbord (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Room Service". Turner Classic Movies.
  16. "Smorgasbord".
  17. "Smorgasbord - Publicity still of Jerry Lewis & Francine York".