Well, you can always watch the remake, “Life is Beautiful”
Some topics are so horrible and beyond comprehension that there is no ‘good way’ to talk about them that will leave all listeners feeling comfortable. Some of these topics still do need to be examined and acknowledged for contemplation. Jerry Lewis is/was first of all, an entertainer, later a director and producer. The motion picture was his mode of presenting his ideas. I have no doubt the movie is tasteless and caustically absurd, but, I don’t think he made it to be hurtful. Jerry knows this will always be a difficult point of history to admit we lived through. AT his age, he doesn’t want the backlash from people who don’t appreciate his technique of telling the story. Similar events of reluctant musicians playing Wagner for the Nazis did happen.
IMO this film would have slipped silently into the ether, had Michael Medved (the one and the same) not written about it in The Golden Turkey Awards way back in 1980.
Small wonder the french love Jerry Lewis...
Jerry Lee Lewis tackled Shakespeare, why not.
Let A Soldier Drink
Lust of the Blood
December 11, 2008
Whole Lotta Shakespeare Goin’ On
Bob Dylan has recently been championing a pair Jerry Lee Lewis tracks on his Theme Time Radio Hour with infectious enthusiasm, ending one recent spin with the comment, “You know, if anybody ever asks me why I do this radio show, I could just play them that - Jerry Lee Lewis singing Shakespeare. That’s what this show is all about.”
...In 1968 the inimitable producer/actor Jack Good (whose own life story is positively mind-blowing) embarked on one of his greatest passion projects, a musical version of Othello. He snagged one of the play’s lines for the title “Catch My Soul”: Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again. He then wrote his own version of the play, penned a slew of songs that cleverly played on the dialogue and themes, and gathered his musician friends (being the former producer of Shindig! helped) for hopes of a Broadway production. That didn’t work out, so he moved the show to a more rock-friendly environment - Los Angeles.
Rumor has it that Good was actually inspired to start working on Catch My Soul after seeing Lewis perform live in the late 50s. While casting for the play changed often during pre-production (at one point Othello was to be played by Rosey Greir) there was one role that was rock solid from the very beginning: Jerry Lee Lewis would be playing Othello’s treacherous friend Iago.
“This Shakespeare was really somethin’. I wonder what he woulda thought about my records” - Jerry Lee Lewis
Reviewers and fans were generally impressed with Lewis’ interpretation of the role - because he was basically playing himself. The writers at Moistworks summed up Jerry’s presence in the show nicely in a post last year, saying that
Jerry Lee stole the show. He prowled the stage, speaking Shakespeare’s poetry in perfect meter, but with no concern to conceal or even to temper his own Louisiana accent. The bright green-and-gold grand piano stood onstage throughout the play, and Jerry Lee not only sat at it to pump the songs that Ray Pohlman had written for him and for the seventeen-piece orchestra in the pit, but also to rake and hammer and tinkle in punctuation of his spoken lines, the most evil of Shakespeare’s imaginings. (He fooled with the lines occasionally, as on two evenings, coming upon the corpse of Roderigo in Act V, he howled “Great balls of fire! My friend, Roderigo!”)
...In 1974, Good brought the production to the big screen, with The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan directing. Released in some markets as “Santa Fe Satan”, the film was pretty much considered to be a holy mess. The movie did feature Richie Havens, Delaney & Bonnie, and Billy Joe Royal singing the Bard’s words, and in the only nod to Jerry Lee’s original breakthrough performance, the great Tony Joe White played Cassio as “a wino from Baton Rouge, Louisiana”, performing a new version of Jerry Lee/Iago’s drinking song.
He needs to start an annual Telethon over Memorial Day weekend to make up for this.