Off the charts irrepressible, Jerry Lewis, a few days after his 90th birthday, took charge at his own Q&A at MoMA after a screening of his first movie in 18 years, Max Rose. From a script written by first time director Daniel Noah, who persisted through many rejections from those who think you cannot make money on a movie about old people, Max Rose finally got to Lewis who accepted the offer to star. And from the looks of their relationship onstage at MoMA, it was made in heaven. Not so for the moderator, critic David Kehr, who became the target of many Lewis jabs: "Are you going to hang around long?" Fortunately, Kehr had a sense of humor and a thick skin sitting through as Lewis interviewed himself.
Unlike many movie stars, even if it is the world premiere, Jerry Lewis sat through, and appreciated the warm reactions of this packed audience, that now, post-screening of this movie about a jazz musician whose wife of 65 years has died, was happy for a laugh. "Not doing comedy was tough," said Lewis. In fact, you rarely see this funny man crack a grin as Max Rose, but he does have some satisfaction finding out the truth about his wife (Claire Bloom) and a possible love affair (with Dean Stockwell). Of Mort Sahl who is also in the movie, Lewis quipped, "I never listen to his jokes." Soon the self-interview was opened up to the audience. When asked by an adoring fan, what was it like growing up in Newark, Lewis replied: "Would you like to hear about my briss?"
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.