|THE JOKER IS WILD (director: Charles Vidor; screenwriter: Oscar Saul/biography “The Story of Joe E. Lewis” by Art Cohn; cinematographer: Daniel L. Fapp; editor: Everett Douglas; music: Walter Scharf ; cast: Frank Sinatra (Joe E. Lewis), Mitzi Gaynor (Martha Stewart), Jeanne Crain (Letty Page), Eddie Albert (Austin Mack), Beverly Garland (Cassie Mack), Jackie Coogan (Swifty Morgan). Sophie Tucker (Herself); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel J. Briskin; Paramount; 1957)|
|"Frank Sinatra is well-cast
playing the comedian."
by Dennis Schwartz
Joker is Wild is based on Art Cohn's biography of
the Prohibition era Chicago-based night-club singer
and comic Joe E. Lewis. In the 1930s Lewis loses his
voice after viciously attacked by gangsters for
singing at another club when told not to by his
current mob-connected night-club boss. Thereby he
becomes solely a comedian.
glum showbiz biopic tells of Lewis' troubled life,
his two marriages, his gang connections and his
losing battle with alcohol. Frank Sinatra is
well-cast playing the comedian. The
Oscar®-winning song "All the Way," written by Sammy
Cahn, became part of Frank's regular
repertoire. Director Charles Vidor ("Gilda"/"Farewell
to Arms"/"Song Without End") keeps things gloomy and
overlong. Oscar Saul's script meanders all over the
Windy City mob scene while trying to tell its
bittersweet tale about its flawed Hollywood subject.
recreates the atmosphere of the period accurately.
Sinatra, even though not sounding or looking like
Lewis, does an outstanding job making his character
Albert plays the long-time Lewis intimate and
his piano player. Jeanne Crain and
Mitzi Gaynor play the wives of Lewis--the
debutante wife number one and dancer wife number two.
me, just catching a whiff of Sophie Tucker onscreen
made it worth seeing.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ