A Cinematic Hapax Legomenon: One More Time (1970)

In grammars the term hapax legomenon (Greek for “somepoint shelp once”) is used to denote a word that only provides a solitary appearance in the written document of an old language. One More Time (1970), through Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford as the leads, have the right to be viewed as something of a cinematic hapax legomenon, a one-off occasion in film background that was never to be repetitive. The film has a singular distinction: it is the only one of the 12 attribute films directed by Jerry Lewis in which he was not likewise the star.1 Nor, indeed, did Lewis write the script for the film – a rare however not distinctive phenomenon in Lewis’ œuvre 2 and Which Way to the Front? <1970> were attributed to various other writers, although Lewis’ influence on their storylines is undeniable>. In truth, One More Time was essentially a commissioned work: a sequel to the Rictough Donner-directed buddy comedy Salt & Pepper (1968), One More Time common the original film’s screenwriter (Michael Pertwee), and it currently barely rates a footnote in most discussions of Lewis’ work-related.

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The reasons for Lewis agreeing to straight this film are obscure – Lewis himself, in works such as The Total Film-Maker and Jerry Lewis in Person, continues to be tight-lipped around his experiences working on One More Time – however it deserve to not be excluded that opportunistic or mercenary considerations were a element. Lewis had actually not directed because 1967’s The Big Mouth, accepting acting functions on movies such as Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (Jerry Paris, 1968) and Hook, Line and Sinker (George Marshall, 1969), while finding the financing for his self-created Which Way to the Front? (1970), a film that, made nearly at the same time through One More Time, was evidently a lot closer to its director’s heart.

If the unfiniburned The Day the Clown Cried (1972) – which the filmmaker to now adamantly refsupplies to be publicly screened3 – is typically seen as Lewis’ film maudit, an alternative instance have the right to be made that One More Time is more aptly taken as his truly accursed work. After all, the concentration camp-comedy has come to be somepoint of a reason célèbre in the years given that it was shelved, interemainder in the film no doubt stoked by its “invisible” standing. One More Time screened extensively on release, and also is this day easy to track dvery own on DVD – however its fate has actually been the perhaps crueller among instrumental disregard. Very little at all has actually been composed on the film, and many kind of aficionados of Lewis find it difficult to allow it into his corpus.4 When the film ultimately made its French premiere at the Deauville festival in 1977, Louis Skorecki – otherwise an unconditional admirer of the comic – created in Cahiers du cinéma that it was a “failed film”, although he tempered this judgement via the auteurist axiom that “a failed Jerry Lewis film surpasses a successful Woody Allen film” bereason it “would certainly not exist without the desire for cinema that is at work-related in it.”5 More newly, the Austrian Film Museum, usually fastidious in its auteur-oriented completism, symptomatically refrained from screening One More Time in its 2013 Jerry Lewis retrospective. Writing in the catalogue for the series, Jonathan Rosenbaum encapsulated the prevailing sentiment on the film as soon as he asserted that, bereason “performance and writing” are “constantly at the centre of Lewis’ art,” he “can’t regard the 1970 One More Time <…> as a ‘Jerry Lewis’ film in the method that A Woman of Paris and also A Countess from Hong Kong are Charlie Chaplin films.6

A koan-like riddle outcomes from this logic: what is a Jerry Lewis film without Jerry Lewis? If his presence as a perprevious and his idiosyncratic approach to narrative structure are so integral to his authorial signature, have the right to a film which he neither writes nor percreates in truly be taken into consideration a “Jerry Lewis film”? Alternatively, can a Jerry Lewis film without Jerry Lewis indevelop us around Lewis as director? Shorn of the more overt facets that we associate via Lewis’ work-related – over all, his own body – One More Time is the just film whereby we have the right to judge whether his auteurist stamp (in regards to mise en scène, swarm construction, thematic continuities) exists in its own ideal, or whether it can only be read via the prism of his on-display visibility. For this reason, far from being actors external the Lewis pantheon, as a work that is his in name only, One More Time might in reality host the crucial to our knowledge of Jerry Lewis the filmmaker.


Indeed, tright here are a variety of angles through which One More Time can be integrated right into Lewis’ larger œuvre. Most strikingly, the themes of the double, of split identification and also recognition, which course with his work-related, are also in play in this film. Charlie Salt (Davis Jr.) and also Chris Pepper (Lawford), whose names invert their racial identities, are cshed friends who run a nightclub together in the Swinging London of the late 1960s. When the police rhelp their club, they are both presented with £500 fines, payable within a week. With nowright here else to revolve, Pepper entreats his politically powerful twin-brother Sydney to pay the fine, which he only agrees to execute on condition that they leave the UK. But Sydney is felled by an assassin attached to a diamond smuggling ring, and also Chris, confronted through the alternative of incarceration or exile, assumes the identity of his brother, allowing the remainder of the civilization – Charlie contained – to think that it is he that has actually passed away. A fake moustache and an archly posh accent are initially enough to hoodwink his friend, but once Charlie is invited to job-related at the Pepper castle, tell-tale indications arise. Gestures, taste in food and also drink, an aptitude for gin rummy all alert Charlie to the deception, but it is in the bedroom that his true identity is revealed: via Charlie eavesdropping by means of the castle’s intercom device, Chris, in flagrante delicto with the comely Miss Tomkins (Maggie Wright), utters his signature line: “You make me feel seventeenager aobtain.”

One More Time shares through many kind of of the movies directed by Lewis a fondness for a solitary actor playing multiple roles: below Lawford plays Chris Pepper, his brvarious other Sydney, Chris impersonating Sydney, and Lawford himself. But its affinities with Lewis’ broader œuvre additionally stretch back to previously in his career. It is tough to watch One More Time without seeing echoes of the Lewis & Martin double-act in the companionship between Salt and also Pepper, which at times even has actually sexual undertones. Lawford, as a suave, womanising sophisticate, is quickly calqued onto the Dean Martin persona, while Davis Jr., a naïve however good-natured outsider prone to accidents, is an noticeable cipher for Lewis himself – a trait that is emphasised by the plenty of moments in the film when the actor replicates Lewis’ trademark facial contortions. Far from being an anonymous commission-piece, then, One More Time might in reality be read as the the majority of autobiographical of Lewis’ films, a retrospective reflection on the job-related he did through Martin, that he calls, even 50 years after their separation, his “partner”. This is over all highlighted in Davis Jr’s lugubrious ode to solitude in the castle’s stairwell, a repetition of a similar number Lewis had performed in Cinderfella (Frank Tashlin, 1960).


If the plot description I provided previously sounds fairly conventional, this does not account for the many digressions, non sequiturs and also extfinished gag-sequences that are scattered throughout the film – one more aspect that betrays the Lewis touch. Explosions in the film have actually a Tashlinesque force to propel objects and also individuals long distances, while, in among One More Time’s a lot of memorable moments, Davis Jr. allows out a collection of incredible sneezes after taking a pinch of snuff from a doddering party-goer: the initially discharge obliteprices a cake being organized by a passer-by, while the second knocks over an entire room of guests at the soirée, who pick themselves up in a manner akin to the toppled suits of armour in The Errand Boy (1962). The film’s many effective gag, repetitive in Smorgasbord, pokes fun at the slowness through which the butler serves a lavish silver business meal to Salt and also Pepper: as he brings the plates to the patient duo seated at the castle’s elongated dinner table, a collection of shot/reverse-shots shows Lawford arising a pronounced stubble and Davis Jr’s hair turning grey. The surrealism of the sequence is additionally heightened in the first shot after the gag, which summarily efdeals with the physical transformations the two had undertaken.


The a lot of bizarre moment of the film, however, belongs to Charlie’s hallucination of a cellar covert behind a bookshelf in Pepper’s library (the Kama Sutra is used as a mystery door handle): making his means through the dark, he finds Hammer regulars Peter Cushing as Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, preparing to sacrifice a virgin. Similar to the “Miss Cartilage” scene in The Ladies Man (1961), the episode is a finish tonal divariation from the rest of the film, exemplifying Lewis’ taste for toying through spectatorial expectations of genre and also diegetic realism. In prefer fashion, the self-reflexive finishing of The Patsy is recurring at the conclusion of One More Time. Here, having actually pulled a prank on the supercilious inspector that had actually been tracking them throughout the film, Davis Jr. quips, in a recognition of the film’s standing as a sequel: “I can’t help but think they’re going to be in our next image. Shall we split?” to which Lawford responds: “Don’t you think we ought to finish this one first prior to we talk about the following one?” Whereas The Nutty Professor (1963) contained a nod to Warner Bros. cartoons with a title-card exclaiming ‘That’s all, folks!”, Lewis opts to cshed One More Time through the even more also even more succinct expression “That’s it!”

On a formal level, the film is likewise of interest for Lewis’ use of colour and set style. Fujiwara, indeed, has highlighted this aspect of One More Time in order to link it with Lewis’ other colour functions of the 1960s, seen as “exuberant films of colour stylisation” 7. Here, his taste for bold primary colours is accentuated by the De Luxe stock used for filming. Of specific note is the comparison between the rooms respectively populated by Salt and also Pepper: while the previous sleeps in an ornate wood-panelled chamber replete via antique furnishings, the latter’s garish lodgings are swathed in bideal oarray and yellow colour tones and also modern design schemes, which act as a visual countersuggest to the baroque design of the rest of the castle, and follow Lewis’ dictum that “The sets should be in bright colours, be luxurious, beautiful and also huge, and also be worth the price of the ticket.”8



Finally, the national politics of the film deserve mentioning: although One More Time presents itself as a vacuous caper farce, the interracial friendship in between Salt and also Pepper is charged through political definition. Everything about their backgrounds underscores their difference: whereas one was born into the English aristocracy, the other grew up on the highways of Harlem. The question of institutional racism, also, is not avoided by the film: the judge that sentences them is clearly more deferent to the wealthy white man, while a police officer investigating Pepper’s murder immediately suspects Salt when it is discovered that the victim was felled by an “African” poisoned dart. Regardless of their contrasting social origins, and the pervasive prejudice they have to challenge, Salt and also Pepper build a actual, heartfelt bond with each other, a rare sufficient phenomenon in a Britain that had actually simply heard Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech.9 Lewis is commonly seen as belonging on the right side of the political spectrum. His openly misogynist views and current assistance for Donald Trump are proof enough of this, and also his fondness for racial caricatures undeniably provides for uncomfortable viewing for present-day audiences. But at the dawn of the 1970s race was an worry plainly prepopulated the filmmaker: it does, after all, play a significant function in Which Way to the Front? and also The Day the Clown Cried. It is through the relatively unheralded One More Time, but, that he has actually made his a lot of unabashedly anti-racist film.

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One More Time (Jerry Lewis, UK 1970, 93min, colour)Director: Jerry LewisScript: Michael PertweeCinematography: Ernest W. StewardSound: Gerry TurnerMusic: Les ReedEditing: Bill ButlerCast: Sammy Davis Jr. (Charlie Salt), Peter Lawford (Chris Pepper/Sydney Pepper), Maggie Wappropriate (Miss Tomkins), Leslie Sands (Inspector Crock), John Wood (Figg), Sydney Arnold (Tombs), Edward Evans (Gordon), Percy Herbert (Mander), Dudley Sutton (Wilson), Esther Anderchild (Billie), Lucille Soong (Kim Lee), Peter Cushing (Frankenstein), Christopher Lee (Dracula).Producer: Milton Ebbins

One More time is screening as component of the ‘Jerry Lewis: The Total Filmmaker’ program at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival (28 July – 14 August 2016). Find out more and purchase tickets below.