The Family Jewels (1965) – an entertaining clean comedy
March 6, 2013 in I Luv Classic Movies
The Family Jewels is a 1965 American comedy film. The film was co-written, directed, and produced by Jerry Lewis who also played seven roles in the film. It was completed and released in three months flat.
Donna Peyton (Donna Butterworth) is a ten-year-old girl who inherits a $30,000,000 fortune when her millionaire industrialist father passes away. The terms of her father’s will stipulates that Donna must choose one of her six uncles to become her new father to take care of her and her fortune. Lewis plays all these six uncles’ roles and also as the family chauffeur Willard who is genuinely interested in the well being of Donna. He takes Donna to all of her uncles to stay with them for two weeks so that she can decide. The uncles are:
- James Peyton, a ferryboat captain; her father’s oldest brother who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
- Everett Peyton, a famous circus clown who hates kids and moves to Switzerland where he saved his money to avoid taxes.
- Julius Peyton, a professional photographer who photographs female models.
- Captain Edward “Eddie” Peyton, a pilot based in Los Angeles, California who owns his own airline (“Eddie’s Airways, the Airline for the Birds”) consisting of one plane, a Ford Trimotor.
- Skylark Peyton, a Holmesian detective who loves tea and lived in England until he lost his passport and moved back to the United States. He is accompanied by his faithful companion, Dr. Matson (Sebastian Cabot) but Skylark pays more attention to a pool game in Robert Strauss’s pool parlour than to Donna.
- Bugsy Peyton, a gangster who everyone thought was killed by the mob. Only interested in Donna’s inheritance, he kidnaps her. Willard rescues her by tricking the gangsters into believing they are surrounded by armed soldiers.
As she spends more time with her uncles, Donna realizes that her chauffeur Willard has always been a father to her since her real father was too busy to spend time with her when he was alive. Unexpectedly Uncle Everett appears at the last minute and Donna chooses to live with him since she recognizes him to be Willard.
This may not be the best movie to watch, but it is consistently entertaining throughout, given the funny characters of all the uncles ably enacted by Jerry Lewis. Jerry uses this excuse of seven uncles’ characters to show off his wonderful comedic talent.
Although the movie is antic and sentimental and seems to drag at a few spots, it provides good, nutty fun and clean laughter. Although not a classic worthy to be watched again and again, can be seen for the simple humour