CinderFella (1960)

88 or 91 mins | Comedy | December 1960

Director:

Frank Tashlin

Writer:

Frank Tashlin

Producer:

Jerry Lewis

Cinematographer:

Haskell Boggs

Editor:

Arthur Schmidt

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Henry Bumstead
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HISTORY

The opening credits, which begin after the sequence in which the will of “Fella’s” father is read, appear over scenes of Fella preparing breakfast for his stepmother, “Emily Kingston.” Jerry Lewis’ first onscreen credit reads: “Jerry Lewis as CinderFella.” During the kitchen sequence, there is a gag in which Fella calls out for the morning newspaper and it is tossed to him through the open window. The picture ends with the written statement "And they lived happily ever after." In the film, the character “Princess Charmein” is also referred to verbally and in writing as “Princess Charming.”
       According to a 20 Jul 1959 HR news item, producer Walt Disney filed a protest with the MPAA Title Bureau over the use of the title CinderFella , claiming that it was too close to his hit 1950 animated film Cinderella (see entry). On 11 Nov 1959, HR announced that Disney had withdrawn his protest, after deciding that Paramount’s use of the title “would not be too damaging” to his eventual re-release of Cinderella .
       According to information in the Paramount Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, in 1953 Cy Howard wrote a script for Lewis and his then-partner, Dean Martin, entitled Martin and Lewis in Paris . The scenario depicted Lewis as the poor, beleaguered stepbrother of Martin and featured several of the gags that appeared in CinderFella , such as the very long, formal dining room table. The idea was apparently discarded after Martin and Lewis broke up, although after CinderFella was produced, Howard claimed that elements of the released picture had been ... More Less

The opening credits, which begin after the sequence in which the will of “Fella’s” father is read, appear over scenes of Fella preparing breakfast for his stepmother, “Emily Kingston.” Jerry Lewis’ first onscreen credit reads: “Jerry Lewis as CinderFella.” During the kitchen sequence, there is a gag in which Fella calls out for the morning newspaper and it is tossed to him through the open window. The picture ends with the written statement "And they lived happily ever after." In the film, the character “Princess Charmein” is also referred to verbally and in writing as “Princess Charming.”
       According to a 20 Jul 1959 HR news item, producer Walt Disney filed a protest with the MPAA Title Bureau over the use of the title CinderFella , claiming that it was too close to his hit 1950 animated film Cinderella (see entry). On 11 Nov 1959, HR announced that Disney had withdrawn his protest, after deciding that Paramount’s use of the title “would not be too damaging” to his eventual re-release of Cinderella .
       According to information in the Paramount Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, in 1953 Cy Howard wrote a script for Lewis and his then-partner, Dean Martin, entitled Martin and Lewis in Paris . The scenario depicted Lewis as the poor, beleaguered stepbrother of Martin and featured several of the gags that appeared in CinderFella , such as the very long, formal dining room table. The idea was apparently discarded after Martin and Lewis broke up, although after CinderFella was produced, Howard claimed that elements of the released picture had been taken from his original story. In Jun 1961, he filed suit against Lewis, writer-director Frank Tashlin, Paramount and Lewis’ production company, stating that his story, the rights to which had reverted to him in 1960, had been “unlawfully used” in CinderFella . In Jan 1962, DV reported that the suit had been settled for an undisclosed sum. The Paramount files also reveal that Joe Besser and Harry Crane were engaged to work on the CinderFella script, but according to a 10 Nov 1959 internal memo, neither of them “wrote a line of dialogue” nor contributed to the finished film in any way.
       As noted by 1959 HR news items, Erin O’Brien was originally cast as “Princess Charmein,” but when production on the film was delayed, she was forced to leave the role due to other commitments. According to one modern source, Lewis had also been interested in casting Grace Kelly, who had retired from the screen in 1956 after her marriage to Prince Ranier of Monaco, as Princess Charmein. A 21 Aug 1959 entry in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column announced that Lewis was seeking Michael Dante to play one of the wicked stepbrothers.
       Information in the Paramount Collection, located at the AMPAS Library, reveals that Alan Reed was cast as “Roland Kingston,” Fella’s father, and Barry Gordon was to play Fella at the age of eleven. A sequence of Roland and the younger Fella at play being interrupted by the butler (played by Milton Frome) as he announces the arrival of Emily and her two sons, “Rupert” and “Maximilian,” was shot but then cut before the film’s release. Also filmed but edited out was a beginning sequence in which the adult Fella, Rupert and Maximilian wrestle in a home gym.
       The metamorphosis sequence, in which the “Fairy Godfather” transforms Fella for his appearance at the ball, was shot as a large production number featuring the song “I’m Going to the Ball,” according to studio records. Actresses Francesca Bellini, Joi Lansing, Barbara Luna, Frances McHale and Darlene Tompkins appeared in the number, but it also was cut before the picture’s final release. Dody Heath may have been signed for the scene also, but was “released” before production began, according to a Sep 1959 HR news item, which noted that Whitney Blake was tested for the same “dream sequence.” The Paramount files add that Sterling Holloway and Gil Lamb were considered for the role of the chauffeur. In the released picture, Fella’s transformation is neither shown nor explained until he is rushing home, and his golden limousine changes back into his bicycle, and the chauffeur changes back into a goldfish. [Several reviews noted that the picture appeared to have been edited severely, with HR calling it “spotty, as if some transitional scenes had been dropped in the final version,” and the Filmfacts review reporting that Paramount listed the preview running time as 99 minutes. The Copyright Catalog also lists a running time of 99 minutes for the picture.]
       According to the CBCS, Nick Castle, who staged the picture’s musical numbers, was to appear in the cast as a choreographer, but his scenes were also cut from the released film. Studio records indicate that Sherry Britton was signed to play a “pixie pal” of the Fairy Godfather, but she does not appear in the completed picture. A modern source includes Kathie Browne in the cast. According to modern sources, the instrumental song “The Princess Waltz,” written by Walter Scharf, had lyrics added by Harry Warren for exploitation purposes. Contemporary sources frequently credit the song to Harry Warren and Jack Brooks, however.
       According to studio records, the mansion used for the film was the Arnold Kirkeby Estate in Bel Air, CA, which was later used as the exterior set for the television series The Beverly Hillbillies . The polo and golf sequences of CinderFella were shot on location at the Will Rogers State Historic Park near Santa Monica, CA. Some “lawn and gully” sequences were shot at Holmby Park, while the late night sequence in which Fella races home after the ball was shot on the streets of Beverly Hills. The ball sequences themselves were filmed on a Paramount soundstage, and according to a 7 Dec 1959 HR news item, Lewis collapsed on the set from “overexertion” after several rehearsals of the scene in which he had to run up the extremely long and steep flight of stairs.
       As noted by several modern sources, including an interview with Lewis on the film’s 2004 DVD release, Paramount decided to distribute CinderFella in the summer of 1960, even though Lewis had made it with the specific intention of it being a Christmas release. When Lewis protested, the studio agreed to keep the original release date if he provided another film for them to distribute during the summer. Lewis then made The Bellboy , his feature film directorial debut, while he was performing at the Hotel Fountainebleu in Miami Beach, FL (see above). The Bellboy was finished in record time and CinderFella was released in Dec 1960, as Lewis wanted. CinderFella marked the first film by Lewis’ recently organized, independent production company, the Jerry Lewis Pictures Corp. As with Lewis’ earlier company, York Pictures Corp., he shared production costs with Paramount, which continued to distribute his films.
       The film’s gala premiere at Chicago’s Woods Theatre on 22 Nov 1960 was a benefit for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, an organization for which Lewis continued to be a spokesperson for more than forty-five years. When the film opened to the public the following morning, Lewis worked as the theater cashier and sold tickets to the first 1,000 patrons. Although the picture received lukewarm reviews, it performed well at the box office. Although a 22 Nov 1960 item in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column, noted that the poster artwork for the film was drawn by Norman Rockwell and that he had not created artwork for a film since the 1945 Twentieth Century-Fox production Song of Bernadette , in fact Rockwell designed posters for Along Came Jones (1945) and The Razor's Edge (1946), both of which were released after Song of Bernadette (see entries). In a modern interview, Lewis claimed that he paid Rockwell $50,000 for the painting, which is still displayed in his home.
       An 18 Nov 1959 HR news item noted that Lewis had signed Tashlin to collaborate with him on a series of “adult fairy tales” similar to CinderFella . They intended to produce comic versions of Robinson Crusoe , Gulliver’s Travels and “Rumpelstilskin,” according to the news item, but none of the films were produced. According to a 28 Oct 1960 HR news item, Lewis signed noted singer Anna Maria Alberghetti to a two-picture contract. The pair did not make any other films together, however, and although Alberghetti made frequent television and stage appearances after her work in CinderFella , she did not appear in another feature film until the 2001 production Friends and Family . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Nov 1960.
---
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1960
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1962.
---
Film Daily
23 Nov 1960
p. 6.
Filmfacts
1960
pp. 329-30.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1959
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1959
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1959
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1959
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 1959
p. 1, 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 1959
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1959
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1959
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1959
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1960
pp. 5-7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1960
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1960
pp. 5-10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1961.
---
LAMirror-News
15 Dec 1960.
---
Limelight
17 Nov 1960
p. 4, 6.
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Nov 1960
p. 932.
New York Times
17 Dec 1960
p. 19.
Variety
23 Nov 1960
p. 3.
Variety
28 Jun 1961.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Dance props
Prop shop
Painter
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Men's ward
Men's ward
Cost
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus scored and cond
Mus adv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
Asst dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Body makeup
Hair style supv
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Dial dir
Tech adv
Unit casting dir
Prod's secy
STAND INS
Jerry Lewis' double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the fairy tale "Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre" by Charles Perrault in Histoires et contes du temps passé, avec moralities (Paris, 1697).
MUSIC
"The Princess Waltz" by Walter Scharf
"Cute" by Neal Hefti and Stanley Styne.
SONGS
"Somebody," "Let Me Be a People (Plain Old Me)" and "The Other Fella (A Soliloquy)," music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks.
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1960
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Chicago: 22 November 1960
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1960
New York opening: 16 December 1959
Production Date:
19 October--15 December 1959
addl seq 7 September 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Jerry Lewis Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 November 1960
Copyright Number:
LP17716
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
88 or 91
Length(in feet):
7,903
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19477
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When wealthy Roland Kingston dies, he leaves his estate to his wife Emily and asks her to care for Fella, his young son by his first marriage. Years later, the adult Fella has become a slavey in the Kingston household, while Emily lavishes attention on Rupert and Maximilian, her sons from her first marriage. The bumbling Fella loves his overbearing stepmother and snobbish stepbrothers despite their cruel treatment of him, and is always cheerful. One day, after Emily informs Fella that they will be having a special houseguest, Fella cleans the swimming pool. There, he is only mildly surprised to find a gentlemanly stranger floating about in a rubber raft. The gentleman, who, unknown to Fella, is his Fairy Godfather, is bemused when Fella explains that he is a “people,” and that “persons” are people who have been transformed by becoming rich and famous. After Fella states that he feels sorry for persons and never wants to be one, preferring to remain an “ordinary guy,” his Godfather is impressed by his sincerity. Soon after, Fella learns that Emily’s houseguest is to be Princess Charmein of the Grand Duchy of Monrovia. That evening, when Fella tells Emily, Rupert and Maximilian about the visit from the stranger, who disappeared as suddenly as he appeared, they worry that the princess will think that insanity runs in their family. Fella stubbornly maintains that he saw the man, and also that his nightly dreams in which his father tries to tell him the location of his hidden fortune, are real. Fella always wakes up before his father can reveal the exact location, however. ... +


When wealthy Roland Kingston dies, he leaves his estate to his wife Emily and asks her to care for Fella, his young son by his first marriage. Years later, the adult Fella has become a slavey in the Kingston household, while Emily lavishes attention on Rupert and Maximilian, her sons from her first marriage. The bumbling Fella loves his overbearing stepmother and snobbish stepbrothers despite their cruel treatment of him, and is always cheerful. One day, after Emily informs Fella that they will be having a special houseguest, Fella cleans the swimming pool. There, he is only mildly surprised to find a gentlemanly stranger floating about in a rubber raft. The gentleman, who, unknown to Fella, is his Fairy Godfather, is bemused when Fella explains that he is a “people,” and that “persons” are people who have been transformed by becoming rich and famous. After Fella states that he feels sorry for persons and never wants to be one, preferring to remain an “ordinary guy,” his Godfather is impressed by his sincerity. Soon after, Fella learns that Emily’s houseguest is to be Princess Charmein of the Grand Duchy of Monrovia. That evening, when Fella tells Emily, Rupert and Maximilian about the visit from the stranger, who disappeared as suddenly as he appeared, they worry that the princess will think that insanity runs in their family. Fella stubbornly maintains that he saw the man, and also that his nightly dreams in which his father tries to tell him the location of his hidden fortune, are real. Fella always wakes up before his father can reveal the exact location, however. When Fella leaves, Emily tells her sons that Roland did hide a treasure for him. The boys are worried that Emily’s spending on the princess will bankrupt them, although she assures them that their problems will be solved if the womanizing Rupert marries Charmein. Rather than leave their fate in Rupert’s hands, Maximilian suggests that they ingratiate themselves with Fella and learn his secret about where his father's money is hidden. Emily agrees and during dinner, their unusual attentions thrill Fella, especially when his stepbrothers invite him to play sports the next day. As Rupert and Maximilian have schemed, Fella is so exhausted by the exercise that he falls asleep immediately afterward and talks aloud as he dreams of his father. The brothers eavesdrop as Fella follows his father’s directions to the money, but Fella’s dream instructs him to shove them off the roof instead. The next day, Fella, locked in his attic room during Charmein’s arrival, is amazed when his Fairy Godfather materializes and explains who he is. The Godfather is unable to convince Fella at first, especially when he claims that he was in charge of Cinderella’s “case.” To prove his assertion, the Godfather summons the lovely Cinderella. After Cinderella disappears, Fella swears his belief in the Godfather, who then explains that Fella has been chosen to right the wrongs caused by Cinderella’s legend. The Godfather notes that for centuries, women have been awaiting a Prince Charming, and when he does not appear, they marry the first available man, then nag him incessantly because he does not measure up to their ideals. Fella has been chosen to marry Charmein, thereby giving married men the opportunity to tell their wives that if any ordinary guy can marry a princess, the wives should be happy that their husbands chose them. Later, Fella and the Godfather sneak up to the patio where Charmein and Rupert are dancing. After Fella crawls forward to take a closer look at his future wife, Rupert inadvertently steps on his fingers. Fella screams, but the noise is masked by a yell from Emily, who has been spying on the couple from a balcony and is now in danger of falling off it. Maximilian saves his mother from falling but then tumbles himself into the goldfish pond below. As Rupert helps Maximilian, Charmein is startled by Fella’s disheveled appearance, but Fella runs away before she can learn his identity. Later, as Emily, Rupert and Maximilian prepare for the ball they are hosting for Charmein, they see Fella wearing his father’s oversized tuxedo. When Fella states that he is going to alter the tuxedo for the ball, Emily snaps that he is not invited and orders him to return the suit to the cellar. Fella complies but as he tends to the furnace, angrily declares that he is tired of being a nice guy and longs to be a “person.” The Godfather appears and reprimands Fella for his lack of faith, then tells him that they have much work to do. Meanwhile, at the ball, Rupert monopolizes the princess until the appearance of Count Basie and his band, which draws the jazz-loving Charmein to the bandstand. As she is enjoying the music, she gazes at the grand staircase, down which the dapper Fella is strutting. Fella, who has been aged slightly by the Godfather to disguise him, sweeps Charmein onto the floor for an exuberant dance, and the couple falls in love. While waltzing, however, Fella confesses to Charmein that he is a “phony” and, hearing the clock beginning to strike midnight, panics and runs off. As Charmein clutches one of his loafers, which has fallen off his foot, Fella dashes to his fabulous, golden car. On the drive home, Fella urges the gold-colored chauffeur to hurry, for if they do not return before the last stroke of midnight, the car will transform back into Fella’s bicycle, and the silent chauffeur will become a goldfish. Although the transformation takes place, and Fella is again wearing his father’s tuxedo, which the Godfather had magically changed into his glorious ball clothes, Fella succeeds in returning the goldfish to his pond. Fella is surprised by Maximilian, who recognized him at the ball, and, now believing that Fella must be rich in order to afford his clothes, demands that he reveal the location of his father’s money. When Maximilian threatens him, Fella, emboldened by his love for Charmein, reveals that he has always known where the money is, then tugs a tree limb. A massive fortune in coins then spills forth from a knothole in the tree, knocking Maximilian unconscious. Soon after, Emily and her sons, now penniless, prepare to leave the mansion, but Fella presents them with his money and tells them that they no longer have to be bothered with his presence. Touched by Fella’s nobility, Emily apologizes to him and prevents Rupert and Maximilian from pocketing the cash. As Fella begins to ride away on his bicycle, he is approached by Charmein, who reveals that she has his shoe. Although the princess confesses her love for him, Fella insists that their relationship could not work because she is a “person,” while he is a “people.” The tearful princess rips her dress to show that she looks like an ordinary girl when in regular clothes, but Fella rides off alone. As she slowly walks up the driveway, Charmein turns back and sees Fella returning to her. Taking her in his arms, Fella waltzes with her into the ballroom, and they dance as balloons and confetti fill the air. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.