Hardly Working (1981)

PG | 89 mins | Comedy | 3 April 1981

Director:

Jerry Lewis

Cinematographer:

James Pergola

Editor:

Michael Luciano

Production Designer:

Don Ivey

Production Company:

Hardly Working
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HISTORY

The 3 Apr 1981 NYT review noted that the film opens with a series of clips from Jerry Lewis’ earlier movies. However, the titles and credits of those movies do not appear onscreen in Hardly Working.
       End credits include the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the following Companies and Individuals in the making of this film: Governor Robert Graham and The State Of Florida; Sid Levin, Florida Secretary of Commerce; Clay Shaw, Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale; Leo Calahan, Ft. Lauderdale Police Dept.; Palm Beach Economic Council; First National Bank of Palm Beach; Royal Trust Bank of Palm Beach, H. Loy Anderson, Jr., President; Jesse Newman, Palm Beach Coordinator; Robert Cuillo; Red Roman, West Palm Beach Post Office; U.S. Postal Service; Anheuser-Busch Inc.; Benihana of Tokyo; Dunkin’ Donuts; Nikon Cameras; Palm Aire Country Club; Quasar Company; Seven-up Bottling Co.; Ray Alburn; Vogue Motor Coaches.”
       The 30 Jan 1979 Var reported that actress Valerie Perrine was in negotiations for Hardly Working, but Perrine did not participate in the project.
       As tracked in articles in the 30 Jan 1979 Var and the 29 Apr 1979 NYT, Jerry Lewis was returning to film after an absence of almost a decade. Lewis’ last released film was Which Way To The Front (1970, see entry), while the 1972 film The Day the Clown Cried, which Lewis co-wrote, directed and starred in, was mired in legal problems and never released. Joseph Ford Proctor, a Florida-based developer/promoter, discovered co-screenwriter Michael Janover’s script of Hardly Working and approached Lewis, ... More Less

The 3 Apr 1981 NYT review noted that the film opens with a series of clips from Jerry Lewis’ earlier movies. However, the titles and credits of those movies do not appear onscreen in Hardly Working.
       End credits include the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the following Companies and Individuals in the making of this film: Governor Robert Graham and The State Of Florida; Sid Levin, Florida Secretary of Commerce; Clay Shaw, Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale; Leo Calahan, Ft. Lauderdale Police Dept.; Palm Beach Economic Council; First National Bank of Palm Beach; Royal Trust Bank of Palm Beach, H. Loy Anderson, Jr., President; Jesse Newman, Palm Beach Coordinator; Robert Cuillo; Red Roman, West Palm Beach Post Office; U.S. Postal Service; Anheuser-Busch Inc.; Benihana of Tokyo; Dunkin’ Donuts; Nikon Cameras; Palm Aire Country Club; Quasar Company; Seven-up Bottling Co.; Ray Alburn; Vogue Motor Coaches.”
       The 30 Jan 1979 Var reported that actress Valerie Perrine was in negotiations for Hardly Working, but Perrine did not participate in the project.
       As tracked in articles in the 30 Jan 1979 Var and the 29 Apr 1979 NYT, Jerry Lewis was returning to film after an absence of almost a decade. Lewis’ last released film was Which Way To The Front (1970, see entry), while the 1972 film The Day the Clown Cried, which Lewis co-wrote, directed and starred in, was mired in legal problems and never released. Joseph Ford Proctor, a Florida-based developer/promoter, discovered co-screenwriter Michael Janover’s script of Hardly Working and approached Lewis, who agreed to direct and star in the project. Lewis also worked with Janover to develop the script and received co-screenplay credit. Proctor, a first-time producer, created Gold Coast Productions to produce the film, and he convinced nine local investors to put in $100,000 to $750,000 each for the film’s $3 million budget. Additionally, Proctor negotiated twenty-eight promotional tie-ins for the feature. The NYT noted that Lewis was “half-owner” of the film and also placed his salary in escrow to show that he could bring the film in on time and budget.
       On 22 Feb 1979, DV announced the start of principal photography in Florida. Locations included West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The 11 Apr 1979 Var noted that the filmmakers had originally planned to focus on Palm Beach locations, but difficulties obtaining clearances during the height of the tourist season led them to shift most of the filming to Fort Lauderdale. The 12 Apr 1979 HR reported the film would finish principal photography the following day, on 13 Apr 1979.
       According to articles in the 11 Apr 1979 Var and the 29 Apr 1979 NYT, Lewis and Proctor announced their plans to work together on additional projects near the completion of principal photography, including a sequel to Hardly Working, which was tentatively titled Hardly Working Attacks Star Wars and was budgeted at $10 million. However, plans for the sequel quickly collapsed and the fate of Hardly Working became uncertain when Proctor faced financial difficulties in mid-1979. As tracked in articles in the 26 Sep 1979 Var, the 18 Mar 1981 Var, the 1 Apr 1981 Var and the Sep 1987 Box, Proctor’s Gold Coast Productions shut down when his “financial bubble burst,” and Proctor left the project. At that time, more than $1 million of the film’s money was reportedly missing and there was not enough left to complete the film. Florida Governor Robert Graham was instrumental in bringing “freelance troubleshooter” James J. McNamara to the project. McNamara signed on as producer and raised approximately $1 million for the film’s post-production. The 28 Feb 1980 HR noted that McNamara was head of HWC, Inc., a nine-man investment team, and Hardly Working was the first feature film venture for McNamara and HWC, Inc.
       Articles in the 27 Feb 1980 Var and the 28 Feb 1980 HR reported that Hardly Working was released in Europe before the producers looked for a domestic distributor. Producer McNamara stated it was part of a “careful plan” to demonstrate that Jerry Lewis was still a box-office draw, despite being absent from the screen for almost a decade. The film opened in 100 theaters in Germany in Feb 1980. The 29 Feb 1980 HR and the 5 Mar 1980 Var reported the film grossed $2,348,000 in its first seventeen days of release in Germany. The 23 Apr 1980 Var noted the film’s box-office gross in Germany had reached $4 million. The film premiered in France on 9 Apr 1980 and grossed $625,000 during its first week.
       According to the 1 Apr 1981 Var, Lewis altered the film for its domestic release, cutting twenty to twenty-two minutes from the European version. He also added a brief compilation of scenes from his previous films, opening and closing the film with this footage as a means of introducing himself to a younger audience.
       The 1 Apr 1980 HR reported that Arthur Manson’s Cinemax organization was signed as the “sales marketing producer’s representative” for the film’s domestic distribution. According to the 5 May 1981 NYT, Hardly Working had difficulty finding a domestic distributor. For almost a year, the film was turned down by several movie companies, including Paramount, Warner Bros., Columbia and Filmways, with Universal and United Artists refusing to even consider it. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. agreed to distribute the film when the producers put up half the money to test market it in two cities. The 26 Oct 1980 HR stated the two previews in Colorado Springs, CO, and Wichita, KS, were sold out and the audience was enthusiastic. The 18 Mar 1981 Var reported the official U.S. premiere would be 27 Mar 1981 in Palm Beach, FL. The 16 Mar 1981 HR announced Hardly Working would open in Los Angeles, CA, on 3 Apr 1981. The 7 Apr 1981 HR stated the film was released in 704 theaters and its three-day domestic box-office gross was $4,160,193. An item in the 10 Apr 1981 LAT noted the box-office gross had reached $5.3 million, and the 24 Apr 1981 DV reported that the film’s two-week domestic gross was $8,683,560. The 5 May 1981 NYT claimed the film had “weak legs” and its box-office grosses were dropping quickly after the surprising success of its first two weeks. However, the Sep 1987 Box reported the film became an unexpected hit in 1981, with a box-office gross of $24 million.
       The 24 Apr 1979 DV reported that John Beck filed a lawsuit against Jerry Lewis, Joseph Ford Proctor, and several others involved in the film. Beck claimed that he had submitted Hardly Working to Lewis in 1977, and had negotiated a deal with Gold Coast Productions to receive $100,000, profit participation, and screen credit as a producer. Allegedly, he was informed in Jan 1978 that he was not a producer on the film, and he did not receive any financial compensation. Beck filed for damages of $2.2 million on each of several counts. The outcome of this lawsuit could not be determined. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Sep 1987.
---
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1979.
---
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1979.
---
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1981
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1980
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1981
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
10 Apr 1981.
---
New York Times
29 Apr 1979
p. 1, 19.
New York Times
3 Apr 1981
p. 9.
New York Times
5 May 1981.
---
Variety
30 Jan 1979.
---
Variety
11 Apr 1979.
---
Variety
26 Sep 1979.
---
Variety
27 Feb 1980
p. 42, 46.
Variety
5 Mar 1980.
---
Variety
23 Apr 1980.
---
Variety
18 Mar 1981.
---
Variety
1 Apr 1981.
---
Variety
8 Apr 1981
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A James J. McNamara Presentation
A Jerry Lewis Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Still photog
Portrait photog
Crane op
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Laboratory
Laboratory
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst dec
Asst dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst propman
COSTUMES
Costumer
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst
Titles and opt
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Post prod exec
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Dial coach
V.P. pub and pub relations
Director's pub relations
Marketing supv
Marketing research
Promotions
Loc auditor
Mr. Lewis' asst
Mr. Lewis' secy
Prod secy
Set physician
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Honeywagon driver
Mr. Lewis' driver
Security supv
Craft service
Catering
STAND INS
Stuntman
Stand-in
Stand-in
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 April 1981
Premiere Information:
Palm Beach, FL premiere: 27 March 1981
Los Angeles and New York openings: 3 April 1981
Production Date:
22 February--13 April 1979 in Florida
Copyright Claimant:
Hardly Working, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
14 May 1981
Copyright Number:
PA102420
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
89
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Circus clown Bo Hooper entertains the Florida matinee crowd, including his sister, Claire Trent, and her two children. Afterward, the owner reveals the circus lost its funding and must close. Bo’s work experience is limited to clowning, but it is too late in the season to find work at another circus. He moves in with Claire and her disapproving husband, Robert, while looking for employment. Bo finds a job as a gas station attendant, and rushes outside when a beautiful blonde, Millie, drives in with her son, Peter. However, Bo’s attempts to service her car are a disaster. Gas overflows the tank, water pours out of the engine, and a tire explodes. Millie and Peter laugh, but the station owner is not amused and fires Bo. A job at a glass and mirror factory quickly ends in shattered glass. Claire arranges a job for Bo as a bartender, but the girls dancing on the bar distract him, and when he hugs one of the dancer’s legs, Bo is thrown out. A position as a table chef at an Asian restaurant ends with the customers attacking Bo. His work as a gift shop clerk is washed away when he opens a porthole window and water soaks his customer. Later, at dinner with Claire and Robert, Bo admits he is ready to settle down with a steady job, but claims he has not found the right opening. Robert contacts his friend, Ted Mitchell, a city councilman with connections at the United States Post Office. Bo is interviewed, tested, and ordered to report for orientation in two weeks. ... +


Circus clown Bo Hooper entertains the Florida matinee crowd, including his sister, Claire Trent, and her two children. Afterward, the owner reveals the circus lost its funding and must close. Bo’s work experience is limited to clowning, but it is too late in the season to find work at another circus. He moves in with Claire and her disapproving husband, Robert, while looking for employment. Bo finds a job as a gas station attendant, and rushes outside when a beautiful blonde, Millie, drives in with her son, Peter. However, Bo’s attempts to service her car are a disaster. Gas overflows the tank, water pours out of the engine, and a tire explodes. Millie and Peter laugh, but the station owner is not amused and fires Bo. A job at a glass and mirror factory quickly ends in shattered glass. Claire arranges a job for Bo as a bartender, but the girls dancing on the bar distract him, and when he hugs one of the dancer’s legs, Bo is thrown out. A position as a table chef at an Asian restaurant ends with the customers attacking Bo. His work as a gift shop clerk is washed away when he opens a porthole window and water soaks his customer. Later, at dinner with Claire and Robert, Bo admits he is ready to settle down with a steady job, but claims he has not found the right opening. Robert contacts his friend, Ted Mitchell, a city councilman with connections at the United States Post Office. Bo is interviewed, tested, and ordered to report for orientation in two weeks. Meanwhile, he looks for extra work to make his car payments. As he scans the newspaper outside a tennis court, Millie and her son, Peter, walk by. Smitten by Millie, Bo apologizes again for damaging her car, and tells her he is starting a good job at the post office. Millie is also happy to see Bo and admits she is a single mother. Later, Bo moonlights as a disc jockey at a nightclub, and on a break, he imagines that he is a disco dancer like the character “Tony Manero” in the film Saturday Night Fever. However, his boss is not a fan of Bo’s moves on the dance floor, and he is fired again. Bo reports for work at the post office and meets his boss, Frank Loucazi. As usual, Bo is klutzy, and knocks over paperwork. Frank warns that carriers are fired if they receive one hundred demerits, then introduces Bo to the floor manager, Claude, who assigns him to train with Steve. Bo immediately knocks over stacks of mail, and also has difficulty driving the postal truck as Steve attempts to train him. Later, Frank meets Millie outside and informs his daughter about the incompetent new trainee. She asks Frank to babysit Peter on Saturday night, but will not reveal her date’s name. On his date with Millie, Bo is klutzy, but also funny, and she finds his company enjoyable. At work, when Bo delivers a package to the Goodyear blimp, no one is on board, and he cannot resist the temptation to fly it. When Bo lands, he acts as if nothing unusual happened and walks past the crowd of police and spectators, but back at the office Frank yells at him. Later, when Millie picks Frank up for lunch, Bo returns to work and their two vehicles collide. Frank is furious to learn Millie is dating Bo, who is equally shocked to learn she is Frank’s daughter. Millie admits she did not tell her father about Bo because her ex-husband was a mail carrier, and now Frank does not want her to date postal workers. Frank gives Bo ten demerits, orders Bo to stay away from his daughter, and plans for the additional ninety demerits needed to fire Bo. Frank gives Bo the longest, hardest postal route, then tails Bo as he delivers the mail. When Bo crashes his truck into a lamp, Frank adds another demerit to the tally. Frank asks Ted, the city councilman responsible for Bo’s hiring, to join him on Bo’s carrier performance evaluation. To Frank’s dismay, Bo performs perfectly and Ted congratulates him. Bo admits his performance was weak at first, but compliments Frank for being a great boss. Steve also congratulates Bo on not acting like a clown during the evaluation, but Bo asks Steve not to use the word because he is no longer a clown. Later, Frank apologizes to Bo and asks him to telephone Millie, who admits she loves him. On Bo’s last day of probation, Claude asks Bo for a favor. Bo was unable to deliver a pair of rabbits because the owners had moved, and because there was no return address, Claude kept them at the post office and the rabbits multiplied. Bo agrees to handle the rabbits and asks for Steve’s help. Dressed as a clown, Bo delivers mail with Steve. A crowd gathers and follows them through town to a store parking lot. Millie and Frank also pull into the lot, and when Bo moves his postal truck, the two vehicles crash. Reporters surround them and Frank wants to fire Bo for violating the sanctity of the mail, but Bo insists he is quitting upon completion of his final delivery. Bo opens the truck door and dozens of rabbits hop out, to the delight of spectators and reporters. Later, Millie and Peter join Bo as he heads to his new job at the Ringling Bros. Clown College in Sarasota, Florida. +

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

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