Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stage Actress Pat Stanley on working with Jerry Lewis in The Ladies' Man (1961)

Actress Pat Stanley on working with Jerry Lewis in his 1961 surreal comedy masterpiece, The Ladies' Man...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Could you tell me about how you came to be cast by Jerry Lewis in his 1961 film THE LADIES' MAN?

STANLEY:  I was on Broadway with another actress who also appeared in the film named Lynn Ross.   We were in Theorello at the time...

TV STORE ONLINE:   Right, and please correct me if I'm wrong--but didn't Jerry's production company or Paramount Studios have to pay that production of Theorello a few dollars in exchange for you being allowed to appear in THE LADIES' MAN?

STANLEY:  No, they didn't have to do that.   I had been with the show for a year and so when the offer came to me for THE LADIES' MAN I just left it.  I was ready to move on and try something new by that point.

TV STORE ONLINE:   So how did that work?  Did you have a agent at the time? Or were you sent out for an audition for the film or did they submit your resume and headshot for consideration...

  I'm not completely sure...What I remember now if that Jerry approached me directly and asked me if I wanted to be in the film with him.

  Yet, there is a screen-test with you on the recent DVD release of THE LADIES' MAN...

Right, but that wasn't done as an audition or anything like that. It was done as a sort of introduction.  I think what happened there was that Jerry did that with me so he could then take it to the powers that be at the studio...I remember that Jerry did come to see both Lynn and I in Theorello one night--because there was a buzz going around backstage that he was in the audience. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  But you had worked with Jerry prior in a roundabout way...

STANLEY:  Well, I had done a few things on The Colgate Comedy Hour prior to THE LADIES' MAN but we hadn't worked together directly in any capacity.    When he offered me the part in THE LADIES' MAN--he came to see me in Theorello and then called my agent.  Then I went to Los Angeles to shoot the film. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   What do you remember about shooting the film on that amazing dollhouse LADIES' MAN set at Paramount?

STANLEY:  Well, it was amazing.  He was playing Count Basie all the time and it was a big deal on the lot while we were shooting it.  We had a constant stream of visitors coming to see it.  The set was really interesting because Jerry had a basketball court set up off to the side of the soundstage.  Jerry would drive his car onto the soundstage and chase people around with it. It was crazy and fun.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I've read that Jerry would often brings all of the ladies in the movie gifts during the shooting...

STANLEY:  That was the way he was.  He was always very sweet.  He wanted everyone to have fun while they were working and be happy.  His favorite snack was Bologna and American Cheese together.  He didn't eat the bread.  He loved Coors Beer as well, and I was a beer lover and so almost everyday he would bring me a Coors Beer with bologna and cheese.   At the end of the shoot--there were a few of us that stayed out for a few days and Jerry took that time and we shot a Al Jolson number with Jerry as Jolson.  I also had a song that I sung in the movie--although it wasn't used.

This went on for about a week after we finished the shooting of the movie, and at the end of it--Jerry ended up making each of us a book with a bunch of photos from the shoot.    He also gave me at the end of the shooting--a beer dispenser.   It held a full barrel of beer and at the time--when it was delivered to my apartment in New York City--took up a large portion of it. (Laughing)   He was generous in that way though.  He did that for everyone he worked with. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   I've heard about many scenes that were shot that didn't make the final cut of the movie...I've heard about a sequence with you where the camera floats up-and-down throughout the entire set--one continuous shot--where it eventually ends up centering in on you as you're sitting on a couch reading a book...

STANLEY:  Yes! But what I was doing at the end of the shot was knitting actually.   What the camera did--I was placed on a rig in front of the camera on the Chapman crane and it carried me around in front of many of the rooms of the set before it ended.    There was a song that was being played in the background as it was carrying me around.   In the final shot--you were supposed to hear me singing the song in the movie but it was laid in via voice-over.  There were many scenes that Jerry and I shot together--but many of them were cut.  Most of them were just flirty little scenes.   His character tried to help mine in those scenes.  Jerry's whole thing with my character was his whole psychological take on relationships and I think what he was trying to do in those cut scenes was expound on those ideas.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you think you brought to that "Faye" character in THE LADIES' MAN that wasn't already there in the pages of the shooting script?

STANLEY:  I hope just my own experience of feeling lost and worrying about not being good enough.  Stanislavsky stuff...(Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that great awkward quality that Faye has in the film...Where do you think that came from?

STANLEY:  I just felt that she was uncool.  She wasn't like the other girls--but she wanted to be like the other girls in the house.   I thought that that was important to add to what was already in the script.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How much improv was Jerry allowing you in the character?

  There was a little bit of that going on.  I'd hardly say that there was much direction.  Anything like that consisted of Jerry and I going off to the side and talking together.   It was pretty loose and we went along with it to see where it would all go.   Jerry was concerned about my character--and I think that was because Faye was the female version of his own character in the movie.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love the speech that Faye gives at the end of the film...And what makes Jerry such a brilliant filmmaker is how he puts Faye in that bright colored shirt in the middle of a mess of girls who are wearing very dark colors...She is really a light in a darkness that is occurring in his character in the movie....

STANLEY:  Plus--Faye got to blossom too.  That came as a result of Jerry's character building Faye up over the course of the movie.  It allowed her to stand up and make Jerry's character feel good about himself in return... An interesting thing--Jerry had hired me to play a role in the movie that he was planning to do after THE LADIES' MAN.   For whatever reason though--the movie fell through and he didn't shoot it.  But, to Jerry's credit--he made the studio pay me my fee even though we never shot it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you remember about shooting that incredible musical sequence in THE LADIES' MAN--where the girls are all getting ready in the morning while dancing...

STANLEY:   That was fun.  It was all choreographed out.   It was like playing a piece of music together.   He felt that he was a conductor for that and he thought that it was important because it was our entry into the movie.  After we rehearsed it--we did it in just two takes.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung