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The Nutty Professor (1963) is a Paramount Pictures feature film produced, directed, co-written (with Bill Richmond) and starring Jerry Lewis. The score was composed by Walter Scharf.

In 2004, The Nutty Professor was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


Professor Julius Kelp (Lewis), is a nerdy, unkempt, buck-toothed, introverted, socially inept university professor who always incurs the wrath of the university administration by continually destroying the classroom laboratory. When a football-playing bully humiliates him, Kelp invents a serum that turns him into the handsome, extremely smooth, cool, and obnoxious girl-chasing hipster, Buddy Love. (Lewis said that the two represented good and evil.)

This newfound persona gives him the confidence to pursue one of his students, Stella Purdy (Stella Stevens). At first she despises Love, but she finds herself strangely attracted to him. Buddy wows the crowd with his jazzy, breezy delivery and cool demeanor at the Purple Pit, a nightclub where the students hang out. He also mixes it up with the bartender, who is instructed on how to mix the latest drinks for the enigmatic entertainer.

The formula wears off at inopportune times, often to Kelp's embarrassment. He must rush back to his laboratory in the hopes that no one will discover his secret. Although Kelp knows that his alternate persona is an arrogant person, he cannot prevent himself from continually taking the formula as he enjoys the newfound attention that Love receives. Buddy performs at the annual student dance, and while on the dais, the formula starts to wear off.

In the end, his real identity is revealed during the prom, as the Love persona transforms to Kelp during a speech. He gives an impassioned plea that people must learn to like themselves before others can like them in return. He admits that he has learned a valuable lesson, and Purdy admits that she likes Kelp better than Love and they get married. Prompted by his formerly henpecked father's marketing of the formula, Kelp and Purdy decide to license the product and benefit from the profits.


Production notes

The Nutty Professor was filmed from October 9-December 17, 1962 and is a loose parody of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Buddy Love is often interpreted as a lampoon of Lewis' former show business partner Dean Martin; however, Lewis has denied this in his 1982 autobiography, and also denied this in a special documentary produced for the DVD release of the film, entitled The Nutty Professor, Making The Formula. On the DVD commentary Lewis speculates he might have made Love more evil — since to his surprise more fan mail came for Love than the professor. Film Critic Danny Peary has made the claim in his 1981 book Cult Movies that the character of Love is actually the real Jerry Lewis.
  • Les Brown and his Band of Renown play themselves in the extended senior prom scenes.
  • Stella Stevens' colorful, often form-fitting, costumes (and the rest of the casts costumes as well) were designed by Edith Head.
  • Kelp has the initials "JFK" on his attache case and Howard Morris makes a remark about the ransom paid to Cuba for the Bay of Pigs Invasion survivors.
  • The Professor Johnathan I. Q. Frink, Jr. character from the animated television series The Simpsons loosely borrows much of his mannerisms and technique from Lewis's delivery of the Julius Kelp character. In one episode, the character of Frink's father appears, and was voiced by guest star Lewis.
  • Lewis was credited as a producer of the 1996 remake with Eddie Murphy playing the role of Sherman Klump.
  • Walter Scharf's score makes extensive use of the Victor Young jazz standard Stella by Starlight including an upbeat version over the film's main titles. Paramount was the copyright holder of the theme from its original appearance in The Uninvited (1944).

Alaskan Polar Bear Heater

The Alaskan Polar Bear Heater is a cocktail featured in the film. Buddy Love instructs the bartender (Buddy Lester) on how to make it: two shots of vodka, a little rum, some bitters, a smidgen of vinegar, a shot of vermouth, a shot of gin, a shot of scotch, a little brandy, a lemon peel, orange peel, cherry, some more scotch. At one point during the instructions, the bartender quips "You going to drink this here, or are you going to take it home and rub it on your chest?"

Love instructs the bartender to "mix it nice" and pour it into a tall glass. The bartender asks if he can take a sip; after doing so, he freezes like a statue. While the drink started as fictional, it now listed among real drinks.

Filming locations

The Nutty Professor was filmed mostly on the campus of Arizona State Universitymarker (Tempe, AZmarker) in 1962 with the prom portion filmed in the newly completed Gammage Auditoriummarker Hall (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright).

Awards and honors

American Film Institute recognition

Home release

The Nutty Professor was released on DVD in October 2000. In October 2004 a "Special Edition" was released including a commentary by Lewis and Steve Lawrence, a documentary and a short feature. In the commentary Lewis discusses aspects of production, including his creating a real-time, on-camera monitor, which subsequently became standard in the film industry. He mentions that he recut the film for his own home viewing. He notes places where he would like to redo the scene, for example making the professor's watch sound tinny.


An animated direct-to-video sequel, The Nutty Professor starring Jerry Lewis and Drake Bell was released November 25, 2008. Directed by Paul Taylor, the film involves Julius Kelp's teenage grandson Harold Kelp discovering his grandfather's secret formula and unleashing his alter-ego. Lewis has for decades talked about doing a sequel and until now had to settle for the remake starring Eddie Murphy. Murphy did a sequel called Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

Broadway musical

On June 29, 2009, the New York Times reported that a Broadway Musical version of the movie is planned. Jerry Lewis is set to direct, with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics and book by Rupert Holmes.


  1. The Nutty Professor, Special Edition, commentary.
  2. New York Times Art Beat,

  • Jerry Lewis: In Person with Herb Gluck. New York: Atheneum, 1982, ISBN 0-689-11290-4

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