The Disorderly Orderly (Frank Tashlin / U.S., 1964):

A patient with an oversized bandaged foot is wheeled straight into a wall -- the moss-covered gag (out of Woody Woodpecker) is made flesh, and you know you're in good hands. The location is a sanitarium, the comic as mixed-up humaniatarian with "sympathy pains" is the theme, set up by Frank Tashlin and clowned by Jerry Lewis in a final collaboration. The health system is a business and the venal hospital executive (Everett Sloane) quotes survey results showing show-biz types as "crazier than those in government," the fluent flow of comedy demonstrates it expressively by feeding a brassy diva (Barbara Nichols) to a faulty bed. Lewis, meanwhile, absorbs the maladies of hypochondriac ninny Alice Pearce, whose cheery descriptions of her clogged-up intestines send the orderly into agonized contortions ("Oh bile, oh bile!"). The snowy screen of a defective TV yields to a blizzard, a stethoscope finds Big Ben chiming inside forlorn Jerry's chest; the massage-room routine from Artists and Models is revisited with a patient's body cast, which rolls down a hill and into a typical "punchline perdu." Jerry's split between a brunette nurse (Karen Sharpe) and a suicidal blonde (Susan Oliver) manages to give a distant echo of Vertigo somehow or other -- as the most interesting character, Oliver's ex-cheerleader has her tawny beauty disfigured by the greenish glow of an aquarium and spits out such venom at her assigned role ("The most popular girl in school... At least it looks pretty when it breaks up") that one regrets Tashlin not living to direct Cameron Diaz. The sparkling psychoanalysis counts amid its beauties Kathleen Freeman's dependable deadpan in starched whites, and the rather lovely chaos of a thousand stacks of supermarket cans tumbling down. With Glenda Farrell, Del Moore, and Jack E. Leonard.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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