The Joker is Wild purports to be the case history of a Prohibition era entertainer who lived through a savage attack by mobsters; loved and lost a pretty, rich girl; married a dancer whom he neglected; often was a self-pitying heel; hit the bottle and gambled all the time; and meanwhile gagged his way to being a heavy favorite in the club-date sweepstakes.

The Joker is Wild purports to be the case history of a Prohibition era entertainer who lived through a savage attack by mobsters; loved and lost a pretty, rich girl; married a dancer whom he neglected; often was a self-pitying heel; hit the bottle and gambled all the time; and meanwhile gagged his way to being a heavy favorite in the club-date sweepstakes.

Frank Sinatra was first to carry the ball with this one, having bought Art Cohn’s story of Joe E. Lewis in galley proof form and thereafter taking a key part in the packaging. Sinatra obviously couldn’t be made to look like Lewis; and Lewis’ style of delivery is unique. But these are minor reservations in light of the major job Sinatra does – alternately sympathetic and pathetic, funny and sad.

Eddie Albert plays Austin Mack, Lewis’ longtime piano accompanist and intimate friend, with considerable feel. Jeanne Crain is touching and fits in fine as the wealthy gal who falls for Lewis (and he for her). The leggy, shapely, cutie-pie-faced Mitzi Gaynor is colorful as a chorus dancer who marries Lewis after Crain takes the powder.

Under Charles Vidor’s direction, Joker plays out in well organized and smooth fashion. But it goes overboard on length.

1957: Best Song (‘All the Way’)

The Joker Is Wild

Production

Paramount. Director Charles Vidor; Producer Samuel J. Briskin; Screenplay Oscar Saul; Camera Daniel L. Fapp; Editor Everett Douglas; Music Walter Scharf

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1957. Running time: 126 MIN.

With

Frank Sinatra Mitzi Gaynor Jeanne Crain Eddie Albert Beverly Garland Jackie Coogan
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