Mrs Wellonmellon (Helen Traubel) hires Herbert H. Heebert (Jerry Lewis) to work as a handyman and general dogsbody around her boarding house for young women.
Herbert is emotionally scarred having recently been dumped by his girlfriend for another man. His fear of women exacerbated in his new job where all the girls in the rooming house treat him as a helpless servant.
Young and beautiful Fay (Pat Stanley) is the only one he can really confide in, and she helps him to overcome his fear of women – cue many chaotic and slapstick disasters.
Already a beloved screen comedian, Jerry Lewis demonstrated here a talent for directing that few could have expected.
He arranges the elements of a film frame with such skill and pitch-perfect comic timing, displayed most famously in the incredible scene in which the inhabitants of the women-only rooming house wake up and perform their morning rituals.
In one remarkable shot, we see young women in different rooms combing their hair, exercising, and playing the French horn (!) all while the camera cranes through the famous cutaway ‘dollhouse’ set – one of the largest interior sets ever built. Their movements are syncopated to the music, and perfectly integrated into the lavish setting.
Lewis also gives one of his wildest and weirdest performances and, as a director, he is willing to gleefully suspend reality at the drop of a hat, such as in the famously bizarre ‘Spider Lady’ sequence.
Diana Dors was contracted to appear in the film but when she appeared in On the Double (1961) shortly before, she was replaced by another actress. She still received her salary of $10,000 for this film.
Herbert H. Heebert/Mama Heebert
Miss Helen N. Wellenmellon
Willard C. Gainsborough
Miss Sexy Pot
Miss Southern Accent