Jerry Lewis now claims that his film directorial debut came about when his home studio, Paramount, needed a summer-release Lewis vehicle in a hurry. Jerry and his entourage headed to the Fountainbleu hotel in Miami Beach, and 29 days later returned with The Bellboy.
As narrator Walter Winchell (and an actor pretending to be a Paramount executive in a pre-credits bit) explain, the film has no plot and no point; it merely exists for the audience's enjoyment. Lewis plays nebbishy bellhop Stanley, a nonspeaking bumbler who alternates between screwing up and taking his job too seriously.
The film's Tati-like gags involve a Volkswagen engine, an overweight guest, a woman with a come-hither voice, a very effective flash bulb, an episode at the Greyhound track, a golf tournament, and a passenger jet.
Weaving in and out of the proceedings is Lewis' cowriter (and former drummer) Bill Richmond, made up as the spitting image of Stan Laurel (the real Laurel was approached to play himself, but he gently turned Jerry down, insisting that his aged appearance would disappoint his fans).
Miami habitues B.S. Pully, Joe E. Ross, Cary Middlecoff, The Novelites make cameo appearances, as does Milton Berle. Made for peanuts, The Bellboy amassed a fortune, assuring that Jerry Lewis would be permitted to direct many of his own films in the future.