Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Ladies Man (1961)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Ladies Man (1961)

In co-writer/director Jerry Lewis' anarchic, absurdist and entertaining comedy - his second directorial effort, and known for Lewis' famous quote - "Hey, lady!":

  • the creative opening title credits sequence -- the turning pages of LOOK Magazine
  • the spastic, baby-talking, infantile and neebish character of Milltown (NJ) Junior College student Herbert H. (Herbert) Heebert (a reference to the character in Kubrick's Lolita (1962) from Nabokov's recently-published 1955 novel), who had just graduated; he was surprised when he saw his childhood sweetheart Faith (Shary Layne) at a red bus-stop bench - she was kissing a letterman jock; he fell down and grabbed his chest, and then commiserated with his parents, including his sobbing mother Marna (also Lewis); he adopted a female-hating attitude, and vowed to leave town: ("My life is shattered! The girl I waited for all my life didn't wait for me. I'm goin' away from here - from her and from girls. I hate girls. I'm gonna be a bachelor and be alone all my life")
  • the scene of Herbert sitting on a red Hollywood (CA) park bench in an ill-fitting gray suit and white saddle-shoes, when a jerky camera zoom zeroed in on a 'For Hire' sign reading: "YOUNG BACHELOR WANTED: INQUIRE WITHIN" - it led the socially-broken Herbert, unbeknownst to him, to an all-girls' boarding house for 30 shapely, aspiring and striving actresses - from his POV at the front door, he scanned the figure (from her feet to her face) of the talkative housekeeper and matronly cook Katie (Kathleen Freeman) who answered the door; he jumped into her arms: ("I'm safe") and was subsequently hired as the handyman after an interview in which he recounted his traumatic experience with his fiancee
  • the next morning, there was an extended series of gliding crane-shot views - of the surreal, visually-colorful world in the interior of the four-story split-level home with multiple rooms (open-walled in the front - it was a full-scale 'doll house' set with only a palette of comic-strip colors) - the visually-inventive camera tracked from room-to-room, inhabited by females engaged in various morning activities and pursuits (a sole student practicing the trombone, others rising from bed, preening, hair-brushing and applying make-up and hair-spray, harp-playing, record-sorting, exercising, taking a bath, dressing, pulling on stockings, and descending the various floors to the ground floor in a parade to assemble for breakfast in the dining room)
The 4-Story Split Level Boarding House
  • the scene of Herbert sleeping with his butt in the air because of his collapsed bunk bed; after being awakened by his alarm clock, he headed downstairs, and thinking that he was alone; he stumbled into the breakfast room - where he suddenly found himself in the presence of the thirty staring females; retired, former opera diva Miss Helen M. Wellenmellon (Helen Traubel), the matronly owner of the boarding house, rose and announced his presence in song: "Good morrrrrrrrrrrr-ning!!!" - and the females repeated the melodious greeting, adding his name; Miss Wellenmellon asked: "Herbert, don't just stand there. Haven't you anything to say?" - he grimaced and shouted out: "Ma!" - and fled for the stairs, where he literally 'split' into four Herberts that frantically ran up to his room
  • afterwards, Herbert was retrieved from his room by Miss Wellenmellon and persuaded to stay for the time being, and as he descended the stairs with her, amidst the flow of females, he spoke of being overwhelmed by the femininity in the house, and how he was stunned by gender anxiety and panic: ("I never saw so many girls. There's a whole bunch of 'em")
  • the sequence of Herbert being spoon-fed breakfast by Katie, while he was sitting in a high-chair
  • the gag of Herbert opening a glass-framed butterfly collection - and the five butterflies fluttered away; he whistled and they returned to their places
  • the hilarious sequences with two houseguests - the incompetent Herbert caused tough guy Willard C. Gainsborough (Buddy Lester) to do a slow-burn after sitting on his hat; the second houseguest was George Raft (a cameo parody of his own gangster character), another of the boarders' dates; to prove his identity, Raft flipped a coin, but missed, and he complained to Herbert: ("Whatsa matter, wise guy? Anybody can miss. I'm not infallible...Look, I'm George Raft. Please believe me. Aside from playin' robbers on the screen, I used to do a lot of dancing in my pictures, right?...All right, then, give me your hand. You be the girl...Please dance with me, would you?"); Herbert and Raft danced together, in a following spotlight after the lights dimmed
Herbert and Two Houseguests
Tough Guy Willard C. Gainsborough
(Buddy Lester)
George Raft Dropping Flipped Coin
Herbert and George Raft Ballroom Dancing in Spotlight
  • the sequence of Herbert's heart-to-heart talk with sad-faced and depressed Fay (Pat Stanley), who had just failed an audition: Fay: "I always feel that there isn't anyone in the world but me. Everyone else has gone to a happier place, and it just isn't my turn yet" - he sympathized with her sadness: "As long as there are those that care for you, you shouldn't feel that way...Well, I care for you, Fay, and I'm an 'anyone'"
  • the chaotic TV interview show - UP YOUR STREET (a spoof of Edward R. Murrow's TV interview show 'Person to Person'), when Miss Wellenmellon was interviewed by Westbrook Van Voorhis (as Himself) in the living room of the boarding house - in preparation, it was filled with lots of heavy equipment, lighting, wires, and KTLA-TV cameras; when Herbert was asked to help with a sound check involving the boom microphone, he yelled "GERONIMO!" and nearly deafened the sound technician, and propelled him into the sofa (under the cushions); the technician got even by putting the headphones on Herbert and yelling: "I'm OK!", causing him to pass out; during the actual interview, there were constant interruptions, disasters and problems involving Herbert who continually showed up in front of the camera
  • the scene of Herbert's entrance into the Forbidden Room, where in an all-white set, he encountered a slinky, long-legged, black-clad, bat-lady femme fatale named Sylvia (Sylvia Lewis), aka Ms. Cartilage, who was hanging upside-down - she was lowered by her black whip-rope and then danced with Herbert, to the sounds of the Harry James band (dressed in white tuxedoes) on her outside bedroom terrace; when the dance finished, the band vanished - and Herbert wondered if he was dreaming
  • the concluding scene - the defense of Herbert by a tearful Fay in the dining room, professing that he was 'smart', nice, and helpful, in front of the other self-centered females, who only considered him as a useful errand go-to boy that could be fooled into remaining as their servant: "Are you all finished? Does anyone need Herbert for anything else? I wonder if any of you have ever really needed Herbert, just to sit down and talk to. Well, I did. He's really very smart, and very nice, too. He'd make a wonderful guy for some girl, if she really needed him. I think we should all be very ashamed of having deceived him. I'll admit it's nice to be needed, really needed, but to tell somebody you need them just so they'll stay around and run errands for you, that's not so nice"; she claimed that they should let Herbert go and do something for himself if he wanted to: ("Maybe he's tired of being a handyman for a bunch of girls. Let him go if he wants to"); with a suitcase in his hand, Herbert raced into the dining room and announced his imminent departure for good: ("I'm goin', when the door slams, my life is out of yours...there's no stopping me now") - but was shocked that no one responded or begged him to stay; Fay finally spoke up for everyone: "Herbert, we really want you to stay. We'd be the happiest girls in the world if you'd never leave. We didn't want to tell you we needed you just to keep you here. Actually, we need you very much, but not just doing errands for us. We need you because you're a nice person, and nice persons are needed everywhere! We just figured that you were tired of working with a bunch of girls, and maybe you'd like to go someplace else, where you can think of yourself more"; Herbert responded: "Well, that's all very nice what you said, and, uh, and, to tell you the truth and be very honest with ya, I don't really know why I was leaving. I mean, I like it here very much, and I like everybody a lot. And I like to be needed. But honestly needed. And well, after what you just said, I wouldn't leave here for anything or anyone"; she hugged him: "Oh!, Herbert!"; he corrected her: "It's Herby, H-E-R-B-Y, Herby. Yeah!"
  • in the curtain closing seconds, there was a loud roar, and female screams as the dining room was cleared, leaving Herbert standing there alone - he tried to be calm and reassuring: "It's just Baby....Baby, where are you, sweetheart? Baby, sweetheart? Little Baby" [Note: Earlier in the film, Baby was seen to be a small beagle with a huge collar and chain]; suddenly, a full-sized male lion strolled by him; Herbert walked toward the camera and in close-up with his mouth wide-open, yelled out: "Ma! Ma! Did you see that pussycat?"
Little Baby
"Ma! Ma!"

Opening Title Credits Sequence

Herbert's Shock at Bus-Stop

Herbert's Mother

Herbert on Park Bench Looking for Work

At Boarding House in Arms of Housekeeper ("I'm safe")

Herbert Awakening

Thirty Females in House

Miss Helen M. Wellenmellon
(Helen Traubel)

An Overwhelmed Herbert with Miss Wellenmellon

Herbert Being Spoon-Fed in High Chair

With Butterfly Case

Herbert's Sympathizing With Fay

TV Show Prep: "GERONIMO"

Interview Scene

Bat Lady Lowered Upside Down

Dream Sequence: Herbert With Bat Lady Sylvia (aka Ms. Cartilage)

Fay's Defense of Herbert in Dining Room

Herbert - Packed and Ready to Leave


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