The Joker Is Wild

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Movie Info

Frank Sinatra offers one of his better performances as the troubled but popular 1920s-era Chicago nightclub singer and comic Joe E. Lewis in this tuneful biopic. Joe's career as a singer is going fine until he derails it all by politely refusing to do a gig at a rival club. Unfortunately, that club is run by Al Capone and he doesn't like to see his offers refused and so sends out his boys to teach Lewis a lesson. They catch him and slit his throat. Lewis survives, but during the trauma his vocal cords were almost destroyed and he can no longer sing. Once healed, Lewis works on becoming a comedian and thanks to the help of Sophie Tucker succeeds. Along the way, he falls in love with a socialite and a chorus girl. He marries the latter, but secretly loves the socialite. Despite his success at work, Lewis becomes despondent and eases his pain with plenty of alcohol. As his drinking increases, the quality of his patter diminishes, but still he remains popular but only because he is an entertainingly pathetic and obnoxious drunk. When he takes his act home once too often, his disgusted wife takes a powder, as does his best friend who can no longer stand by and watch Lewis destroy himself. Fortunately, Lewis bottoms out soon afterward, quits the booze and opts for making amends to those he most loves.

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Frank Sinatra
as Joe E. Lewis
Mitzi Gaynor
as Martha Stewart
Jeanne Crain
as Letty Page
Eddie Albert
as Austin Mack
Beverly Garland
as Cassie Mack
Jackie Coogan
as Swifty Morgan
Barry Kelley
as Capt. Hugh McCarthy
Ted de Corsia
as Georgie Parker
Leonard Graves
as Tim Coogan
Hank Henry
as Burlesque Comedian
Harold Huber
as Harry Bliss
Ned Glass
as Johnson
Ned Wever
as Dr. Pierson
Sid Melton
as Runner
Wally Brown
as Heckler
Don Beddoe
as Heckler
Mary Treen
as Heckler
Paul Gary
as Man in Hotel Suite
Billy Snyder
as Man in Hotel Suite
Joe Dante
as Man in Hotel Suite
Ralph Montgomery
as Man in Hotel Suite
Frank Mills
as Florist Truck Driver
Eric Alden
as Doorman at Copacabana
Mabel Rea
as Chorus Girl
Dick Elliott
as Man Shaving
William Pullen
as Letty's Husband
Ted Offenbecker
as Elevator Starter
James Cavanaugh
as Straight Man
Harriette Tarler
as Burlesque Girl
Paula Hill
as Burlesque Girl
George Offerman Jr.
as Elevator Starter
Kit Guard
as Doorman of the Valencia
Dennis McMullen
as Photographer
Robert Asquith
as Nightclub Patron
Paul Bryar
as Heckler
Billie Bird
as Ticket Seller/Cashier
Bill Baldwin
as Radio Announcer on Loudspeaker
Russ Bender
as Man in Hotel Suite
Arthur Lewis
as Man in Hotel Suite
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Critic Reviews for The Joker Is Wild

All Critics (2)

Audience Reviews for The Joker Is Wild

  • Nov 14, 2010
    Sinatra offers a good account of Joe E. Lewis in a film made during his most fruitful as an actor before the laziness of the Rat Pack years crept into his work. The moody black and white camera work also helps set the tone for this rather downbeat bio pic. As the two women in his life Jeanne Crain and Mitzi Gaynor both perform well but the really strong woman's role goes to Beverly Garland, always an underused and undervalued actress, as Eddie Albert's loyal wife. She is strong, gritty, sensible and sympathic as needs be doing a great deal with what could have been a nothing part.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Jul 26, 2009
    one of the best biopics i have ever seen. honest and authentic, its always great to see sinatra do serious acting and he was superb in the lead. the acting was great all around and the first act was 5 star quality. a great film.
    danny d Super Reviewer
  • Dec 19, 2007
    Now don't laugh, okay? I believe Frank Sinatra is way underrated as an actor. I'm not talking about his singing here. I'm talking about pure acting talent. The more I see of him -- this is the first time I've seen this particular movie -- the more I'm impressed by his range. He really is good in both the comic and the dramatic arenas. If he never sang in any of his films, I think he would still stand out as a very fine actor.
    Lanning : Super Reviewer

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