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Visit to a Small Planet

Visit to a Small Planet
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Hal B Wallis
Written by Edmund Beloin
Henry Garson
Gore Vidal (play)
Starring Jerry Lewis
Joan Blackman
Earl Holliman
Fred Clark
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Loyal Griggs
Edited by Frank Bracht
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
February 4, 1960
Running time
85 minutes
Language English
Box office $3,200,000 (US/ Canada)[1]
907,280 admissions (France)[2]

Visit to a Small Planet is a 1960 Paramount Pictures film starring Jerry Lewis and based on a play by Gore Vidal. The picture was released on February 4, 1960. Visit to a Small Planet debuted as a television production then was reworked as a Broadway play starring Cyril Ritchard and Eddie Mayehoff.


Kreton (Jerry Lewis) is an alien from outer space who is fascinated by human beings. Against the wishes of his teacher, he repeatedly visits Earth. During his latest visit, his teacher reluctantly agrees to allow him to stay and study the humans. He becomes friends with a suburban family and stays with them, after they agree to keep his alien status a secret. Along the way, he falls in love with their daughter (Joan Blackman). However, there is a force field around him that prevents any physical contact as his race has abolished any form of affection.

After repeatedly breaking the one rule from his teacher, which is not to get involved in the humans' lives, he is stripped of all his powers so that he can realize that being human isn't always happy: it comes with other less desired emotions such as pain, sadness, and jealousy. Once his cover is blown on Earth and he is reported to the police, he decides that those emotions are not worth the trouble and he returns to his own planet.



Visit to a Small Planet was filmed from April 28 through July 3, 1959.

Awards and nominations

Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler, Samuel M. Comer, and Arthur Krams were nominated for the 1960 Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Black and White), but lost to Alexander Trauner and Edward G. Boyle for The Apartment. [3]


The film was re-released on a double bill in 1966 with another Jerry Lewis film, The Bellboy.

Original Television Play and Broadway Production

Gore Vidal wrote this as a television play in which form it debuted on May 8, 1955 on Goodyear Television Playhouse. Later he reworked it for the Broadway stage, where it debuted on February 7, 1957 and ran for 388 performances. Star Cyril Ritchard, who also directed, received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Kreton. Eddie Mayehoff also received a nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor.

Before playing on Broadway the play was performed at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut January 16–19, 1957. Starring Cyril Ritchard and Eddie Mayehoff.

Vidal intended the play as a satire on the post-World War II fear of communism in the United States, McCarthyism, Cold War military paranoia and the rising importance of television in American life. A major critical success, it was subtitled A Comedy Akin to Vaudeville.

The play tells the story of Kreton, an alien from an unnamed planet who lands on Earth intending to view the American Civil War. He miscalculates and lands instead 100 years later. Having missed the opportunity to see conflict first hand, but delighted with all the new playthings the 20th century has invented for war-making, he decides to create a war for himself.


  1. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961, p 47 (figures are rentals, not total gross)
  2. ^ Jerry Lewis films French box office information at Box Office Story
  3. ^ "NY Times: Visit to a Small Planet". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 

External links