Monday, June 20, 2016
Thirty Minutes of Jerry Lewis's The Day The Clown Cried Released Online
From veriety, Jerry Lewis’s controversial film, The Day the Clown Cried, has always remained hidden from the public. Although Lewis wrote, directed, and starred in the 1972 film, he chose to bury it. According to the May 1992 issue of Spy, the film's synopsis goes as follows: "An unhappy German circus clown is sent to a concentration camp and forced to become a sort of genocidal Pied Piper, entertaining Jewish children as he leads them to the gas chambers." It's meant to be a drama—one of Lewis's first attempts at serious filmmaking. "It was all bad," Lewis said of the film during a press conference at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. "You will never see it, no one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work." The film is a “perfect object” of awfulness, according to Harry Shearer, who remains among the handful of people who have ever seen the movie.
The film has only gained notoriety because of the lengths Lewis has gone to keep it under wraps. Many people actively search for clips, despite the fact that the Library of Congress acquired Lewis's complete film archive—including the one remaining print of The Day the Clown Cried—on the condition the film not be released to the public until June 2024. This only made the search more rabid.
The wait to see the film just got a little shorter, though. Screen Crush reports that 30 minutes of The Day the Clown Cried is now available online. The footage has been cobbled together from different sources, including a German documentary about the making of the film, with missing material filled in with title cards. It’s not the complete version, but it’s 30 minutes more than viewers have ever had.