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As professional clowns Tito and Simon are traveling, they happen upon an abandoned child, whom they take in and name Simonetta. When Simonetta is older, she becomes a circus performer herself. One day she is looking for roses, and climbs into the garden of Count Luigi Ravelli. The count becomes infatuated with her, but she leaves as soon as possible. Sometime later, Ravelli consults a doctor about his fits of uncontrollable laughter, and there he meets Tito, who has come to seek help for his fits of uncontrollable weeping. The two decide to help each other, and they establish a friendship, but problems arise when they realize that they are both in love with Simonetta. Written by
"Laugh, Clown Laugh" is another masterpiece from Lon Chaney. Although I didn't like it as much as some of his other work, it is nevertheless considered as one of his best films.
Tito (Chaney) and Simon (Bernard Siegel) are traveling clowns moving from town to town in Italy. One day Tito stumbles upon an abandoned little girl and rescues her. Despite protests from his partner, he names her Simonetta (to appease Simon) and raises her as his own. The grown up Simonetta (Loretta Young) blossoms into a beautiful young lady. Tito and Simon meanwhile, have become successful and now headline the grandest theaters in the land.
One day Simonetta, while out for a walk becomes entangled in a barb wire fence. She is rescued by Count Luigi Ravelli (Nils Aster) and taken to his home. There she learns that he is a womanizer and escapes. Tito suddenly discovers that he is in love with Simonetta when she appears before him in a stylish new dress.
Three Years later, Tito and Luigi meet while being treated by a doctor (Emmett King) for emotional problems. While in the office, Simonetta meets up again with Luigi and after some reservations begin to see each other ultimately becoming engaged. Tito is devastated and becomes distraught. In his sorrow he must continue to make people laugh as the show must go on even though he is being torn apart inside. Finally Simonetta discovers that Tito is also in love with her. Now she must choose.
Chaney returned to the eternal triangle theme time and time again in his films. He usually played the rejected lover and expressed such pathos that one could hardly help but feel pity for him. This film is no exception. The scenes where he must mask his sorrow and continue to play the clown, are classic Chaney.
Loretta Young, who would go on to a successful career spanning many decades was but a sweet sixteen when this film was made. The vast difference between her age and Chaney's made Chaney's character all the more pitiful.
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