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
Chaney's favourite of all his pictures is a landmark weeper
...the Pagliacci story has become a keystone of American popular culture, all the way from Enrico Caruso's Metropolitan Opera performances in the Leoncavallo classic (his various recordings of "Vesti la Giubba" combined to sell over a million copies according to the Guinness Book of World Records) through to the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles hit record "Tears of a Clown." This Lon Chaney movie was once a primary link in that chain, but because it was considered "lost" for many years (before a British release print with two reels missing was found towards the end of the century) it was forgotten. Now that it's available on DVD with a beautiful H. Scott Salinas musical score worthy of Morricone, as well as a scholarly audio commentary by Michael F. Blake, it deserves to be restored to its former status as one of the greatest American films of the silent era...
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