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The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Not Rated | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 4 November 1928 (USA)
When a proud noble refuses to kiss the hand of the despotic King James in 1690, he is cruelly executed and his son surgically disfigured.



(novel), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Credited cast:
Julius Molnar ...
Gwynplaine as a child (as Julius Molnar Jr.)
Brandon Hurst ...
Cesare Gravina ...
Stuart Holmes ...
Sam De Grasse ...
King James II (as Sam DeGrasse)
Károly Huszár ...
Innkeeper (as Charles Puffy)
Zimbo the Dog ...
Homo the Wolf (as Zimbo)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Delmo Fritz ...
Sword Swallower
Deno Fritz ...
Sword Swallower


Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, has a permanent smile carved on his face by the King, in revenge for Gwynplaine's father's treachery. Gwynplaine is adopted by a travelling showman and becomes a popular idol. He falls in love with the blind Dea. The king dies, and his evil jester tries to destroy or corrupt Gwynplaine. Written by Helen Elsom <helenel@sco.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 November 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Homem Que Ri  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System) (musical score and sound effects)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


The process of carving a victim's face to look like it is smiling broadly, has come to be known as a Glasgow Smile or a Chelsea Smile after organized crime rings in those two British cities used such mutilations as a terror tactic. See more »


The opening scene happens in James II's reign (1685-1688), but Lord Clancharlie is sentenced to death in an Iron Maiden, an instrument of torture not invented until 1793. See more »


Ursus: [looking at the baby] Blind!
[sees Gwynplaine grinning]
Ursus: Stop laughing! Stop laughing I say!
Gwynplaine as a child: I'm not laughing!
Ursus: [looks at Gwynplaine's grin] Comprachicos!
See more »


Referenced in Batman Villains: The Joker (2005) See more »


When Love Comes Stealing
Written by Walter Hirsch, Lew Pollack and Erno Rapee
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

New York
19 November 1998 | by (Huntington, NY) – See all my reviews

This silent horror gem doesn't get many viewings. Conrad Viedt, in his best film role plays an unfortunate memeber of royality whose mouth is carved in a horrific grin. He winds up in a circus sideshow, where gawkers marvel at his eternal grin. However, Viedt does such a wonderful performance here, especially with the fact he has the limitation of expressing inner anquish with eye movements. After the sideshow episode, he falls in love with a blind girl, (Mary Philbin, recently menaced by "The Phantom Of The Opera") who can't see his grostesque mouth. Paul Leni, who died of blood poisioning in 1931, keeps the pace of the film active. The late Bob Kane, creator of "Batman" claims Viedt's character was the inspiration for The Joker.

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