IMDb > The Man Who Laughs (1928)
The Man Who Laughs
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The Man Who Laughs (1928) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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Director:
Writers:
Victor Hugo (novel)
J. Grubb Alexander (adaptation)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Man Who Laughs on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
4 November 1928 (USA) See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Veidt and Leni and Victor Hugo See more (44 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)

Mary Philbin ... Dea

Conrad Veidt ... Gwynplaine / Lord Clancharlie
Julius Molnar ... Gwynplaine as a child (as Julius Molnar Jr.)

Olga Baclanova ... Duchess Josiana
Brandon Hurst ... Barkilphedro
Cesare Gravina ... Ursus
Stuart Holmes ... Lord Dirry-Moir
Sam De Grasse ... King James II (as Sam DeGrasse)
George Siegmann ... Dr. Hardquanonne
Josephine Crowell ... Queen Anne
Charles Puffy ... Innkeeper
Zimbo the Dog ... Homo the Wolf (as Zimbo)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Deno Fritz ... Sword Swallower
Henry A. Barrows ... (uncredited)
Richard Bartlett ... (uncredited)
Les Bates ... (uncredited)
Charles Brinley ... (uncredited)
Allan Cavan ... (uncredited)
D'Arcy Corrigan ... (uncredited)
Carmen Costello ... Dea's Mother (uncredited)
Carrie Daumery ... Lady-in-Waiting (uncredited)
Howard Davies ... (uncredited)
Nick De Ruiz ... Wapentake (uncredited)
Louise Emmons ... Gypsey Hag (uncredited)
J.C. Fowler ... (uncredited)
John George ... Dwarf (uncredited)
Jack A. Goodrich ... Clown (uncredited)
Charles Hancock ... (uncredited)
Lila LaPon ... Featured (uncredited)
Torben Meyer ... The Spy (uncredited)
Joe Murphy ... Hardquanones messenger (uncredited)
Edgar Norton ... Lord High Chancellor (uncredited)
Broderick O'Farrell ... (uncredited)
Lon Poff ... (uncredited)
Frank Puglia ... Clown (uncredited)
Henry Roquemore ... (uncredited)
Templar Saxe ... (uncredited)
Allan Sears ... (uncredited)
Scott Seaton ... (uncredited)
Louis Stern ... (uncredited)
Al Stewart ... (uncredited)
Anton Vaverka ... (uncredited)
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Directed by
Paul Leni 
 
Writing credits
Victor Hugo (novel "L'Homme Qui Rit")

J. Grubb Alexander (adaptation)

J. Grubb Alexander (continuity)

Walter Anthony (titles)

May McLean  uncredited
Marion Ward  uncredited
Charles E. Whittaker  uncredited

Produced by
Carl Laemmle .... producer
 
Original Music by
William Axt (uncredited)
Sam Perry (uncredited)
Erno Rapee (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Gilbert Warrenton (photography)
 
Film Editing by
Edward L. Cahn  (as Edward Cahn)
 
Art Direction by
Charles D. Hall 
Thomas F. O'Neill  (as Thomas O'Neil)
Joseph C. Wright  (as Joseph Wright)
 
Costume Design by
David Cox  (as Dave Cox)
Vera West 
 
Makeup Department
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Paul Kohner .... production supervisor
 
Editorial Department
Maurice Pivar .... supervising film editor
 
Music Department
Joseph Cherniavsky .... musical director (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Walter Anthony .... titles
Charles D. Hall .... technical director
Carl Laemmle .... presenter
Lew Landers .... production staff member (as Louis Friedlander)
Jay Marchant .... production staff member
R.H. Newlands .... technical researcher (as Prof. R.H. Newlands)
Thomas F. O'Neill .... technical director (as Thomas O'Neil)
Bela Sekely .... story supervisor (as Dr. Bela Sekely)
John M. Voshell .... production staff member
Joseph C. Wright .... technical director (as Joseph Wright)
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
110 min
Country:
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System) (musical score and sound effects) | Silent
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Gwynplaine's fixed grin and disturbing clown-like appearance was a key inspiration for comic book talents writer Bill Finger and artists Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson in creating Batman's greatest enemy, The Joker.See more »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: The clowns wear modern "clown" make-up in Queen Anne's reign (1702-1714). This appearance was not developed until the mid 1800s. Jo Grimaldi was the first clown to wear this style.See more »
Quotes:
Dea:God closed my eyes so I could see only the real Gwynplaine.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
When Love Comes StealingSee more »

FAQ

How did this American movie from 1928 get away with showing female nudity?
Is Gwynplaine based on the Joker?
See more »
25 out of 26 people found the following review useful.
Veidt and Leni and Victor Hugo, 24 July 2000

A lord refuses to kiss the hand of King James II, so is doubly punished: he perishes in the "Iron Lady" [onscreen in a memorably handled sequence] while his son is sent to a surgeon who [offscreen] carves a grin on his face "so he can forever laugh at his father". Sheltered by a kindly playwright ["like Shakespeare, only much better!"], the boy grows up to join his troupe of itinerant players as the star attraction: "The Man Who Laughs". His fortunes lead him to a blind girl, an ambitious duchess, and Queen Anne, who reinstates him to the nobility, but with further complications.

Conrad Veidt, in a career stretching from CALIGARI to CASABLANCA, always found the emotional authenticity in bizarre roles. Here, in the familiar 19th century figure of the suffering clown, his performance is transfixing: whether tremulous as the girl's hand explores his face, or mortified by the laughter of the House of Lords, Veidt's face makes the role more than a simple martyr: he is man struggling with unjust destiny ["A king made me a clown, a queen made me a lord, but first God made me a man!"].

Big-hearted and unashamedly dramatic, this is clearly the work of Victor Hugo, rags to riches in scope, offering consolation in love. The spirit of the French Revolution is very much in the air in this world of cruel privilege and class antagonism, full of secret doors, dungeons, and volatile mobs. While not as richly populated as Les Miserables and Hunchback, this adaptation still has spectacular set-pieces and elaborate settings.

Considerably less revolutionary is the conventional portrayal of women: virgin and vamp are the only alternatives. The former is the blind girl played by Mary Philbin [who had earlier unmasked Lon Chaney's Phantom]. With blond ringlets arranged to make her face heart-shaped, she edges close to simpering yet rises to genuinely moving moments. The vamp is Olga Baclanova [who became the blonde tormentor in Tod Browning's FREAKS], here writhing around in a black negligee and looking startlingly like Madonna.

Today, the films of Paul Leni are hard to track down, but worth the effort. Starting as an art director, Leni developed his visual command in Berlin; this Germanic style stands out in some beautifully designed compositions, such as a dynamic night sequence: a ship, full of gypsies being deported, heaves through a furious snowstorm. Yet Leni always works at the heart of the human values in the story, sustaining intense moments for all his actors. While some scenes are staged in darkness to rival a film noir, Leni also floods Veidt and Philbin with light, often focusing on one nuance per shot, an old-fashioned but effective strategy.

Filmed on the cusp of the sound revolution, this semi-silent has added sound effects and rather vague non-stop music but no spoken dialogue.

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Who played Lord Clancharlie? nerettyksduredro
Saddest Movie Ever? rocker623
Who played the two 'Iron Lady' executioners? yelknirb67
Mary Philbin . . . curlew-2
What if Paul Leni had lived? bheck1
The Duchess Looked like a Young Madonna HOHNancy
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