7.7/10
5,991
69 user 41 critic

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Not Rated | | Drama, Mystery, Romance | 4 November 1928 (USA)
Trailer
1:44 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Paul Leni

Writers:

Victor Hugo (novel), J. Grubb Alexander (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,977 ( 6,907)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Mary Philbin ... Dea
Conrad Veidt ... Gwynplaine / Lord Clancharlie
Julius Molnar Julius Molnar ... Gwynplaine as a child (as Julius Molnar Jr.)
Olga Baclanova ... Duchess Josiana
Brandon Hurst ... Barkilphedro
Cesare Gravina 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
Károly Huszár ... Innkeeper (as Charles Puffy)
Zimbo the Dog Zimbo the Dog ... Homo the Wolf (as Zimbo)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Delmo Fritz Delmo Fritz ... Sword Swallower
Deno Fritz Deno Fritz ... Sword Swallower
Edit

Storyline

Forever disfigured by a wide and mirthless grin on his face, the orphaned son of a nobleman, Gwynplaine, rescues the blind baby-girl, Dea, in cold seventeenth-century England. Taken in by the paternal carnival philosopher, Ursus, the unloved boy grows into a kind and honest man who chooses, however, to hide his grotesque deformity behind a black cloak, utterly convinced that the beautiful Dea will never truly love him because of his horrible secret. Feeling unworthy of Dea's noble feelings, Gwynplaine will soon cross paths with the aristocratic temptress, Duchess Josiana, as a cruel and long-standing conspiracy in the palace of Queen Anne presents him with the burden of choice. Will poor Gwynplaine, the Man who Laughs, renounce everything in the name of love? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Victor Hugo's immortal 12-Reel romance of the tragedy hidden behind the laugh of a clown. Poor Gwenplaine; poor laughing fool who makes millions happy and knows not happiness himself. Suppressing a tear with every laugh- a broken heart behind each smile! Choosing between the love of a sweet innocent girl and the lure of a voluptuous woman! Two years in the making-cost £500,000 to produce! (Print Ad-Northern Star, ((Lismore, NSW)) 19 January 1929) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

World premiere for this film was at the Central Theatre in New York on 27 April 1928. (New York Sun, 27 April 1928) See more »

Goofs

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

Gwynplaine: A woman has seen my face and yet may love me.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari's 100th Anniversary (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

An underappreciated classic
12 August 1999 | by MrETrainSee all my reviews

The first time I encountered The Man Who Laughs was a photo in a horror movie catalog that I had when I was a very easily-spooked 8-year-old. For some reason that grotesque grin frightened me more than the Hunchback, the Phantom of the Opera, and Nosferatu combined. I couldn't bear to look at it, so I carefully marked the page so that I wouldn't accidentally catch a glimpse of it. However, if I had actually seen the movie I wouldn't have been frightened at all. I wouldn't consider The Man Who Laughs a horror movie, but a touching melodrama about a man whose appearance is horrific.

Gwynplaine is a very sympathetic, likeable character, and Conrad Veidt does an excellent job of conveying his inner torment and sadness with subtle eye movements and gestures. Gwynplaine's innate goodness is very clear, despite his macabre appearance. We root for him to overcome all obstacles to find happiness and true love, as we root for the evil jester Barkilphedro to meet with a bitter end. We are not disappointed. I was impressed with the beautiful cinematography, which is exceptional for the time. The score and sound effects are used very well, so well that sometimes you forget that you are watching a silent picture. With the outstanding performances, particularly Veidt's, this is a classic of silent cinema that deserves to have a much wider audience.


22 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 69 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Laughs See more »

Edit

Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,347
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed