7.7/10
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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 »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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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
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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lon Chaney WAS in fact under contract with Universal Studios and was offered the leading role in "The Man Who Laughs." The studio was eager to make another picture with Chaney after the success of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). Initially, they decided on The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but rejected the script. In its place, Chaney was offered the lead in "The Man Who Laughs" and his contract was amended to reflect this. However, production did not begin because Universal had not acquired the rights to Victor Hugo's novel from the French studio that held them. Universal subsequently released Chaney from his commitment to star in "The Man Who Laughs," and amended his contract to allow him to choose his next project, which became "The Phantom of the Opera." See more »

Goofs

When Barkilphedro first reads the blackmail note from Doctor Hardquanonne, we are shown a shot of the full text of the note. Toward the bottom, it says, "You are rich...". Seconds later, we see close-ups of the note. Words have been rearranged on the page to make the close-ups more readable and the lower portion now says, "You will be penniless," - a phrase that didn't appear anywhere in the original text. See more »

Quotes

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!
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Connections

Featured in The Black Dahlia (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

When Love Comes Stealing
(uncredited)
Written by Walter Hirsch, Lew Pollack and Erno Rapee
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User Reviews

 
Lovely... a must see!!!
30 March 2007 | by Chaves7777See all my reviews

I always think that Paul Leni's "The Man Who Laughs" was another silent horror piece with a lot of good ideas and thrilling scenes. Well... i was not wrong, except in the "horror" thing, and I lack to think of the beauty that could give me. Actually, "The Man Who Laughs" is one of the best silent films (With "Broken Blossoms" and "Metropolis") that i have ever seen ever. As too one of the most beautiful films that i have ever seen too.

"The Man Who Laughs", based on Victor Hugo's novel, told us the story of Gwynplaine (Great performance of Conrad Veidt, who too appeared as Cesare in famous "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", participate in the first gay themed film in history "Diffrent from the Others" and "Casabalanca") a man that, when he was little, was operated by an evil man and now, his face always have a long smile. When he was little, he finds a death mother with a newly born one, a beautiful girl, but she is blind. Then he finds help, home and food with Ursus. Years later, he grown up, as the lovely girl, now a beautiful woman named Dea. With Ursus (Now, he is old) go with a fair. For their side there is the evil Barkilpehdro, who was the responsible of our dear main character's sad circumstances. This evil character do it for one thing, power... Gwynplaine doesn't know that he could be a powerful man. Now, back with Gwynplaine, we find a big saddest by him, he don't want to be a clown. And Dea is the only person who see the real Gwynplane. Then we find the story of a beautiful but evil and rebel duchess (Perfomed perfectly by Olga Baclanova, who appeared too in "Freaks"),she has as pupil: the evil Barkilphedro. So, what do you think that happen if all this characters find them in a fair? Just watch it out, and be prepared, because is a thrilling experience.

In my personal opinion, "The Man Who Laughs" is an important piece of the history of cinema, maybe , of their time too. First of all, the love story is so tender, so beautiful... that i don't think yet that exist such movie!!! Then, the stages, all the scenario is perfect, makes us to feel what it wants. Is here too another personal opinion, i think that "The Man Who Laughs" it was early to their time, Paul Leni (Director of "The Cat and the Cannary" and "Waxworks"). Its just that the movie present topics that in that time was very difficult to show, or was too (talkin about film technique) novel, or in other word: new. For example, there is a scene when a man watch through the bolt of a door to the duchess taking a bath, yes it doesn't show her nude, but certainly, what they show it was much for this time, i think. In film technique i can give a lot of examples, for example, mix of sounds in a lot of scenes, camera moves... etc... i can put a lot of examples. In few words, "The Man Who Laughs" is a real masterpiece, a real must see. This is a beautiful film, and i loved it. Try to see it if you have not see it yet. If you love excellent films, if you love silent films, if you love beautiful films, if you love thrilling films, if you love touching films... you must see "The Man Who Laughs"

*Sorry for the mistakes, well... if there any.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Laughs See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,347
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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