The Day the Clown Cried (1972)

| Drama
A circus clown is imprisoned by the Nazis and goes with Jewish children to their deaths.

Director:

Jerry Lewis

Writers:

Jerry Lewis (screenplay), Joan O'Brien (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Jerry Lewis ... Helmut Doork
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Ahlm Peter Ahlm ... 1st New Prisoner
Lars Amble ... Guard
Harriet Andersson ... Ada Doork
Jonas Bergström ... Franz
Carl Billquist ... Gestapo Officer #2
Claude Bolling ... Circus Band Conductor
Tomas Bolme ... Adolf
Curt Broberg Curt Broberg ... Galt
Bo Brundin ... Ludwig
Johnny Cacao Johnny Cacao
Anton Diffring ... Captain Curt Runkel
Nils Eklund ... Bartender
Victor Fratellini Victor Fratellini
Serge Gainsbourg
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Storyline

Helmut Doork, a once great and famous clown, is fired from the circus. Getting drunk at a local bar, he pokes fun at Hitler in front of some Gestapo agents, who arrest and send him to a prison camp. Helmut angers his fellow prisoners by refusing to perform for them, wanting to preserve his legend. As times passes, Jews are brought into the camp, with fraternizing between them and the other prisoners strictly prohibited. Eventually, Helmut is forced by the others to perform or be beaten. His act bombs and he leaves the barracks depressed, trying the routine out again alone in the prison yard. He hears laughter and sees a group of Jewish children watching him through a fence. Happy to be appreciated again, he makes a makeshift clown suit and begins to regularly perform. His audience grows, but a new prison Commandant orders Helmut to stop. When he refuses and continues to perform, he's beaten and thrown in solitary confinement. But the Nazis soon come up with a use for Helmut, keeping ... Written by Jonathan D. H. Parshall <parshall@citcom.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Filming Locations:

Sweden See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Berneis worked on an earlier draft of the script. See more »

Connections

Referenced in DVD-R Hell: The Day the Clown Cried (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Excerpts from the film
15 February 2016 | by kay2043838See all my reviews

At least 25 minutes of the film was shown on German television on the documentary Der Clown. Jerry Lewis even was interviewed for it. The movie could've been Jerry's best work. He gives his best dramatic performance in the scenes that are shown, and the ending is very sad and touching. Even though about an hour of it was missing from the documentary the main scenes are shown. Some of the actors from the film got together and even acted out some of the missing scenes. Basically Europa Studios who confiscated parts of the film literally threw it into the garbage after many years of non-payment, and one of the workers rescued it from the garbage. This film had the biggest travesty in film history happen to it. First the producer Nathan Waschberger that screwed up the money side of it, then the author Joan O'Brien not allowing Jerry Lewis to continue the option on the script. Really dumb if you ask me since he offered her a great deal of money for it. After seeing parts of the movie, it's confusing why she thought it was terrible. My thought is, that she was angry that he had turned the character into a more sympathetic one and had changed his name. Personally reading his version of the script in comparison to her original work, his is better. Then trash like Harry Shearer gave a movie he couldn't have possibly seen, a bad name. Harry Shearer was sadly given interview time in the German documentary, which made me want to vomit. He's still confused over this not being funny and a comedy.... Comedians make dramatic movies sometimes??? Why he cannot connect these dots in his brain is beyond me. But people took this man's word and he did great damage to this movie's reputation. Very tragic. Jerry was still enthusiastic about this movie into the 90's, but his enthusiasm turned to disgust and hate for the project after so much bad luck with getting it released. Now these days he does believe that his work was bad, even though other cast members and people working on the project told him it was great work. Jerry Lewis is a perfectionist, and this is clear from this statement about the movie in the documentary. "It was almost great... and almost isn't good enough for me." So any statement from him about it being bad, can really be taken as him being a perfectionist and never satisfied with his work. Many actors and directors are never satisfied with their work. I honestly think that if the film footage that was shown in the documentary, did continue that level of quality work through the the film, and had it been released, Jerry could've been nominated for an Academy Award. Sadly we will never know....


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