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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the most talked-about, yet little-seen, films in history, only a select few have ever seen it. Among them was Harry Shearer, who told "Spy" Magazine that it was a "perfect object" in terms of how awful and off-tone it was. Shearer drew an analogy between seeing the film and what it would be like to take a trip to Tijuana and see a black velvet art piece showing the Auschwitz concentration camp, saying "it's not funny, and someone is trying to convey this serious event the exact wrong way." See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Brother's Light (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Tasteless but human.
11 November 2002 | by thefireherselfSee all my reviews

I'd like to take issue with some of the negative comments made about this film. It is indeed tasteless and poorly written, the dialogue at points is embarassing and maybe the rough cut of the film skews the script toward being a shameless star vehicle, (i can't comment as i've only read the script) but it is humanistic and undeserving of such vitriol. The character of Doork is arrogant and self obsessed but his motivation for entertaining the children in the camp is denial of the horrors around him rather than collusion. There isn't a large ammount of subtlty involved in the plot but how do you deal with the murder of children in a subtle and tastefull way?


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