The Day the Clown Cried (1972)

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


Jerry Lewis


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




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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


In 2009 Jerry Lewis agreed to be interviewed about the film for "Entertainment Weekly". He stated that while he was proud of the film, there were more scenes that he wished that he could add which were never filmed. He felt that the legend had grown so much around the film that releasing it would be unfair to everyone involved. The part of the article that concerned the film was published in 2013. See more »


Referenced in AniMat's Crazy Cartoon Cast: Incredible New Record (2018) See more »

User Reviews

Festival Showing? Let the public decide.
9 May 2005 | by dvdtrkrSee all my reviews

I think it's one of those films that should be shown to the public at a festival like Sundance or shown at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and then decide whether or not to release it, or made into an entirely new film.

The film was made in the early 70s at a time when the Holocaust was still in many people's minds and the subject still a very sensitive one to many people. In 2005, it would STILL be one of the most controversial films ever... I think that because the public has yet to judge the film is sad because it is of historic significance as well as an important film in Jerry's career, possibly the most important film of his career. Whether it is "good","bad" or "tacky" is irrelevant when the public can't judge for themselves.

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Filming Locations:

Sweden See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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